Parish nurse/health advocate training


By Lindsay Steele

The Catholic Messenger

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Many people need help traveling to doctor appointments, accessing necessities such as food and medication or just want to see or talk with someone, observes Linda Guebert, UnityPoint Health-Trinity’s parish nurse program manager. “Over the years, we have realized how important it is to have a nurse or health advocate in the churches to reach out to their faith community members to assist in many ways.”

She invites anyone interested in becoming a parish nurse or health advocate to register for training. Classes are Sept. 26-Nov. 2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 p.m. at Unity Point Health-Trinity’s Rock Island campus. The training is designed to adapt current nursing skills to the faith community setting.


Registered nurses with a current license in Iowa or Illinois who are committed to promoting holistic health may participate in the course. Parish nurses make visits to hospitals, senior living sites or homes to bring supplies, meals, encouragement and cheer. Health advocates work alongside a parish nurse or pastoral staff to promote wellness. In both capacities, they “keep people informed and answer questions about health, wellness and so much more,” Guebert said.

Course participants will discuss the role and function of the parish nurse/health advocate 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. Church Health Center developed the curriculum and presented it 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. Scholarships are available.

For more information or an application, contact the parish nurse office at (309) 779-5122 or visit by Sept. 18.

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