What is Holistic Nursing?

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What is Holistic Nursing?

Origin of holistic nursing

This area of nursing has a long history with roots in the search for new ways of practicing medicine at early stages of modern Europe. It is a specialty area that draws much inspiration from the pioneer of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). She attended to wounded soldiers during Crimean War when unsanitary hospital conditions and fatal infections were common.

Nightingale believed that the key to a successful treatment is in healing the whole patient. Her vision still inspires nurses today leading acceptance of holistic nursing in many countries. For instance, nurses in the US began American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) in 1980 to advocate for this specialty practice drawing much inspiration and legacy from the work of Florence Nightingale.

The focus of holistic nursing is on the whole health. It is not just about treating symptoms of the illness or condition affecting a patient. A holistic nurse takes into consideration the environment and mental condition of a patient when treating the person for any ailment. The guideline for holistic nursing is that the treatment of a patient is not about the total of symptoms but looks at a patient as a person requiring overall healing.

In addition to using the traditional medical practices, a holistic nurse might incorporate other complementary and alternative medicine. The alternative medication might include dietary advice, meditation, and therapeutic massage. Holistic nurses can decide to provide supplementation with natural remedies and herbs if they do not interfere with the current medications for the patient. The treatment that holistic nurses offer to patients varies across practices. Always, the focus on complete overall wellness is the same.

American Nurses Association (ANA) recognized holistic nursing in 2006 to be a specialty nursing practice meaning that it is a field with a precise definition and regulation.

Pathway to becoming a holistic nurse

If your interest is in holistic nursing, start by acquiring a Bachelor's degree in nursing. After you get a degree, start taking courses about holistic medicine. Several mainstream nursing schools and colleges are now incorporating aspects of holistic medicine to their programs. Many potential holistic nurses can learn the art within a single school during the training duration. After comprehensive nursing training, nurses must get a license to practice.

Holistic nurses can advance their education to acquire a Master's or even Doctorate level degree. A nurse with one of these degrees can work as specialties such as midwives, advanced practice nurses, nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners.

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Job duties of a holistic nurse

A holistic nurse focuses on treating the entire body using alternative medicine and approaches. They usually combine traditional western medicine with non-traditional techniques that can help to promote both physical and emotional well-being.

There are various techniques but often include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Hypnosis
  • Aromatherapy
  • Eastern healing practices

Career options for holistic nurses

The popularity of holistic nursing is increasing drastically especially at metropolitan areas. A holistic nurse can work in various settings including:

  • Hospitals
  • Birthing centers
  • Physician’s offices
  • Home health care
  • Government and social services agencies
  • Clinics

Holistic nurses who work at hospitals or home health care settings might involve working in shifts at night, weekend and holidays as many patients require care 24 hours.

Holistic medicine complements the traditional practices by combining treatment of the body and mind. Holistic nurses are in a position to offer a better experience to the patients providing them an opportunity for pursuing lasting health and wellness.

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