The Alaska Faith Community Nurse Resource Center is part of the Spiritual Care department and serves the state of Alaska faith community nurses and health ministers who are bringing whole-person care to their local faith communities. At Providence Alaska Medical Center, we believe that extending the compassion and healing ministry of Jesus nurtures not just physical health, but also brings wellness to spiritual and emotional health.
Providence Alaska Medical Center’s vision mandates that we reach out in every way possible, helping educate and encourage whole-person wellness. The Alaska Faith Community Nurse Resource Center supports this vision and the promise to “know me, care for me, ease my way” for each of the faith community nurses and health ministers supported.
The Alaska Faith Community Nurse Resource Center is just one more example of how Providence Alaska Medical Center invests in whole-person health across the great state of Alaska.
The faith community nursing movement has been active in Alaska since 2001 when Annette Stixrud, Executive Director of Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries called Sue Wiese, parish nurse pioneer and vision holder for Alaska, asking if she would coordinate a basic Parish Nurse Class in Anchorage. Sue reported “from then on my initial decision to say yes to help coordinate this class was filled with great blessing.”
Supported by Providence Alaska Medical Center, the Alaska Faith Community Nurse Resource Center serves Alaska faith community nurses and health ministers as they fulfil their mission – “As expressions of God’s healing love, witnessed through the ministry of Jesus, we are steadfast in serving all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.” Living out this mission includes faith community nurses in diverse cultural and belief settings, bringing whole-person wellness to a broad spectrum of individuals.
In October of 2022 the Alaska Faith Community Nursing Resource Center brought the faith community nurses and health ministers together to celebrate 20 years of ministry! Over these two decades the following low estimates of impact reflect the great outreach of the participants.
- Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Courses Offered – 20
- Faith Community Nurses/Health Ministers Trained – 269 individuals
- Unpaid Professional Hours Given – 5950
- CPR Certified Training Provided – 37 individuals
- Family & Friends CPR Training Provided – 38 individuals
- Blood Pressure Clinics Held – 697
- Blood Pressure Screenings Provided – 3438 individuals
- Referrals to Primary Care Providers – 210
- Continuing Education Provided to Registered Nurses – 352 hours
- Ice Cleats Provided for Distribution to Faith Community Members – 532 pairs
- COVID-19 Tests Distributed – 100
During the COVID-19 pandemic, faith community nurses and health ministers were instrumental in helping their faith communities navigate rapidly changing guidance. From providing education on how to identify reliable information to participating in discussions on the best way to meet safely, they led with hope and inspiration. They continue to bring whole-person wellness to faith communities across Alaska.
Faith Community Nurses are licensed, registered nurses who practice wholistic health for self, individuals, and the community, using nursing knowledge combined with spiritual care. They function in paid and non-paid positions as members of the pastoral team in a variety of religious faiths, cultures, and countries. The focus of their work is on the intentional care of the spirit, assisting the members of the faith community and other faith-based organizations to maintain or regain wholeness in body, mind, and spirit (Faith Community Nursing – Westberg Institute Community).
The practice of faith community nurses is governed by the Nurse Practice Act of their state of licensure (Alaska Statutes and Regulations – Nursing) or an international equivalent, and the Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, the Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, and the Code of Ethics with Interpretive Statements (for nurses), all produced by the American Nurses Association. These guidelines provide clear direction to faith community nurses and when paired with the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing coursework, offer the groundwork for developing and sustaining health ministries in local faith communities.
An ideal faith community nurse is an individual with a heart for people. Their education will include at least a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Professionally they have an active license in the state of practice or the international equivalent. Experience in community health nursing is a plus. Additional training will include the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course from an accredited school, and they should have specialized knowledge of the spiritual beliefs and practices of the faith community, organization, and communities they serve. Their personal lives should reflect individual spiritual maturity in practice and example. They are organized, flexible, self-starters, and good communicators.
A summary of Faith Community Nursing, based on a literature review of 124 faith community nursing articles (Ziebarth, 2014) found that faith community nurses:
- Routinely perform intentional spiritual care, spiritual leadership practices, and integration of health and faith.
- Practice with or in a faith community, home, health institution, or other community setting with fluidity and consistency.
- Are a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary team member, advocating and providing resources from many different sources.
- Coordinate, implement, and sustain ongoing activities.
- Routinely utilize and apply results from surveys.
- Are familiar with and able to implement community and public nursing concepts and practices.
- Are familiar with motivational and empowering techniques to encourage life-style change.
- Routinely train and utilize volunteers.
- Practice with the knowledge and skills as a generalist (assessment, prevention, disease process, procedures, treatments, and end-of-life issues).
- Are accessible (long-term), approachable, professional, culturally sensitive, and communicate well.
- Understand the concept of “wholistic health” functioning.
The Alaska Faith Community Nurse Resource Center serves both the health system and the faith community. The unique relationship creates a vital link between the two through the over 250 faith community nurses and health ministers who have complete the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course in Alaska.
Some of the many benefits Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers can receive from the Alaska Faith Community Resource Center at Providence include:
- Monthly Network Meetings
- Monthly Newsletters
- Annual Health Ministry Gatherings, Retreats, and Conferences
- On-site Consultations and Support
- No-cost Providence Nursing Institute Approved Continuing Education Offerings (a provider of continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation)
- Access to the Faith Community Nurses Consortium Library sponsored by the University of Alaska Anchorage
- Resource Library of Books, Publications, DVDs, and Video Programs on Faith Community Nursing, Disease-specific topics, and proven program for Faith Communities
- Documentation Resources for Faith Community Nurses’ Health Ministry records