Since writing the first Nursing in the Church column in the Journal of Christian Nursing in 2009, Sharon Hinton, MSN, BSN, RN-BC, DMin, has witnessed the development of faith community nursing in the United States and beyond. In recognition of her 10 years as the column’s author, we asked her to share some insights.
An Interview with Sharon Hinton
Q: How has FCN changed since the 2009?
A: From my viewpoint, FCN has grown out of its infancy. There has been more recognition of the specialty as actual nursing practice. Also, ANCC certification recognition, even though currently on hold, provided validation and encouragement for younger nurses. Global activity has increased with courses being taught in over 30 countries. Also, the unpaid model is being replaced slowly by paid positions. FCNs have moved out of strictly the church setting; they’re also in faith-based organizations and businesses interested in providing holistic care to employees and customers. For example, Dollywood and Stone Mountain Georgia have teams of FCNs.
Q: What topics have stood out to you as most significant over these 10 years?
A: The challenge always has been to be focusing on God. As an RN, it is easy to get so focused on physical needs that spiritual needs take a back seat. One purpose of the column is to remind FCNs to be intentional in caring for the spirit first in their nursing assessments and care plans.
Q: Why does the church need nurses involved in their communities and congregations?
A: Not all communities have local hospitals, clinics, or other health providers, but almost all have some sort of church. FCNs are on the front lines of health and wellness. They make a difference through early assessment, preventive care, education, and advocacy. Often people who might never pass through a church door will do so to see the FCN or attend a program or course offered by a FCN. It is the FCN who can walk between healthcare and religion, cultures and nationalities, wellness and illness, and make a positive difference in others’ lives.
Q: Looking forward, how will FCNs influence or serve faith communities in new or different ways?
A: The role of FCNs changes as church and community needs change. I see FCN practice continuing to expand outside the church and into the community. FCNs are partnering more with chaplaincy, lessening the gap between hospital discharge and home care. As hospitals gain understanding of the value of FCN practice and more positions are paid, younger nurses will bring continued growth and new vision to complement the experience and knowledge of seasoned FCNs.
Sharon Hinton is a contributing editor for the Journal of Christian Nursing. She writes the “Nursing in the Church” column for JCN and is an FCN educator, coordinator, curriculum writer, international presenter, and spiritual director.