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Duke's Divinity and Nursing Schools Create New Parish Nursing Program

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke Divinity School and the Duke School
of Nursing have joined together to create a new parish nursing
program.

The new Health and Nursing Ministries Program will combine
master's-level work in theology and advanced nursing practices.
The program is designed to train nurse leaders in the delivery
of health care within their faith communities.

On Oct. 7, a kickoff celebration dinner was held on campus
to showcase the program for Triangle-area nurse leaders. Some
50 people attended.

Divinity School Dean L. Gregory Jones said of the program,
"The Divinity School takes seriously both the training of
people as health care providers and as theologically educated,
faithful members of the Christian community.

"Although there are inherent distinctions between the
discipline of theology and nursing, we intend to emphasize
their common commitments. We are extremely grateful to The Duke
Endowment for its support of this initiative."

The Charlotte-based Duke Endowment, one of the nation's
largest foundations, has funded the program with an initial
grant of $130,000.

Said School of Nursing Dean Mary Champagne, "Nurses always
have the desire to reach people. I believe we have created an
innovative way to bring care to the community. Of course,
nurses expect to learn from congregations, too."

Serving as the program's director is Dr. Keith Meador,
professor of the practice of pastoral theology and medicine who
holds degrees in theology, medicine and public health, and is
on the faculty of Duke's medical and divinity schools.

"Recent scholarly literature in both medicine and theology
affirms the existence of an ancient, concrete and constructive
relationship between religious faith and the care of the sick,"
he said.

"Nursing has historically been the one health care
discipline that has focused consistently upon being present
with the chronically ill and suffering, and we believe that it
possesses, by its very nature, the moral resources to resist
the technical, consumerist and impersonal pitfalls of some of
the excesses of contemporary medicine."

Serving as associate director is Ruth Ouimette, assistant
clinical professor in the School of Nursing. Speaking before
nurse leaders on Oct. 7, she said, "The opportunity to teach
nursing students and divinity students together is going to
make a big difference."

Parish nursing has had a long tradition within church
ministry and nursing. From the second century on in Europe, the
Catholic Church saw organized public care of the sick as an
integral part of bearing witness to the Christian gospel. In
the Middle Ages, several monastic traditions took up the care
of the sick as a hands-on way to do God's work. At the
beginning of the 20th century in America, many public-health
nursing societies held church affiliations.

The Health and Nursing Ministries Program will accept its
first class in fall 2000. Some 10 to 12 students are expected
to enroll. Students must have a bachelor's degree in
nursing.

Three master's-level tracks will be offered:

Master in Church Ministries (MCM) - A two-year, full-time
degree program offered by the Divinity School that prepares
nurses for work as health care ministers in local congregations
and other health care settings. Graduates are trained to work
in a variety of parish-based health care settings.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) - A two-year, full-time
program offered by the School of Nursing that provides nurses
with advanced preparation as clinicians and as administrators
of health-and-nursing ministries. Graduates are prepared to
provide nursing care in community-based settings, including
faith communities. They also are prepared to develop and
coordinate parish nursing programs.

Joint Masters in Church Ministries and Science in Nursing
(MCM & MSN) - A three-year, full-time program offered
jointly by the Schools of Divinity and Nursing. The program is
designed for students who want a thorough preparation in both
advanced nursing practices and theological education. Graduates
are prepared to develop, initiate and coordinate comprehensive
parish and community nursing programs, as well as serve as
members of church staffs or work in urban ministry centers.

Courses to be offered in the Divinity School include church
history, Biblical studies, Christian theology and ethics,
health care ethics and pastoral care. Nursing courses will
include health promotion and disease prevention,
population-based approaches to health care, diagnostic
reasoning and physical assessment in advanced nursing practice
and health-services program planning and outcome analysis.

Also offered through the program will be three
interdisciplinary courses. One course will trace the
parish-nursing movement from the 1960s on. Another course will
examine chronic illness, as well as suffering and dying, from
theological, medical and psychosocial perspectives. A final
seminar course will give students a chance to develop a
philosophy of health care, grounded in the practice and
theology of their respective religious communities.

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