Faith Community Nursing


What is Faith Community Nursing?

Faith Community Nursing (FCN) is a specialty area of nursing that addresses the needs of people from a whole person perspective—body, mind, and spirit. It combines the profession of nursing with health ministry, by emphasizing health and healing. Four major concepts are embraced: spiritual formation; professionalism; shalom as health and wholeness, and community, incorporating culture and diversity. Originally founded by Reverend Granger Westberg under the term “Parish Nurse”, this specialty has evolved and in order to recognize the inclusivity of this ministry, became Faith Community Nursing in 2005 with the revision of the Scope and Standards for Practice. However, parish nurse, congregational nurse, and/or health ministry nurse are all other acceptable terms for this work.

Who practices in the faith community ministry?

Registered nurses, in collaboration with the congregational staff and members, work towards the transformation of the faith community into a source of health and healing. As a recognized specialty of the American Nurses Association and other international organizations, specialty education is required. Marquette University College of Nursing is proud to be an educational partner with the International Parish Nurse Resource Center and therefore able to offer the standardized curriculum.

This course is offered at least yearly as a continuing education offering, but can also be taken for 3 undergraduate or graduate credits.

Where are faith community nurses found?

They are found all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and parts of Africa. They have their ministries in small and large congregations, are independently hired by congregations and placed in ministry by healthcare organizations. Some give of their time and talent; others receive a salary and benefits.

Why is this ministry important?

This role reclaims the historic roots of professional nursing. Aspects of health and healing found in many faith traditions are embodied in the role of the faith community nurse. These nurses work to bring preventive and restorative care to the faith community members and often to the surrounding neighbors as well.  This care extends to all across the lifespan.  Roles found in this care may include educator, advocate, referral agent, personal health counselor, support group facilitator, and coordinator of volunteers, but all are under the umbrella of integrator of faith and health.

Additionally, with the scarcity of health care resources, this ministry can help in the more efficient use of the resources. Faith Community Nurses can assist people to be proactive with preventive lifestyle strategies, utilize the healthcare system when needed, and continue with recommended therapies to prevent complications or long term disabilities.

Other links: International Parish Nurse Resource Center




College of Nursing Mission Statement

Through a transformational Catholic, Jesuit education, Marquette University College of Nursing prepares nurse leaders to promote health, healing and social justice for all people through clinical practice and development of nursing knowledge.