Parish nurses and health ministers focus on spiritual needs


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Focusing on the spiritual needs of parishioners is a main objective of parish nurses and health ministers.


A new “Foundations in Faith Community Nursing Course” will be offered this spring in Davenport for individuals interested in serving as parish nurses or health ministers, said program organizer Jennifer Hildebrand.

She noted that registered nurses with a current license can become a parish nurse. Those who can become health ministers are retired nurses without an active license, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), social workers, allied health professionals, clergy, chaplains and lay persons interested in serving the faith community.


Health ministers serve alongside the parish nurse. “Together we take care of the spiritual needs, not just the physical needs,” said Hildebrand, coordinator of Genesis Health Ministry Nurse Program and a parish nurse at Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire.

Parish nursing began in Park Ridge, Ill., in 1983 where Hildebrand lived some years ago. “I remember driving by and thought ‘what do parish nurses do?’” At that point she wasn’t even interested in being a nurse.

Genesis Health Systems in the Quad Cities got involved in parish nurse training in 2001. When Hildebrand began her current position at Genesis she expanded the program to include health ministers.

She noted that Unity Point Health in the Quad-Cities also offers parish nurse training. “We are educational partners.”

The purpose of the spring education program is to prepare registered nurses and/or health ministers to develop or participate in the healing ministry of a faith community. Through the program, participants will identify the integration of faith and health as central to the community nurse role. They will demonstrate knowledge, attitude and skills to practice as beginning parish nurses and/or health ministers. They will identify a health ministry network of continuing development and support. They will learn core concepts of spiritual formation, professionalism, health and wholeness, and how to incorporate culture and diversity in faith community and/or health ministry.

The nondenominational courses focus on spirituality, professionalism, holistic health and community and are based on endorsed curriculum developed through the International Parish Nurse Resource Center/Church Health Center.

The program will be held April 17, 18, 24 and 25 and May 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and May 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All classes meet at Genesis Medical Center’s East Campus in Davenport in the Medical Office Building 2 lower-level conference room.

Cost is $200 for general registration and $175 for Genesis employees by April 3. Add $25 to the total after that date. Cost covers materials, breaks, one lunch and 36.8 CEU processing.

For more information, contact Hildebrand at (563) 421-5513 or (563) 370-4412.

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