Faith community nurses work within religious organizations and provide a bridge between medicine and spirituality. Therefore, nurses who have a strong connection to their spirituality often find satisfaction using their faith as a tool in healthcare.
Find out throughout this guide the educational requirements, licensure prerequisites, and career outlook for faith community nurses.
What Is a Faith Community Nurse?
Also known as parish nursing, faith community nursing is a specialty recognized by the American Nurses Association and open to registered nurses (RNs). Their role is to monitor how religious beliefs impact physical and mental healthcare. The position combines traditional nursing practice with the care of the spirit. In doing so, they assist members of religious communities in maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
Faith community nurses are responsible for providing education, organizing support groups, helping parishioners navigate the healthcare system, and assisting in integrating spiritual care into the promotion of health within religious congregations.
Steps to Becoming a Faith Community Nurse
Faith community nurses need a minimum of an ADN, which takes two years to complete. However, many employers prefer RNs who have graduated from a four-year BSN degree program.
Students with an ADN may choose to enroll in an RN-to-BSN degree program, which allows them to earn their BSN in two years rather than four. Those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can enroll in an accelerated BSN degree program, allowing them to earn their bachelor’s in nursing in as little as a year.
After earning their ADN or BSN, graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN to apply for an RN license.
The NCLEX uses real-world medical scenarios to assess prospective nurses’ ability to apply the knowledge gained from their undergraduate studies. Test-takers should expect content related to safety and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.
Licensed RNs interested in becoming a faith community nurse can complete courses offered at universities or through independent organizations. Some institutions offer courses that can be completed within a BSN or master’s program.
Faith community nursing courses prepare RNs to work within faith-based communities or religious organizations. They help nurses understand how to combine spiritualism, professionalism, holistic health, and community in patient care.
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Faith Community Nurse Education
Becoming a faith community nurse requires nurses to have earned at least an ADN; however, most employers prefer to hire RNs with a BSN from accredited nursing programs. Therefore, the most direct academic path is earning a BSN and becoming a licensed RN.
Options also exist for those with an ADN or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, including nursing bridge and accelerated programs.
Those looking to start their work in the nursing field within a short amount of time should pursue an ADN. Not only can students earn their degree in a shorter amount of time, but most ADN programs are more affordable than earning a BSN.
Even though an ADN is the minimum degree needed to become a licensed RN, some employers prefer their employees hold a BSN. Nurses with an ADN who want to pursue their BSN can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program, where they can earn their bachelor’s degree in as little as two years.
High school diploma or GED certificate; minimum 2.0 GPA
Microbiology; anatomy; pharmacology; nursing principles; psychology; clinical experiences; foundations of faith community nursing
Identify basic medical terminology; comprehend legal and ethical issues in healthcare; properly measure a patient’s vital signs; administer medication; perform various medical procedures
RNs with a BSN benefit from more career opportunities and a higher earning potential than those with an ADN. While ADN programs mainly focus on nursing courses, BSN programs also require students to complete general education requirements, exposing them to a range of topics.
These programs work best for students who can spend the extra time and money earlier in their career to earn their bachelor’s and for those who may want to earn a graduate nursing degree later in their career.
High school diploma or GED certificate; minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA; science and math prerequisite courses (grade C or better); pre-entrance exams (SAT/ACT)
Clinicals; community nursing; ethics; gerontology; leadership; microbiology; nursing principles; pharmacology; physiology; psychology; women’s health; pediatrics; foundations of faith community nursing
Critical thinking; case management; health and wellness promotion; leadership; evidence-based practice
Fait Community Nurse Licensure and Certification
To work in faith community nursing, nurses are required to be a licensed RN. While specific licensing requirements may differ state to state, the majority require nurses to hold either an ADN or a BSN from an accredited program and pass the NCLEX exam.
Faith community nurses must also follow their state’s guidelines on license renewal. RN license renewal processes do vary by state; however, most require between 24-30 direct contact hours. Certain states also require a portion of those hours to be spent focusing on specific areas of study. Most states require license renewal every two years, but the time can range from every year to every four years.
Although the American Nurses Credentialing Center previously offered a certification in faith community nursing, initial credentialing is no longer available. However, RNs who already hold the certification can continue to renew it.
Working as a Faith Community Nurse
Faith community nurses typically find work in settings such as parishes, hospitals, and community service centers. Those who work in religious settings, like within a congregation, might emphasize the spiritual aspect of their job. Those working in hospitals supplement a patient’s healthcare needs with their religious ones.
They often collaborate with healthcare professionals and ministry teams, serve as liaisons between the medical staff and parish communities, and promote not just physical health but mental and spiritual well-being (e.g., through prayer or meditation).
Payscale reports that the average annual salary for a faith community nurse is $68,590 as of July 2022. Faith community nurses’ salaries are slightly less than the average pay for all RNs, which is $77,600 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
While the BLS does not track demand for faith community nurses specifically, they project that all RN positions will see a 9% increase in employment, similar to the national average for all other occupations.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Parish Nurse
How long does it take to become a faith community nurse?
Since the minimum degree needed is an ADN, it can take as little as 2-3 years to become a faith community nurse. However, with most employers preferring RNs with a BSN, spending the extra two years to earn a bachelor’s degree could be worth it.
Are faith community nurses in demand?
Much like most other nursing specialties, there is a demand for faith community nurses. The BLS projects a 9% employment growth for all RNs. Parish nurses specifically may see an increase in demand due to the religious beliefs of an aging population and the decrease in nurses due to burnout caused by Covid-19.
Is it difficult to become a parish nurse?
Since faith community nurses need either an ADN or a BSN, earning the appropriate education is similar to most other RN programs. However, since the work itself heavily emphasizes spirituality, those who are less religious might avoid the speciality.
Do faith community nurses get paid well?
According to Payscale as of July 2022, faith community nurses earn $68,590, which is slightly less than the average pay for all RNs. Compared to other nursing specialties, compensation for faith community nurses ranks higher than pediatric nurses ($60,820) and public health nurses ($63,840), yet they make less than geriatric nurses ($70,290) and oncology nurses ($76,630).
Page last reviewed July 18, 2022