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Parish Nursing Program Adds to Ranks
November 10, 2007

The 10th Calvin College parish nursing class will celebrate the completion of its program on Saturday, November 17.

A noon ceremony in the Calvin chapel will mark the completion of 36 hours of continuing education for the eight students in this class. The ceremony will be marked by both the receiving of a document of completion and a hand washing and blessing .

Said Calvin nursing professor Beth Gordon: "The dedication service is a worship service of praise and thanks to God for the nurses' vision of continued calling to service."

This new group of graduates will become part of a cadre of more than 100 registered nurses, representing 11 denominations, who have completed the program at Calvin College since it began in the fall of 2003.

Parish nursing is a 2,000-year-old tradition, partnering caregivers and churches in a relationship that seeks to heal body, mind and spirit. Its earliest roots are with the monks and nuns who provided care for the sick and caring for the children, the widowed and the poor during the early days of Christianity.

Although parish nursing waned for a time, as modern medicine took over caring for the sick, the tide has turned. Parish nursing is mounting a comeback. And the Calvin College department of nursing is lending a hand.

Gordon says a parish or church nurse is a registered nurse who works with a specific congregation to help church members maintain and improve their quality of life. She adds that the functions of a parish nurse will vary according to the needs of the congregation, but that the various roles may include integrator of faith, health educator, health counselor, referral agent and facilitator of volunteers and support groups.

A parish nurse usually does not provide "hands on care" or duplicate services. Rather, the parish nurse partners with other health care providers and church staff in responding to health care concerns and empowering individuals to take a more active part in their health care management.

In 1997 parish nursing was designated by the American Nursing Association as a speciality practice.

This winter Calvin will offer the eleventh session of its parish nursing basic preparation program. The weekend session dates are January 25 and 26, February 22 and 23 and March 21 and 22, 2008. The Friday time frame is 4 to 9:30 p.m. The Saturday time frame is 9 to 6 p.m.

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