Department: Nursing in the Church
Not only has the specialty practice of faith community nursing continued to develop as a means for nurses to provide wholistic healthcare, but the Nursing in the Church column has been a regular feature of JCN for 10 years! That's a decade of sharing the story of a developing nursing practice focusing on intentional care of the spirit in faith communities and other faith-based organizations.
Being a packrat, I retrieved my scribbled notes from the conversations that created this column, along with the original topic ideas. This file also contained copies of email reader comments and an oversized notebook with copies of each column. As I reviewed this collection and the memories that accompanied each, I realize how blessed I am to be part of this specialty nursing practice. The stories and ideas are not mine; they originate from God and are inspired by FCNs worldwide.
After many conversations about creating the column, Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner sent me an email, in July 2008, confirming the launch of the column in 2009. She wrote, “We are interested in current, helpful, relevant information for parish nurses...What is real ministry in parish nursing?” I have attempted to answer this question in every column by including theory, Scripture, and theology, while focusing on the realities and challenges of actual practice.
The first column defined the specialty practice and discussed the titles of parish nurse and faith community nurse. A discussion forum in every column encourages comments and questions. Some of the best column topics have been the results of reader feedback.
When asked how the column has changed over the years, I answer that it has matured as the specialty practice has continued to develop. In reviewing the column topics, I noticed a shift from defining and describing the practice to a greater focus on encouragement and support of FCNs to meet the challenges and issues of providing wholistic care to Christians, as well as people of other faiths, or of no faith. Spiritual self-care and developing resiliency are addressed more recently than in years past.
Where do we go from here? In an effort to meet your needs, the Nursing in the Church column will continue to adapt as the specialty practice changes. To do so, it is important that your voice is heard! Send your thoughts and comments about how this column has impacted you personally or professionally. What future topics would support your practice and you personally? Would you be interested in becoming a guest writer for this column? Do you have an idea for an article? Let us hear from you so that your story becomes part of the next 10 years of faith community nursing history!
- Faith community nurses are providing care across many major religions and most Christian denominations.
- The United Methodist Church (UMC) offers a denomination-specific certification track for both laity and ordained RNs serving as FCNs in a UMC church.
- The Westberg Institute educational partners report an average of 500 new FCNs graduating from the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course per year.
- The Spiritual Care Association offers FCN training as spiritual care generalists, certified chaplains, and board-certified chaplains.
- FCNs are practicing in all U. S. states and in 28 additional countries, according to the Westberg Institute.
- The Health Ministries Association works in conjunction with the American Nurses Association to provide the Scope & Standards of Practice for FCNs.
Ziebarth, D. J. (2015). Why a faith community nurse program? A five-finger response. Journal of Christian Nursing, 32(2), 88-93. doi:10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000159
Health Ministries Association conference, October 11-14, 2019. See https://hmassoc.org/news-events/upcoming-conference/
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