Holistic Nursing Practice

According to the American Holistic Nurses’ Association, holistic nursing is described as a nursing practice that heals the whole person, acknowledging the totality of an individual, with a connection between their body, emotions, mind, and spirit as well as environment. Holistic nurses strive to make a personal connection with their patients, treating them as a “whole person” and not just a patient with specific symptoms or problems. They may work to combine alternative medicine with typical clinical practices to treat their patients. They do not just treat symptoms with western medication, but also look at potential causes, a patient’s nutrition, stress levels, environment, and often incorporate non-Western healing practices as well. These can include massage, touch therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy, or meditation.

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Certification is possible for holistic nurses, and is highly preferable, though not a requirement. Certification is often optional in most nursing specialties, but is looked on favorably as a sign of commitment to your field. Certification often brings with it more job opportunities, respect on the job, proof of competency and qualifications, as well as knowledge for you to bring to your career. Holistic nursing training programs and the certification exam is offered through the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC). Passing the examination makes you an HN-BC (holistic nurse- board certified), formerly known as HNC (holistic nurse certified). To emphasize the point, certification shows to both your employers and patients that you meet national standards, are dedicated to your specialty, and it also can increase your salary and career potential.

As with most nursing specialties, the first step toward this career is becoming a registered nurse. You can do this by earning an associate degree of science in nursing (ASN) in just two to three years, or by earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) at a four year college or university. The latter is ideal for optimizing your job and salary possibilities. Additional courses focusing on holistic nursing, either as an undergraduate or as an RN pursuing an RN to BSN, would be excellent for career preparation as well as a beneficial study strategy prior to taking your certification exam.Once you complete your degree, you will have to pass the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination) in order to practice as RN in your state. Becoming a holistic nurse practitioner is also an option if you choose to pursue graduate nursing education and gain some work experience in the field of Holistic nursing. New York University College of Nursing offers the first Adult NP/Holistic Nurse Practitioner program in the country. Check out online Nurse Practitioner programs as well as the NYU Adult NP / Holistic Nurse Practitioner program.

Holistic nursing is likely to be a part of the expanding healthcare industry as integrative medicine is on the rise. More and more Americans are aware of non-traditional approaches to healing and treatment, and are interested in a healthcare system that is about wellness and prevention and not just about treating symptoms and sickness. The salary for holistic nurses will vary greatly on location, but is about $44,000 in the U.S. according to simplyhired.com. This is just slightly lower than the $50,000 average for a standard registered nurse. Nurse Practitioners can make significantly more money depending on various factors.

Holistic nursing is not just a professional philosophy, but a way of life and attitude toward health and living. This is a unique nursing specialty that is not for everyone. However, if integrating western medicine with whole body healing is something you are passionate about and holistic living is a way of life for you, this could be the perfect choice that enables you to blend your beliefs with your career and allow you to bring your expertise to the field.

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(Sources: Nurse Week, American Holistic Nurses Association, American Holistic Nurses’ Certification Corporation)