ICHM Continuing Education

A core value of InterChurch Health Ministries (ICHM) Canada is a commitment to ongoing educational opportunities for church health committees, interested congregational members and parish nurses. Each year there is a schedule of educational opportunities offered in person, online and through teleconferencing.

The one constant is the Parish Nursing Education Program.

Offered at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, the program is currently being re-designed as a one-week program/retreat. It is known as The Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Education Program. ICHM Canada is in partnership with the Church Health Centre in Memphis, TN which allows us to utilize their education program. It is a highly researched program written by a committee of highly qualified clinicians and clergy. It is updated every five years.

Practicum and Mentor Relationship

Classroom theoretical content is followed by a six-month practical experience within the congregational setting for each parish nurse taking the program. During this practicum, each student has access to an experienced parish nurse who acts as their mentor. This support is key to the student having a meaningful, positive experience as expressed by former parish nursing students themselves. This relationship is effective in collaborative problem solving and the day-to-day ‘how to’ of building a trust relationship with members of the nurse’s congregation.

The mentor and mentee meet as often as necessary. Frequently, these partnerships continue on after the student completes her parish nursing program.

Professional Practice Group

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) recognizes parish nursing as a specialty form of nursing. Thus, parish nurses and student nurses in the education program attend geographically-based Parish Nurse Professional Practice Group (PNPG) monthly meetings. These groups provide ongoing professional support; are an avenue for resource sharing; problem solving; and are an educational component of, and spiritual support for, each nurse’s parish nursing practice.

Skype Meetings

Parish nurses who are geographically dispersed attend a monthly meeting via Skype meeting technology.

Program Delivery Models

The configuration of program delivery varies. Our affiliate in Saskatchewan delivers three modules per weekend (Friday evening and all day Saturday).

In Ontario, the program is delivered at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto. The general format remains the same at each site with a practicum: a mentor-mentee relationship followed by a service of recognition and blessing at the completion of the program. For general information about our program, click here.

Learning through the Use of Technology

In an effort to make the education program more accessible to students living at a distance from the Toronto program, the Ontario program has been offered for the last two years via computer technology. Thus far, two thirds of the modules are now available by video-conferencing techniques. Students distant from Toronto have access to simultaneous transmission of the classroom teaching and discussions.

The documentation module is offered online making it convenient for students to take it at a suitable time.

Phase One

In Phase One, the nurse participates in a six-month practicum experience of at least four hours per week. The first initiative is usually to work with the church’s health committee to begin establishing the ministry. It is very helpful if clergy and health committee members have attended some of the classes. After this first phase, the tasks are clear and the work of analyzing the needs of the congregation and creating a profile for the ministry can begin. This is when the parish nurse candidate benefits from advice from her mentor on how she approached the beginning of her work with her health committee.

Phase Two, Phase Three

In the second phase, the parish nurse candidate works effectively with her: mentor, clergy and health committee members. She continues to seek support and guidance from her mentor and specific professional practice group members. ICHM Canada staff is also available for support and problem solving to individual students. Staff connections can be made through ICHM Canada across professional practice groups for idea sharing, support and for specific, possibly unique, situations that a parish nurse may confront.

The clergy, health committee and congregation have access to the resources and consultative support of ICHM Canada staff throughout the education program, and beyond.