Parish nurse/health minister training


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Parish nurses and health ministers “offer a presence, prayer and knowledge to assist clients in times of need,” said Linda Guebert, UnityPoint Health-Trinity’s parish nurse program manager.

UnityPoint Health-Trinity is offering courses for those interested in becoming a parish nurse or health minister. Classes are Sept. 27-Nov. 3 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 p.m. at Unity Point’s Rock Island campus.

Guebert 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.”


The parish nurse program began in 1988 with its first class graduating in 1989. More than 200 individuals have completed the program and there are currently 40 nurses/health ministers supported by the program.

Parish nurses/health ministers can help the faithful “draw on their faith for strength. Nursing began as a ministry — parish nursing returns it to those roots,” Guebert said.

Parish nurses/health ministers can volunteer or be in a paid position. Those who complete the program can work for their own church, another in the same faith or in a church of another faith.

“Several churches have nurses not of their spiritual home or faith. Their 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. Before the nurse begins, it is important to determine if this arrangement will work for the church and then provide training in their faith to the nurse,” Guebert said.


Registered nurses with a current license in Iowa or Illinois who are committed to promoting holistic health may participate in the parish nurse course. Health ministers will work with a parish nurse, faith community nurse and/or pastor.
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.

The curriculum was developed by Church Health Center and presented as an educational partner of the Westberg Institute — now a part of Spiritual Care Association.

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..

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

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