Parish Nurse Certification and Certificate Program Options

Parish nursing certificate programs are designed for registered nurses who are interested in working as nurses, health educators, health counselors and volunteers within a religious or faith-based community. Certificate programs build upon previous nursing education and experience and provide students with the means to assess the health needs of a congregation.

Essential Information

Parish nursing is a specialty practice within the nursing field that combines faith and ministry services with nursing. Parish nurses are often registered nurses (RNs) who complete a Parish Nurse Certificate program through a university or healthcare training facility. Additional certification through a professional organization is not mandatory, but does give the parish nurse support and access to continuing education opportunities.

  • Prerequisites: Registered Nurse, practical experience.

Parish Nursing Certificate

Students enrolled in a parish nursing certificate program learn to integrate health science and nursing science with religious beliefs. They also learn how to carry out the specific duties and functions of a parish nurse, which may include conducting health screenings, teaching health education courses, assisting parishioners with lifestyle changes and providing preventive health education materials. Most parish nursing certificate programs are only open to RNs or individuals who have received a degree or diploma in nursing and have passed the licensing exam for nurses, the NCLEX-RN. Many schools also require incoming students to have at least two years of practical experience working as an RN before they can begin a parish nursing certificate program.

Parish nursing certificate programs typically include five or six courses that focus on the specific duties of a parish nurse as well as the ethical, legal and spiritual aspects of providing healthcare to a congregation. Some examples of courses include:

  • Health in the faith community
  • Legal considerations of parish nursing
  • Ethical considerations of parish nursing
  • Providing spiritual care
  • Evaluating health ministry
  • Prayer and worship leadership

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a parish nursing certificate program can go on to earn different professional titles within a religious community. Some of these include:

  • Health education director
  • Parish health counselor
  • Mission volunteer coordinator
  • Community liaison

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Job openings for registered nurses in general were anticipated to increase by 19% from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). As of May 2012, registered nurses earned a median salary of $66,640, per the BLS.

Certification Options

Parish nurses are not required to gain certification. However, the International Parish Nurse Resource Center does offer membership options to parish nurses who are interested in continuing education, training and community resources. Some of the continuing education courses offered by the organization provide parish nurses with the additional training necessary to supervise and coordinate teams of parish nurses or teach parish nursing to others.

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