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New Trends In Nursing


There is a growing trend in American health care that can easily fall under the category of "good news." Parish nursing began centuries ago, but churches have begun embracing the model of holistic health that centers on mind, body and spirit. As staff members, these nurses help congregants navigate an increasingly complicated system.  Reed Galin has more.


(Locator: Kirkwood, Mo.)

Carol Connolly/Parish Nurse, Kirkwood United Methodist Church: “Every parish nurse's job is different, and one of my challenges was to find out what the needs of the church were.”

Carol Connolly is a registered nurse who’s part of a growing trend. It's estimated that more than 7,000 nurses in the U.S. are now tending to their church congregations.

Carol Connolly/Parish Nurse, Kirkwood United Methodist Church:  “It’s not just the medical model.  It’s your heart, it’s your mind, it’s your physical body, it’s your spirituality.”

Connolly's work involves every age and condition. From instructing children…

Margaret Cravis/10-year-old: “I learned how to eat right and choose some healthy foods.”

Nat/Exercise Class: “Big rotation from the waist…”

…to enriching retirement.

Bob Gray/Member, Kirkwood United Methodist Church: “We all have problems, physical problems at this age.”

Members of Kirkwood United Methodist Church near St. Louis learn about living longer, and better.

Today, Connolly is taking kids to a restaurant to teach them about eating right.

Sarah Bonner/9-year-old: “Because if you don’t, you’ll get fat and then you’ll get really sick.”

And she gives a weekly blood pressure check to the Romeos – “retired old men eating out.”

Robert Frost/Romeo’s Member: “As long as I get as much as I can out of each day, that’s all I expect.”

Traditional medical treatment is still left to doctors, but the integration of faith and health is obvious here.

Carol Connolly/Parish Nurse, Kirkwood United Methodist Church: “It's hands-off for invasive procedures. It's not hands-off for touching and for hugs.”

And Connolly says T-L-C is a big part of getting better, and staying healthy.


Connolly also teaches her church members about midlife issues and living wills.  And she’s been helping straighten out the confusion about the new Medicare drug benefits.

For more information about parish nursing, contact the International Parish Nurse
Resource Center at or call 314-918-2559.

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