Parish Nurse Program
The concept and practice of parish nursing was introduced in 1985 by Granger E. Westberg (1911-1999). Westberg was a Lutheran minister who held a joint professorship in medicine and religion at the University of Chicago and a professorship in preventive medicine at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine. Westberg is credited with recognizing the close connection between religion, medicine, and total person health and with founding the first parish nurse programs established in 6 Lutheran churches in the Chicago area in 1984. Since this time, parish nursing has continued to grow and evolve and is now international in its scope.
Meet Your Parish Nurses
A parish nurse is a registered nurse who has had additional training and serves the member of a congregation. In serving the congregation, the parish nurse may adopt one or more of the following roles:
- Health Counselor
- Educator of Holistic Health
- Advocate/Resource Person
- Liaison to Community Services
- Teacher and/or Coordinator of Volunteers in Health-Related Activities
- Healer – Body, Mind, Spirit
While this scope is quite broad, parish nursing does have its limits. A parish nurse does not provide hands-on care, nor does a parish nurse attempt to act as a substitute for the services of a pastor or associate pastor. Yet, the parish nurse role holds tremendous potential to better the holistic health of the congregation served.