1. Gather information
Read books on faith community nursing. There are excellent books/resources written by Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg, Dr. Scott Morris, Jill Westberg McNamara, Deb Patterson, and Ann Solari-Twadell & Mary Ann McDermott. Visit with faith community/parish nurses, clergy and lay leaders who are already involved with health & healing ministries.
2. Gain support of the clergy and leadership
Clergy leaders are vital in the development and ongoing support of the program. Encourage clergy to provide homilies and sermons on health and healing. Clergy may help select members for task force or initial committee for program development.
3. Inform and involve the faith community
Survey the faith community for individuals interested in program assistance (they do not have to be involved in health care!). Show videos related to parish nursing (program development and sustaining ministries).
4. Develop a Health & Wellness Council
This group should consist of 6-10 members: health care providers, social workers, dietitians, parents, health educators, potential care recipients, etc. It is important that this group is actively involved.
5. Establish a link with the local health care agency (optional)
This relationship provides support and credibility. They may serve as formal or informal partners.
6. Select one or more faith community nurses
The individual must be a registered nurse who is currently licensed in the state in which they will practice; generally from within the faith community/congregation, but may be selected from outside of the setting. Types of past clinical experience is less important than personal faith and caring presence. The nurse would benefit from having a solid background in pathophysiology, community health principles, and knowledge of local/regional resources.
7. Offer initial education
The nurse should attend a Westberg affiliated faith community nurse foundations course. Please refer to the Westberg Institute's website for additional information. Seriously consider the type of program to attend as educational programs are offered in a variety of format (in-class, on-line, hybrid), locations, and length of program offering (a minimum of 36 contact hours is required).
8. Introduce the new faith community nurse
A commissioning Service is encouraged during each of the worship services. On-going visibility is helpful to develop and sustain the role.
9. Clarify expectations of the faith community nurse
A position description is necessary - regardless if the individual is a paid or unpaid staff member. Avoid using the terminology of "volunteer". Consider reimbursement for travel and expenses if a salary is not available. Provide an adequate amount of time, space and equipment to support the program.
10. Encourage spiritual growth, self-care and continuing education for the faith community nurse
Networking with other nurses on a monthly/quarterly basis is helpful through annual symposiums, conferences, workshops.