Parish Nurse Starter Kit
Are you interested in starting a Parish Nurse program but not sure where to begin? You've come to the right place. Let us walk you through the process step by step and give you the tools and information you need to be sucessful. 

First things first, let's start with the basics. Talk to your pastor about your interest in starting a Parish Nurse program. It's possible that your pastor will be unfamiliar with Parish Nursing and may need some information about how it will benefit your congregation. If it would be helpful, you can show him this document that contains some points to consider. You can also encourage your pastor to contact Pastor James Behringer with WELS Special Ministries for more information. 

Secondly, take a look through our Parish Nursing Guidelines. It will help you define what a Parish Nurse is, create a mission statement, and understand the four main roles of the Parish Nurse. Next, it will walk you through the necessary education, legal requirements and limits, and an example of how to organize a Parish Nurse program within the structure of the congregation. Finally, it wraps up with a check list for you to fill out so that with God's help, you will feel confident that you are ready to begin!

Thirdly, let's discuss insurance policies. Not all churches carry the same insurance policy and not all policies cover Parish Nurse programs in the same way. The bottom line is that you will need to contact your church's insurance provider and discuss your needs with them. However, here is a simple list for you to consider. 
  • Congregations should purchase a policy that covers the Parish Nurses. A typical cost for this coverage is $30-40 per year. The policy should cover the Parish Nurse performing his or her duties at the church, in a personal home, or at another location. It would be beneficial to decide up front how and by whom this cost will be covered.
  • While there is no formal recommendation by a governing body on the topic of personal liability insurance for the Parish Nurse, we do recommended that Parish Nurses carry their own liability insurance. State nursing associations often have information on such insurance plans.
  • In most cases, the church's policy will cover the Parish Nurse for transportation but it is beneficial to check with the insurance provider. In general, it is not recommended that Parish Nurses transport members. 
  • In the event that the insurance is needed, remember that the Parish Nurse's personal liability insurance will be used first, followed by the church's insurance. 
Please don't let the thought of needing liability insurance make you fearful of starting a Parish Nurse program. Refer again to the four main roles of Parish Nursing in the Guidelines linked above. A detailed job description should be written so that the Parish Nurse can feel confident that as long as he or she abides by the four general roles of health education, health counseling, volunteer coordination, and community liaison as described in the job description, the Parish Nurse is operating within his or her scope of practice. As with other areas of nursing, you will need to organize a way to document your visits with congregation members which will allow you the opportunity to expound on any unusual situations you may encounter that may bring your practice into question. From the Parish Nurse homepage, click on the link to Parish Nurse Forms for an example of how to document visits. 

Fourthly, start small. Don't expect that in your first week you will see all the shut in members, visit all the new mothers, and refer dozens of people to just the right resources. Carefully identify an individual or group of people to start with and slowly grow your practice as other needs surface. 

Finally, know that as you start your Parish Nurse program, you are not alone. You can always contact the WELS Nurses Association on their website or by email at WELSnurses.net with quesions or concerns. There are many current Parish Nurse programs in WELS churches and those nurses are more than happy to give you encouragement. You may want to consider obtaining a copy of the American Nurses Association’s Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice book as a personal reference. Last but not least, stay tuned for information about an online Parish Nurse course offered by Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milkwaukee, Wisconsin. While it is not offered every year, it is offered occasionally and is extremely informational. 

God's blessings as you use your nursing skills to benefit the family of believers.