7 parish nurses graduate
By Gisele McKnight
Saturday was a busy day for seven parish nurses in training. Their final class ended at 2 p.m. and their graduation began at 3:30.
It’s been 14 months of training for the seven, and it culminated in a ceremony at St. Margaret’s church on Forest Hill Road in Fredericton. Music, readings, prayers and a commissioning and pledge were presided over by the Rev. Richard Robinson. All clergy present joined Mr. Robinson in commissioning the new parish nurses, and a record crowd of 80 witnessed the event.
Anglicans Betty Steeves, St. Martin’s in the Woods, Shediac and Kathleen Snow, Christ Church Cathedral are two of the graduating parish nurses. The others come from Wesleyan, Baptist and Roman Catholic churches in New Brunswick, with one from Nova Scotia.
Nancy Wiggins is the parish nurse at St. Margaret’s, and she’s been instrumental in both the graduation ceremony and the advent of parish nursing in New Brunswick.
The concept was pioneered by a Lutheran doctor and pastor in the United States in 1984, when he realized the co-ordinating role nurses play between patients and doctors. He believed nurses had a role to play within congregations. It came to Canada in 1995, and to New Brunswick in 1996 with a Roman Catholic parish nurse in Bathurst.
All this caught the eye of Nancy, who helped organize a parish nursing conference here in 1997. They had an Anglican parish nurse from Victoria, B.C. as a guest speaker, and 75 people attended. It was a success, and Nancy and her colleagues have never looked back. As of Saturday’s graduation, there are 10 parish nurses in the Fredericton area alone.
“We’re still pioneering, but it’s been a good journey,” she said.
This is Nancy’s second career. She spent 31 years at the University of New Brunswick as a professor and then assistant dean of the Faculty of Nursing. She retired in 1999, but was already the parish nurse at St. Margaret’s by the time.
Gisele McKnight is communications officer for the Diocese of Fredericton.