New certifications in parish nursing now available for ordained and lay leaders

4/4/2016

United Methodist parish nurses now have the opportunity to earn certification in their specialized ministry. Developed in consultation with Discipleship Ministries and the Global Health Division of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is now offering deacons or elders who are also parish nurses a certification in parish nurse ministry. Discipleship Ministries is offering a parish nurse specialization for nurses through the certified lay ministry process.

While other organizations offer certification in faith-community nursing, the GBHEM certification is explicitly United Methodist in that in entails education in United Methodist history, doctrine, polity, resources and mission. 

“This is an opportunity for United Methodist parish nurses to get a distinctly United Methodist certification and enhance their connection with other United Methodist nurses,” says Victoria Rebeck, director of Deacon Ministry Development and Provisional Membership, Division of Ordained Ministry at GBHEM. She adds, “Parish nurses continue John Wesley’s interest in health and wholeness. This certification recognizes and supports that vital community ministry.”

Parish nursing has long been a part of congregational health under Global Ministries’ Global Health Unit. The term “parish nurse” was chosen by Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg in 1985 to name this specialty practice because it connoted service not only to congregations, but also to the wider community. Global Ministries will promote the ministry tracks for the parish nurse through its UMC Health Ministry Network of parish nurses. 

“For health ministry to flourish, you need a parish nurse or person with a passion for health to advocate for programs that will improve the health of the local congregation and the community,” says Dr. Olusimbo Ige, executive director of Global Ministries’ Global Health Unit. “Not every community has a hospital or medical facility, but every community has a church which can positively influence and educate congregations and communities regarding holistic health practices of health ministry,” she explains. Global Ministries will assemble a roster of nurses who have completed the certification process for support and networking purposes. 

Ordained United Methodist Parish Nurse Certification

Clergy (or those pursuing ordination) seeking professional certification in United Methodist parish nursing must meet the standards set by GBHEM’s Division of Ordained Ministry: 

Education Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree (at minimum) in nursing from a college or university recognized by the University Senate
  • Completion of the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course offered through Church Health Center (or equivalent training as approved by GBHEM)
  • One of the following options in graduate education:
    • Master’s degree in nursing or public health
    • Master’s degree in divinity or theology (elders must use this route)
    • Eight graduate semester hours in the area of specialization at an accredited institution recognized by the University Senate, such as nursing, public health or counseling
  • Students must complete their graduate studies within 10 years
  • Basic Graduate Theological Studies (B.G.T.S.), required for ordination, at a theological school recognized by the University Senate
Professional Requirements
Certification students must have the following requirements:
  • An active nurse’s license in the state where practicing
  • Two years’ experience working in parish nursing
  • A commitment to continuing education that includes a planned program to enrich both personal and professional growth 
  • Personal and church qualifications and experience in the area of parish nursing, as determined by GBHEM
Candidates for certification are certified by their conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM) in cooperation with GBHEM

Certified Lay Ministry Parish Nurse Specialization

Nurses who are lay people, and who expect to remain lay people, should pursue the Certified Lay Ministry Parish Nurse specialization. 

“Meshing parish nursing with the certified lay minister (CLM) program provides a system of training, supervision, support and accountability through the already established CLM program that will help expand the scope of parish nursing in the areas of healthy congregations and healthy churches,” says Jodi Cataldo, director of Laity in Leadership, Leadership Ministries, Discipleship Ministries. She adds, “This type of certification will also create more ministry opportunities in addition to the great work parish nurses are already doing, because of this stronger connection with the annual conference.”

Patricia Magyar, Global Ministries’ executive secretary for US health programs, agrees saying, “This is very exciting for parish nurses. I believe this will give nurses more status and a more significant place in the UMC connection.”

To learn more about certification in the United Methodist parish nurse ministry for clergy, send a message to certification@gbhem.org. To learn more about certified lay ministry certification, send a message to laity@gbhem.org