Parish nurse/health minister program to begin


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — In their service to others, parish nurses and health ministers integrate ministry, science and humanity. UnityPoint Trinity will offer training for prospective parish nurses and health ministers on the Rock Island campus Sept. 24 and 29 and Oct. 1, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27, 29 and Nov. 3 from 6-9 p.m.

Linda Guebert, UnityPoint’s parish nurse manager, said parish nurses and health ministers “connect individuals in our churches to promote health and wellness, and help to coordinate care in our faith communities.”

For example, parish nurses and health ministers:


• Promote health through newsletters, offer health screenings, provide information and facilitate support groups.

• Offer referral and advocacy, assisting clients with their plan of care after discharge from the hospital, working with their physician to promote compliance, and meeting with family members.

• Provide care coordination through visits to homes, hospitals and nursing homes, spiritual and emotional support, and bereavement visits.

• Coordinate volunteer efforts to assist parish members with individual needs.• Offer spiritual support to families in crisis; sit with family during a client’s treatment, use prayer and devotional aids to assist with healing.

The parish nurse program began in 1988 at Lutheran Hospital in Moline, Illinois, Guebert said. Seven nurses graduated from the first class and were anointed for their ministry. The program has educated 209 local registered nurses/health ministers and currently supports 39 nurses/health ministers.


Registered nurses with a current license in Iowa or Illinois who are committed to promoting holistic health may enter the parish nurse training. Prospective parish nurses should have at least two years of experience and an interest in providing spiritual care, as well as care of the body and mind.

Heath ministers are health professionals or laypersons who desire to promote holistic care to individuals. Health ministers work with a parish nurse, faith community nurse and/or pastor.


Parish nurses and health ministers may serve outside of their home parish or faith. “Success comes from the willingness of the nurse to understand the doctrines under which he/she will work and the church to educate the nurse on its particular set of beliefs,” the program information states. The position may be paid or volunteer.

Course objectives

Participants will discuss the role and function of the parish nurse/health minister within the faith community, study the concepts of holistic health and wellness and describe the role of the faith community in promoting health and wholeness. They will explore key aspects of healing and wholeness from the perspective of faith traditions, describe approaches to spiritual assessment and identify interventions to prevent disease in faith communities. In addition, they will discuss issues related to suffering, grieving, mourning and loss, and identify barriers to effective ministry. They will examine prayer practices to promote personal spiritual growth and coordinate care delivery. An anointing service follows course completion.

Guebert offers to talk with pastors to educate them on the role of the faith community nurse and promotes those who have completed the program. Church Health Center developed the curriculum and presented it as an educational partner of Westberg Institute.

Cost for the program is $300. Iowa nurses will receive 36 contact hours from UnityPoint Health – Trinity and Iowa Board of Nursing #305. Illinois nurses may use the program’s certificate of attendance for their Illinois license. Registration is due this week; cancellation must be received by Sept. 7.

For more information or an application, contact the parish nurse office at (309) 779-5122 or visit

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on