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Parish Nurse Careers and Salary Outlook 2020

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Individuals who want to connect their faith to nursing may want to learn how to become a parish nurse. What does a parish nurse do and what are parish nurse requirements? This page details the career pathway, giving readers an overview of what parish nurses do, where they work, and what skills they hold. Readers can explore what it takes to earn a parish nurse degree and learn more about parish nurse salary upon graduation.

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What is a Parish Nurse?

Parish nurses are frequently known as faith community nurses, responsible for caring for the members within a faith community or parish. They use concepts of healing and faith to promote health and wellness within their communities. Parish nurses often work in church settings, although many practice in hospitals. The parish nursing specialty is one of the newer nursing specialties, officially recognized as a specialty by the American Nurses Association in 1998.

  • What Do Parish Nurses Do?

    Parish nurses hold the same responsibilities and work ethics as registered nurses, which means they may work long hours in group settings or independently. They treat ill patients and also counsel and educate patients, their families, and staff on illnesses and religious practices. Parish nurses may provide care for patients who share religious beliefs, or who request particular treatments due to religion. They may also treat patients through holistic healing to balance spiritual health with physical health and wellness. Faith and religion are a large part of parish nursing, which is why many parish nurses work within settings where a church or chapel is present.

    Similar to holistic nurses, parish nurses include concepts of mind, body, and spirit to provide preventative health screenings. These nurses serve the community in many ways, including volunteering at soup kitchens and shelters. Parish nurses lead support groups and provide education to their patients on health maintenance and preventative health efforts.

    These nurses provide parishioners with community resources and serve as a source of comfort and spiritual guidance for their patients. They counsel church members in hospitals or their homes.

  • Where Do Parish Nurses Work?

    Parish nurses typically work in church settings, across denominations, often focusing their work on non-denominational churches. They also often work in hospitals and social services agencies. Many hospitals feature chaplains, spiritual leaders, and chapels for patient care needs. Parish nurses often practice in these settings.

    Some hospitals function as entire faith-based organizations and many parish nurses base their careers in those churches. Parish nurses also often work independently with members of their faith community, providing both healing and spiritual guidance to patients across many backgrounds.

  • Skills That Could Affect Parish Nurse Salaries

    Parish nurses need a strong sense of faith and the ability to connect their nursing practice to ideas and thoughts of faith in God. Nurses should demonstrate compassion and empathy, providing quality care while simultaneously remaining thorough to ensure a patient’s total well-being.

    Parish nurses should demonstrate patience. They sometimes encounter high-stress patients and situations that require them to remain calm. Parish nurses should also be able to think clearly under pressure. These nurses must listen to the needs of their patients and communicate with them effectively while also communicating with colleagues to provide the highest quality of care.

How to Become a Parish Nurse

Individuals interested in learning how to become a parish nurse must first complete the necessary educational requirements to qualify for registered nurse licensure. Learners should complete their nursing degree at a two- or four-year university, earning an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing. They can then pursue their registered nurse licensure.

During the licensing process, individuals must complete the NCLEX-RN exam. Specific credentials and training programs are not required for parish nurses to practice. However, nurses can explore opportunities to get certified in the specialty and complete coursework relevant to the discipline.


Parish nurse educational requirements are the same as those needed for registered nurse licensure. All parish nurses need an active RN license to practice nursing professionally. Individuals interested in parish nursing can attend a four- or two-year university depending on whether they want to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing or an associate degree in nursing.

While licensing requirements allow candidates to hold an ADN or BSN, many organizations prefer nurses who hold a BSN. Nurses should ensure they complete their degree through a regionally accredited college or university.

Training and Certification

Parish nurses do not need to obtain certifications or complete credentials, but the American Nurses Credentialing Center highlights a registered nurses board certified credential for faith community nursing. To take advantage of the credential, individuals must hold their current and active registered nurse license and have completed two years of professional RN experience.

Nurses should also complete 30 hours of continuing education requirements in parish/faith community nursing along with 1,000 hours of practice in parish/faith community nursing. Individuals can obtain their certification through an online application or a portfolio. Aspiring parish nurses can also take advantage of courses from the Ministry of Church Health. Offerings include a faith community nursing coordinator course, a foundations of faith community nursing course, and an educator course.

Although specific credentials are not required to begin a career as a parish nurse, many employers gravitate toward job candidates who complete the faith community nursing credential or courses in faith-based nursing.

Parish Nurse Salaries and Job Growth

Parish nurse salary information varies depending on where nurses live. The profession’s national median salary is $60,001. Nurses in Los Angeles, California, earn the most, with the city’s median annual salary hovering around $103,571 — significantly higher than the national average. Other high-paying cities for the career include New York City, Houston, Dallas, and Chicago, with salaries ranging from $73,979 to $98,639.

Before professionals can begin careers as parish nurses, they must obtain registered nurse licensure. Registered nurses earn a national median salary of $63,263 and enjoy the highest paying job opportunities within the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry. California is both the highest paying state for the occupation and the state with the highest employment level. Nurses can review related job salaries, including certified nurse assistants, licensed practical nurses, emergency room registered nurses, and critical care registered nurses.

Highest Salary Locations for Parish Nurses
National Median $60,100
Los Angeles, California $103,571
New York, New York $98,639
Houston, Texas $79,616
Dallas, Texas $76,798
Chicago, Illinois $73,979

Source: PayScale

Related Job Salaries
Registered Nurse (RN) ertified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Registered Nurse (RN), Emergency Room Registered Nurse (RN), Critical Care
$63,393 yearly $27,891 yearly $43,528 yearly $66,391 yearly $72,656 yearly

Source: PayScale

Parish Nurse Resources

  • Catholic Health Association of the United States Dedicated to advancing the Catholic health ministry of the U.S. in caring for communities and people, this association comprises more than 1,600 long-term care and other health facilities and more than 600 hospitals in all 50 states. CHA is the country’s largest group of nonprofit healthcare providers.
  • Christian Community Health Fellowship Functioning as a community of Christian healthcare professionals dedicated to living out the gospel through providing healthcare, this group serves individuals who are medically under-served. Many of the fellowship members work in secular settings, such as universities, residency programs, and community health clinics.
  • Nurses Christian Fellowship A membership of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, this organization is dedicated to advancing the nursing field through education and practice. The fellowship promotes Christian nursing as a ministry of compassionate care to provide optimum health for individuals and communities.
  • National League for Nursing A national organization for leaders in nurse education and faculty nurses, this organization highlights networking opportunities, nursing research grants, public policy initiatives, and faculty development. The organization serves more than 40,000 members and 1,200 education and associate members.
  • American Nurses Association A professional organization dedicated to advancing and protecting the nursing profession, ANA represents registered nurses in the U.S. within 54 constituent member associations. The organization establishes standards for nursing practice and promotes the rights of nurses in the workplace. ANA highlights three subsidiary organizations, including the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Foundation, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
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