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Published December 04, 2011, 11:47 PM

It's My Job: ‘Faith community nurse’ wants to make a difference

FARGO - Bev Gravdahl has one goal: She just wants to be able to make a difference in someone’s life. She started out as a business major at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, but she left with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1992.

By: Jessica Ballou, INFORUM

FARGO - Bev Gravdahl has one goal: She just wants to be able to make a difference in someone’s life.

She started out as a business major at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, but she left with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1992.

“It was something where I felt a call, a pull, where I needed to be,” she said.

From 1992 to 2005, she worked at Altru Hospital and Clinic in Grand Forks before moving to Fargo with her husband and five children in 2006.

Gravdahl had been working at Fargo Cass Public Health for two years when she heard about the opportunity to be a parish nurse at Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo.

After taking a parish nurse prep course at Concordia College for certification and chatting with Olivet church members and staff, she was ready to go. Parish nurses are sometimes called faith community nurses, because places of work are not always churches.

“ ‘Faith community nurse’ is more appropriate because it’s more broad,” she said. “Just because we don’t share the same religious beliefs doesn’t mean we can’t support each other.”

She left her paid position at Olivet in October.

“I still volunteer, because I feel a call to parish nursing, and I love it,” she said. “It’s not work at all.”

What do you do, as a parish nurse?

It’s like a family thing we do … parish nurses get to wear so many hats … we help with nerves, calm people, give them education so they know what to expect. We serve as a referral source, support … I do a lot of outreach within the community. Praying with people is a lot of what I do … grief support, connect with other churches in the community, open up our doors to everyone, serve one another, take care of one another.

What’s your favorite part of this job?

The people are my favorite part … and that I’m able to practice and share my belief that the body, mind and soul are connected … Serving our most vulnerable. It’s an honor and a privilege to walk the journey with people from birth to elderly … I live it every day. I live it at the grocery store. I live it at my children’s schools when I talk to their teachers. Parish nursing is part of who I am.

There was a farewell party of sorts for you at Olivet on Sunday. What is this other position you have?

I started it three weeks ago, and I am the Dakota Medical Foundation Healthy Steps Outreach Manager. It’s a new area of nursing for me; however, parish nursing will guide me in this new role … I’m still here volunteering, and I’ll continue with visitations and screenings.

You mentioned this is a family thing. How so?

My husband, David, helps a lot … If an elderly person or widowed woman needs help … for instance, he has installed railings or medical devices in people’s homes. He’s always happy to help. My kids are all in the youth programs here at Olivet. My sons (Jayce, 15; Matt, 15; Adam, 11; and Andy, 11) help rake leaves, clean gutters. My daughter (Jennifer, 13) helps baby-sit.

Sometimes people ask me questions like, “Do you work more than just Sundays?” Yes! In our community, the parish nurses are dedicated and they work very hard … not a lot of congregations have a paid parish nurse position.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Ballou at (701) 237-7311


To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” email businessnews@forumcomm.com.

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