Profiles in Nursing
Phyllis Solari-Twadell, a Leader in Parish Nursing
Community nursing with a spiritual focus
When asked what award means the most to her, Phyllis Solari-Twadell doesn’t hesitate to answer. It’s the quilt stitched from parish nursing scarves, presented upon completion of 15 years of leadership at the International Resource Center for Parish Nursing. It’s a highly personal tribute, one that in many ways captures the essence of parish nursing: a community working together, with the guidance of a nurse, to promote the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of its members.
She was, as she says, there at the beginning, in 1986, when the Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg, the “Johnny Appleseed,” began to formulate the nature of a different kind of nursing. From that beginning, and with major credit belonging to Solari-Twadell, parish nursing has won recognition by the American Nurses Association as a specific specialty with separate scope and standards. Parish nurses, representing all major religious traditions, are members of the staffs of their faith communities, work in all 50 states, and are often called congregational nurses or temple nurses. Their distinctive nursing work, not based on a medical model, has contributed to the language of nursing classification and intervention.
Solari-Twadell is now an associate dean and director of the ABSN program at the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola, Chicago. She is a 1968 graduate of the same school and earned a Ph.D. there in 2002. Her master’s degree in public administration is from Roosevelt University.
What does she have to say about parish nursing? It is, in her words, “a health promotion, disease prevention activity based on the care of the whole person.” Parish nursing encompasses seven functions: 1) integrator of faith and health, 2) health educator, 3) personal health counselor, 4) referral agent, 5) trainer of volunteers, 6) developer of support groups, and 7) health advocate. It is a professional model of health ministry with a professional registered nurse at its core.
By its very complexity, parish nursing requires education and experience beyond the pre-licensure level of preparation. It is an advance practice role requiring a seasoned practitioner who can serve across all age groups and who can integrate themselves into all parish activities. To that end, Solari-Twadell coordinated the development of a widely used, NLN-recognized core curriculum. She has co-edited with Mary Ann McDermott Parish Nursing: the Developing Practice, Parish Nursing: Promoting Whole Person Health with Faith Communities, and Parish Nursing: Development, Education and Administration.
Solari-Twadell currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Addictions Nursing — a not unrelated field if we consider the role of spirituality in addiction recovery — and she is a member of the American Academy of Nurses. Along with her colleagues S. S. Bunkers and C.E. Chang, she has been recognized by Sigma Theta Tau for their study, “Pinwheel: Model of Bereavement.”
Elizabeth Hanink RN, BSN, PHN is a freelance writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.
This article is from workingnurse.com.