Parish Nurse

Deerhurst Parish Nurse….. Who am I and what do I do???

I am a 37 year member of Deerhurst, an RN, BSN graduate of Syracuse University. I am wife to Jack, Mom to Laura ,“Grammy” to Nolan and Evan and mother-in-law to Scott.

I volunteered to act as Parish Nurse, I think, in 2001. A member had given me an article about Parish Nursing and the name of a Parish Nurse at First Presbyterian in Buffalo to contact for more information. After presenting the idea to Doug Portz, Deerhurst’s pastor at the time, I “appointed” myself to the position of Deerhurst Parish Nurse. I then became a member of the Pastoral Care Team and learned how they were assisting in caring for the members of Deerhurst.

After doing additional reading on just what Parish Nursing involved and meeting with a real live Parish Nurse at First Presbyterian I joined a newly formed Parish Nurse organization in Buffalo. Catholic Charities of Buffalo offered a Parish Nurse course based on the national model that had been developed to educate registered nurses in the specialty of Parish Nursing in a faith community. I attended classes every Saturday for eight weeks and received a certificate of completion for the course. There is no “certification coursework” available in Parish Nursing at this time.

I have found a perfect description of Parish Nursing online and that description will follow. It is from a site called and is the best description I have seen.

Parish Nursing is a relatively new specialty that focuses on promoting health within faith communities, ministering to parishioners physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. A Parish Nurse is an RN with additional training who serves as part of a ministerial team to promote wellness and spiritual care within the congregation and community.

A Parish Nurse is not a primary care giver but serves more as a bridge between the church and healthcare system. The Parish Nurse does not replace the doctor or the pastor, but assists both. Unlike the doctor, the Parish Nurse recognizes the importance of spiritual health. Unlike the pastor, the Parish Nurse can provide medical support and assistance.

In 1997, Parish Nursing was accepted by the American Nurses Association as a nursing specialty practice requiring the registered nurse to practice in accordance with the nurse practice act in her state and comply with established standards of practice. These requirements dictate the additional coursework that I completed.

Each Parish Nurse ministry is dependent on the needs of the congregation.

Typically, the following areas will be included:

Health Educator – raises health awareness level and promotes healthy life styles through seminars, conferences and classes.

Personal Health Counselor – discusses personal health problems, recommends medical intervention, answers questions regarding medications and medical tests, offers blood pressure screening.

Visitation Minister – visits in homes, hospital and nursing homes.

Referral Source – helps members obtain needed services from church or community agencies or support groups

Client Advocate – intervenes for patient as necessary in hospital or office setting by talking to nursing /medical staff with patient permission.

What I do as Deerhurst Parish Nurse…

- Blood pressure screenings monthly

- Sponsor annual flu shot clinic

- Sponsor UNYTS blood drive annually

- Visit members in homes, hospitals and nursing homes

- Collaborate with others in congregation in presenting classes on

Emergency response for medical emergency during services

Health Care Proxy and Living Wills “Five Wishes”

- Phone and “in person” consultations on medical issues

- Collaborate with Pastor and Deacons on “care needs” for

our seniors and home bound members.

Barbara E. Burr RN, BSN Parish Nurse Deerhurst Presbyterian Church