Parish nursing is a movement that asks churches to renew their role in health care, which includes promoting health, preventing diseases, responding to crisis and emphasizing a holistic approach to health care. This ministry stems back to healing ministry of Jesus, who promoted wholeness to body, mind and spirit. Health is not just the absence of disease, rather it is the maximum attainable state of a person's emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual and vocational well being.
Parish nurses wear many hats. They often alert parishioners about need for medical attention or refer them to appropriate health care providers or community resources. As a health promoter they help those to understand relationship between lifestyle, attitudes, faith and well-being. They also advocate for those with regard to their health care. Some other roles include being a health educator (provide speakers and educational information on health and wellness), facilitator, monitoring and screening (provides non-invasive health screening) as well as personal health counselor (asses one's health needs, delivers information when need, and make hospital and nursing home visits). They also train volunteers to assist them in various activities.
There are four working models of parish nurses. There are the parish nurse/health minister model which has four variations, lay/pastoral model, healing congregation model and hospital-related partnerships. The needs of the congregation determines the type of model to be used. There are parish nurses that are paid and there are those that volunteer. Again that is determined by the congregation and the nurse and/or nurses.