What is Holistic Nursing?

Nursing is the act of caring for another person’s health and well-being. It is a special calling that requires years of study, the desire to help others and the ability to provide necessary interventions that benefit the lives of those within any medical establishment, hospital, nursing home, neighborhood or community. Nurses are especially critical in the hands-on care that many patients require, and can even provide the necessary time and effort it takes to listen to a patient’s needs and advocate on their behalf. It is these skills and abilities that also take a toll on the health and wellness of the nurse, at times causing burnout and career dissatisfaction, and many nurses find that using alternative healing methods in their own lives can help reduce stress and increase job and career satisfaction.

The concept of holistic nursing may be tied to the years in which nurses were given more than charts and care plans, but were also allowed to draw upon various non-medical ideas, practices and activities in order to help patients heal. Holistic nursing is the combination of modern, medical treatment and alternative therapies, helping to heal patients through scientific and intuitive measures. A holistic nurse is a certified nurse who has received the same nursing education through a college, university or online nursing school, but also has experience with complimentary/alternative modalities (CAM) that include natural products, mind-body medicine, manipulative and body-based practices and other non-Western practices.

Some of the alternative treatments that fall under CAM include acupuncture, dietary supplements, meditation and yoga. Physical manipulation of the spine, craniosacral therapy, and massage can increase immunity and neurological function, among other conditions. Energy healing inherent in reiki or qi gong are both non-invasive techniques that can be used by a holistic nurse to help with physical, mental and emotional health issues without medicine or physical contact. Other health systems including homeopathy, naturopathy, Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine may also be integrated into patient care by a qualified holistic nurse. While these therapies have been scientifically researched as to the benefit to the patient, they are still considered alternative treatments and should only be used under the direction of a medical professional.

Holistic nurses believe in integrative therapies and complementary medicine to enhance current medical treatments and give patients more control over any health concerns and outcomes. Combining scientific research, Western medicine and natural therapies can increase the ability of patients to heal from illness, provide lasting stress-management tools and provide patients with a whole-body and mind approach to physical, mental and emotional well-being.