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Exploring Faith Community Nursing
Faith community nursing integrates faith and healing to promote health and wellness within the community unlike traditional nursing models focused on curing illness and providing medically prescribed treatments. Faith community nurses understand the importance of health as a whole and that individuals spiritual, mental, and physical needs must be addressed to promote health and healing. A practice in multiple faith traditions, community health nurses work within medical facilities or church communities addressing the needs of the congregation, refugees, the aged and the impoverished by providing education, health counseling, and health advocacy services. The purpose of this paper is to explore the practice of faith community nursing and its role in healthcare today.
Faith community nursing, a specialty practice in multiple faith traditions, focuses on holistic care, prevention and wellness by incorporating the spiritual, psychological, physical, and social needs of the whole person. Faith community nurses often work for medical facilities serving aging or impoverished people or within church communities serving members of the congregation and providing outreach to the local community (Schroepfer, 2016). Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faith communities in more than 29 countries utilize the services of faith community nurses integrating holistic health into the spiritual ministry of the communities they serve (Nies, 2019).
Congregations, in conjunction with faith community nurses meet needs of vulnerable populations such as refugees, homeless individuals and families, low-income families, the elderly, and those affected by disasters. The faith community nurse provides support, outreach, and care for vulnerable populations in an effort to positively influence the health of these individuals by promoting a culture of caring amongst members of the congregation. The needs of these vulnerable populations are served through the collaboration of the faith community nurse and congregation members by collectively sharing talents and their desire to serve others (Nies, 2019).
Health services provided by community health nurses include coordination of services, case management for uninsured individuals, and personal health counseling. Working knowledge of medical support services in the community allows the faith community nurse to collaborate with agencies in the community to connect older adults with needed medical support and healthcare resources. Vulnerable populations often present with multiple complex health problems further complicated by lack of resources; faith community nurses collaborate with other healthcare personnel to provide medical guidance during patients transitions from hospital to home in an effort to improve outcomes (Schroepfer, 2016). Faith community nurses provide personal health counseling to individuals within church communities by discussing health problems and providing education on management of diseases such as diabetes (Nies, 2019). The health services listed above are just a few examples of services offered by faith community nurses.
Health Promotion Nursing Intervention
Health promotion for a faith community nurse incorporates individual spiritual beliefs and practices for members of the congregation he/she serves. Healthy People 2020 stresses the importance of mental health through prevention which faith community nurses can implement into their practice by establishing support groups for parents, teens, and those with drug/alcohol problems. Collaborating with professional mental health and drug and alcohol counselors to provide services within the church will help a faith community nurse foster healthy relationships that incorporate both the spiritual and emotional needs of members of the congregation (Pappas-Rogich, 2014). Additionally, the faith community nurse could teach teens about dangers of drug and alcohol use by partnering with local law enforcement agencies to present programs addressing drug/alcohol consumption during monthly teen support group meeting. Faith community nurses promote safety and reduction of violence by offering educational programs, annual health fairs or access to resources within the community such as counseling and shelter for women and children affected by domestic violence.
The overall health and well being of the faith community members can be addressed through faith community nurse sponsored activities such as annual health fairs, weight reduction meetings, and exercise programs. Faith community nurse could collaborate with local nutritionists, weight watchers programs, healthcare institutions and fitness instructors to provide fitness classes, nutrition classes, and health screenings for members of the faith community (Pappas-Rogich, 2014). Integration of the body, mind and spirit allows the faith community nurse to promote the overall health and wellness of members of the faith community in which they serve.
Professional Nursing Organization
The Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing, a professional nursing organization serving health ministry programs, provides faith community nursing education, research and consultation worldwide. Their mission is to combine both the practice of faith and nursing allowing faith community nurses to reach a level of completeness with themselves and the community in which they serve. This professional organization works to advance health ministry worldwide through the development of faith community nursing programs based on high-quality outcomes (Westberg Institute, 2019).
Many faith community nurses are finding themselves on the frontline of today’s crisis situations such as gun violence, opioid addiction and natural disasters. Westberg Institute is addressing these critical problems within communities by providing education for faith community nurses who are finding themselves in these situations. Education on ways to implement crisis prevention, manage crisis, and work with communities impacted by crisis are being offered at the 2019 Westberg Symposium where lectures are offered to faith community nurses addressing service through adversity.
Community health nursing embodies the spiritual, physical and mental needs of individuals within the context of faith communities to promote the overall health of members within the community served. Nurses practicing in community health function as educators, advocates, and counselors providing health services to members of parish communities, the aging populations and vulnerable populations such as the poor and homeless. The Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing is one of many professional organizations in existence that offer support and education for faith community nurses. Community health nursing, unlike traditional nursing, focuses on holistic care by incorporating individual’s spirituality with an emphasis on health and healing.
- Nies, M. A., & McEwen, M. (2019). Community/Public health nursing: Promoting the health of populations(7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Saunders/Elsevier
- Pappas-Rogich, M., & King, M. (2014). Faith Community Nursing: SUPPORTING Healthy People 2020 INITIATIVES. Journal of Christian Nursing, 31(4), 228–234. https://doi-org.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000104
- Schroepfer, E. (2016). Professional Issues. A Renewed Look at Faith Community Nursing. MEDSURG Nursing, 25(1), 62–66. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=112911538&site=eds-live&scope=site
- Westberg Institute. (2019). Westberg Institute for Faith Community Nursing. Retrieved from https://westberginstitute.org
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