Q: What is parish nursing?

A: Also known as faith community nursing, parish nursing is a practice that focuses on a broad range of organized wellness, disease prevention, and health promotion programs and services. It’s offered by a licensed nurse in a local church.

Licensed registered nurses serve churches and ministries by managing a variety of health and wellness programs and serve as health educators, counselors, and referral agents to wellness resources. This role exposes parish nurses to several legal and ethical issues associated with administering medical care and handling private medical information.

When forming a parish nursing program in your ministry, it’s important to:

  • Screen all employees, volunteers, and independent contractors carefully.

  • Develop an appropriate agreement between your ministry and the parish nurse for any services that the nurse will provide.

  • Create written policies and procedures that clearly state your expectations for the parish nursing program.

  • Store medical records in a secure location, and make sure all workers understand relevant medical information privacy and data security laws.

  • Inform patients of medical procedures according to all relevant legal and ethical guidelines.

  • Develop appropriate referral guidelines for parish nurses to follow when referring patients to other health care providers and social service resources.

  • Routinely inspect all medical equipment and properly train workers who use it.

Seek Formal Legal Advice

Church leaders should consult with a local attorney who can provide guidance on the many complex legal issues involved in starting a parish nursing program. An attorney also can provide advice concerning associated federal, state, and local laws.

Recommended Resources

If you found this information helpful, you might be interested in these additional resources from Brotherhood Mutual:

Learn more about parish nursing programs in our article, Parish Nursing Programs: Integrating Faith and Health Programming.

Download our Background Screening Checklist.

Visit our Safety Library to find other articles, publications, and tools on wide range of topics relevant to your ministry.

*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide Legal Assist as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through Legal Assist are intended to provide general legal information to our current and prospective policyholders.

The information we provide is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. Accordingly, no attorney/client relationship is created through this process, and no legal advice will be provided. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.