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What is Holistic Nursing?

April 10, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Holistic nursing is a nursing concept that focuses on treating the patient wholly rather than treating their symptoms of the condition they have. A holistic nurse is also referred to as a contemporary nurse and is a board-certified member Registered Nurse who takes the mind-body-spirit-emotion approach when practicing nursing.

Introduced by Florence Nightingale, holistic nursing introduces alternative medicine forms over western medicine to their practice. Holistic Nurse introduces therapeutic massages, dietary advice, meditation, and breathwork therapy.

Holistic nurses encourage their patients to practice self-care, spirituality, self-responsibility, and refection to their lives to help maintain a great balance between mind, body, and spirit.

Why is Holistic Nursing Care Important?

The American Nurses Application introduced holistic nursing as a specialty in 2007. According to ANA, the holistic nursing approach is the practice of healing the whole person. This means that a holistic nurse will have to consider the patient’s body, mind, spirit, socioeconomic background, culture, and environment before offering any care.

Holistic care nurses create important relationships with their patients that promote wellness and healing. The holistic healing concept is that the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of a patient’s life are interconnected.

These are said to be the aspects that make up a person. A Holistic Nurse provides individualized care to each patient and offers each patient individualized attention they need.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Holistic Nurse?

A holistic nurse has the same responsibilities as a regular nurse. However, they also focus on making the patient feel more comfortable, relaxed as part of their caregiving.

Holistic nurses are expected to form a deep connection with the patient by learning their name, showing compassion, maintaining eye contact, and using imagery and relaxing techniques to help the patients deal with the pain rather than administer painkillers. 

Here are the basic roles of a holistic nurse:

  • Preserve the patient’s dignity
  • Use therapeutic touch
  • Smiling and laughing with their patients.
  • Asking about the well-being of the patient genuinely
  • Educate patients on the importance of self-care
  • See each patient as an individual.
  • Pay attention to all aspects of the patient.
  • Engage with the patient and members of the staff mindfully and respectfully
  • Assess the patients state through proper communication
  • Help the patient identify their stress factors.

How Does a Holistic Nurse Treat Patients?

Holistic Nurse uses alternative forms of treatment other than the traditional western medicine. Some of the holistic healing methods they use include:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Easter medicine
  • Hypnosis
  • Hydrotherapy and balneotherapy
  • Massage
  • Wellness coaching

What Are the Main Differences Between Holistic and Traditional Nursing?

Both holistic and traditional nurses are board-certified Nurse. However, holistic Nurse receives extra training geared toward techniques that help promote the patient’s spiritual, psychological and mental health. Holistic nursing training promotes a better way of living through means other than medicine, exercise, and nutrition. Holistic nurses advocate for a stress-free and calming environment, finding inner peace and working through emotional issues and setbacks.

There are a set of rules the nurses have to follow for traditional nursing when treating a patient. Some policies and procedures help guide the actions that they take. Traditional nurses offer medical treatment, comfort, advice, and kindness to the patients and nothing else. 

On the other hand, holistic nurses are free to use any treatment to see fit for their patients. They are not limited to the type of treatment they can use, from music therapy, different calming techniques, art and animal therapy, and a host of other techniques that help treat their patients.

The most common type of treatment for holistic nurses is body-based practices that include massage therapy, mind-body medicine such as yoga, biologically-based treatments, energy medicine such as magnetic therapy, and herbal therapy

Another distinction between traditional and holistic Nurse is the type of patients that they treat. Traditional Nurse takes care of all types of patients from different backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs, medical conditions, and social status. They treat older adults to infants and all types of illnesses. 

However, holistic Nurse treats patients with severe medical conditions. Some of these conditions include terminal patients, severe burn patients, cancer patients, and any other type of patient that needs long-term care.

These patients will be under the care of a holistic nurse long enough for the Nurse to be in a position to focus on the patient’s entire being and not just the medical aspect.

There is also a difference in where traditional and holistic Nurse is found. Traditional nurses are found in all types of healthcare institutions. On the other hand, holistic nurses are found in hospitals and healthcare facilities specializing in caring for a particular patient type. Holistic nurses also work in medical spas.

What Is the History of Holistic Nursing?

Holistic nursing has a long history. It began in early modern Europe, where it roots in a search for new ways of treating patients other than traditional medicine. Holistic nursing draws most of its inspiration from Florence Nightingale, who was among the first people to practice modern nursing as it is known today.

During the Crimean War, she worked as a nurse, helped advance the public health field, and contributed her medical knowledge in an era where fatal infections were common, and unsanitary hospital conditions were the norm.

She was the first to establish a secular nursing school in 1860 in the world at St. Thomas hospital in London. She believed that healing the whole patient was the most successful form of treatment. It is Nightingale’s vision that has inspired a whole generation’s view on holistic medicine.

In 1980 the American Holistic Nursing Association (AHNA) was formed to advocate for this special nursing practice. Today, holistic nursing has drawn inspiration from many holistic nurses while providing their expertise and services to many patients worldwide.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognized holistic nursing as an area of specialization in 2007. This meant that the field could be clearly defined and regulated.

Nursing students interested in becoming holistic nurses will often pursue a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. After which, they can then focus on taking the course on holistic medicine. Several mainstream schools have started offering holistic medicine programs. This means that holistic nurses can learn everything they need to learn from one school.

After that, they must be licensed to practice nursing by the American Holistic Nurse Certification Corporation (AHNCC).

What Are Some Typical Job Duties of a Holistic Nurse?

A holistic nurse takes care of the body’s well-being rather than just a disease, injury, or illness. Holistic Nurse caters to the patient’s spiritual health, mental health, and emotional state to make sure that they are in great spirits all around.

Here are some do the duties of a holistic nurse:

  • Help patients with stress management
  • Performing acupuncture
  • Performing aromatherapy
  • Give massages
  • Perform hypnosis, hydrotherapy, and balneotherapy
  • Administering traditional eastern healing practices
  • Wellness coaching

Where Do Holistic Registered Nurses Work?

Most holistic nurses practice in private practice establishments such as birth centers, and some work as private nurses in their patient’s homes.

Some holistic nurses are found in traditional hospital settings. Since there are many alternative methods for holistic healing, the Nurse does not require the same equipment that the traditional nurses use.

This helps them work in places that traditional registered nurses would not be authorized to work in.

What Is Holistic Healing?

Holistic medicine is a type of healing that considers the whole being, body, spirit, mind, and emotions to achieve optimal health and wellness. The holistic medicine philosophy states that a person can achieve great health by having proper balance in life.

Professionals who practice holistic medicine believe that a person is made of interdependent parts. If one part is not functioning properly, it will cause an imbalance in all other parts. This means that if one has an imbalance, either physical, emotional, or spiritual, with will harm their overall health.

Holistic practitioners use different forms of health care, such as therapies, to treat a patient. For example, suppose they get a patient with migraine headaches. In that case, they will not only administer pain medication for the headache like a normal doctor would, but they will also look at all the factors in the patient’s life that may be causing the headaches. It could be sleep habits, stress, personal problems, or other spiritual practices. 

The treatment will involve pain-relieving medication and recommendations of the lifestyle change to help keep the headaches away.

What Are the Principles of Holistic Healing?

Holistic healing is based on the belief that unconditional support and love are the best healers and that individuals are solely responsible for their well-being and health. Other principles of holistic healing include:

  • A patient is a person and not a disease.
  • Everyone has innate healing powers.
  • Healing takes a team to achieve
  • Healing involves fixing the cause of the condition and not just getting rid of the symptoms.

How to Become a Holistic Nurse

The following are steps to take to become a Registered Holistic Nurse.

Step I: Go to Nursing school

You will have to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and from an accredited institution. This is the first step to becoming a registered nurse. AND- prepared Nurse they have to complete a BSN degree before taking the next step.

Step II: Pass the NCLEX-RN

To become a Registered Nurse, you have to pass the NCLEX exam.

Step III: Gain Experience

Before, holistic nurses needed to have bedside experience before becoming holistic registered nurses. Today, however, holistic nursing does not require you to have traditional minimum bedside experience.

Step IV: Earn your certification

The American Holistic Nurses Credentials Corporation offers holistic Nursing certification. These include Holistic Nurse Baccalaureate Board Certification (HNB-BC), the Holistic Nurse Certification (HN-BC), Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse Board Certification (APHN-BC), and Advanced Holistic Nurse Board Certification (AHN-BC).

What Type of People Make the Best Holistic Nurses?

Holistic nurses have to be caring to put the well-being of a patient as a whole first. This includes their mind, body, and spirit. To become a holistic nurse, you have to see the world with a clear lens. You have to be a person who doesn’t have implicit biases and also capable of not bringing your issues to work.

A holistic nurse has to be empathetic and less reactive because your energy affects your patient’s well-being.

A holistic nurse has to be able to promote the comfort of the patients. This is done through guided imagery, biofeedback, massage therapy, when the patient is in pain, aromatherapy, and energy work.

Here are other characteristics that a holistic nurse should have:

  • Passionate: A holistic nurse should love what they do because it will determine the type of care they will give to them.
  • Responsible: A holistic nurse will be responsible for the overall well-being of the patient.
  • Spiritual reflection: Self-reflection will help holistic nurses connect more deeply with their spiritual patients.
  • Caring: As a holistic nurse, your number one job is to care for your patients. A person who is not caring cannot make a great holistic nurse.
  • Independent: As a holistic nurse, you will be expected to make independent decisions for your patient, unlike the traditional nurses. This means that you have to be able to make decisions and stand by them.
  • Great communication skills: Great communication skills will help you communicate better with other staff members and the patient.
  • Great listening skills:  Listening skills are important to enable you to pay attention to what the patient needs.
  • Detail Oriented: There is a lot that goes into taking care of a patient using holistic methods. A holistic nurse needs to know everything about every procedure they may want to take the patient through.

What Are the Continuing Education Requirements for Holistic Nurses?

For a holistic Nurse to renew their license, they will need to fill out an application form indicating the number of CEU hours and pay a nominal fee. Every state has a different requirement, and it is vital to check with the nursing board about the requirements before applying for a new license.

What Is the Importance of Holistic Health?

Today, people live much longer, but they also get chronic illnesses at a very high level. Part of this is because human beings are now exposed to high-stress levels, eating nutritionally depleted food nutrition due to processing, and are exposed to harmful chemicals found all through the air and water.

Many people living with chronic illnesses and undiagnosed symptoms are not benefiting much from modern Medicine. This is where holistic healing takes the course.

Holistic healing considers all the factors, both internal and external, which could potentially affect a person’s life and make sure all the aspects are in balance.

What Are the Aspects of Holistic Health?

 Holistic health looks beyond the physical body; it addresses physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual health. These aspects help a person live a fulfilling life because a person cannot live a happy and fulfilled life if one aspect is compromised.

Physical Aspect

Most people think about their physical health when they think about health as a whole. This is because the symptoms and signs of being unhealthy manifest in physical health. Physical health is also easy to measure and track instead of other symptoms that manifest in a non-physical state.

It is important to take care of your physical well-being in the following ways:

  • To achieve maximum rest and repair of the body, make sure that you sleep 8 hours every night.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is high in plant-based foods and organic products.
  • Maintain your blood sugar levels by eating meals with fats and carbohydrates, and proteins every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Exercise. Make sure that you move your body at least 30 minutes every day. Everybody’s exercise routine is not the same, but your body will benefit from 30 minutes’ movement every day.
  • Reduce the number of hydrogenated oils and processes the food you take since they may cause high inflammation and increase the risk of getting a chronic illness
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and do not smoke

Emotional Aspect

Emotional health is often overlooked, but it is as important as physical health.

Here are ways in which you can support your emotional health.

  • Seek therapy when you feel like you need any. Therapy should be an important part of emotional health and should be utilized when necessary.
  • Have mindful practices that help reduce stress and practice mindfulness to help in dealing with daily life stressors.
  • Have a journal that you can record your thoughts and feelings. Record what you are grateful for, and this will help you bring some positivity to your life when you feel overwhelmed with stress.

The Social Aspect

According to research, people are happier when they have deep connections with family and friends.

Here are some of how you can support your social health:

  • Make sure you have time for a personal connection. This means that you will have to keep away from your phone for a while.
  • Be part of your local community. This can either be through religious organizations, programs, and clubs and volunteer in your local community because this is one of the best ways to improve your social health.
  • Make sure that you set boundaries with the people you have in your life. You will have to step away from some relationships and friendships that weigh you down in some cases.

Spiritual Aspect

This does not mean that you have to be religious. Spiritual health focuses on how you connect with your inner souls and with the external world around you.

Here are ways in which you can improve your spiritual health.

  • Make sure that you spend time in nature
  • Spend part of your day meditating
  • Spend time practicing your faith if you are religious

Mental Aspect

Mental health will, in most cases, overlap with physical health and emotional health. There is, however, a big difference between emotional and mental health. Emotional health is referred to as our daily mood and emotions, while mental health is the cognitive abilities that affect how the brain functions.

It is important to keep your mental health in check because it affects how your entire body functions.

Here are ways in which you can support your mental health:

  • Keep your mind active by actively seeking to learn something new every time and perform problem-solving activities that challenge the brain.
  • Consume foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce overall inflammation and help support cognitive function
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, and consuming recreational drugs.
  • Improve your gut health by consuming foods like bone broth and prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods.

How Did Holistic Healing Begin?

Holistic healing was the main principle of all ancient healthcare. There are three notable ancient traditional based medicines, they include:

  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine
  2. Ayurveda
  3. Western herbalism or traditional European Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Holistic Health

Chinese Medicine has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Chinese Medicine has evolved over the years into a system of complex diagnostic and treatments. Most of these treatments are still practiced today.

Chinese medicine views the whole body as an interconnected web that functions for one good. These systems interact according to subtle energies and physical elements. The Chinese medicine principle balances energies such as “qi,” which is the life force, and “shen,” which is the spirit of maintaining the overall health of a being,

Ayurvedic Medicine and Holistic Healing

Ayurveda is a traditional medical practice that is found among Indians. Ayurveda dates to the 6th century B.C text written by Sushruta, known as the father of surgery.

The Ayurveda holistic healing is founded on the beliefs that there are seven elements to the body, five elements to the universe, and their biological energies.

Ayurvedic healing Medicine has similar concepts when compared to Chinese Medicine. They both stress the interconnectedness and the balance of both internal and external factors to enhance overall wellness.

Ayurvedic Medicine is divided into a system of eight treatments that are known as branches. 

The eight branches are as follows.

  1. Kayachikitsa, which is Internal Medicine
  2. Shalya Tantra, which is Surgery
  3. Shalakya tantra is the treatment of the eyes
  4. Kaumarabhritya, which is Gynecology and Pediatrics
  5. Agada tantra, which is Toxicology
  6. Bhuta Vidya, which is Psychiatry
  7. Rasayana, which is Rejuvenation and anti-aging
  8. Vajikarana is Reproductive and enhancing sexual power

Holistic healers who practice Ayurvedic healing help their patients through all eight branches to help them live a well-balanced life.

Traditional European Medicine for Holistic Health

Herbal Medicine is another of the oldest forms of healthcare among human beings. Every culture and ethnic group has evolved with their environment. Most of their healing practices relied on the natural plants that were part of their environment.

Herbal Medicine is an important part of traditional medicine practices in Europe. Using the medicinal properties of herbs has a long history. Herbal Medicine is also the center of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese Medicine.

Herbal Medicine was pioneered in Germany by Hildegard of Bingen. Her work was quite instrumental in advancing monastic Medicine and holistic herbal healing in her work physica.

What Is Alternative Medicine?

Alternative Medicine is a part of holistic healing that focuses on the natural part of healing and health. These processes are known as alternatives mainly because of two main reasons:

  • They are not widely accepted as being safe, effective, and proven according to modern medical standards.
  • These techniques are often performed in place of conventional treatments.

Alternative Medicine is drawn from all the ancient healing doctrines, i.e., traditional Chinese Medicine, traditional Western Medicine, and Ayurvedic holistic Medicine.

Alternative Medicine can be divided into natural products, mind and body, and other alternative practices.

Natural Products for Holistic Health

Natural products are any product that is found in nature. Examples of these include fennel and ginseng. Natural products include Dietary supplements and Herbs, and botanicals.

Mind and body techniques for holistic health

Body techniques for holistic healing include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Aromatherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Biofeedback
  • Reflexology
  • Yoga, Tai chi, Qi Gong
  • Reiki
  • Meditation
  • Progressive Relaxation
  • Guided Imagery
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Coldwater therapy
  • Rolfing Structural Integration
  • Osteopathic manipulation

What Is Complementary Medicine?

Complimentary Medicine is a part of holistic healing that is accepted by conventional medicine. This includes some alternative practices that practitioners in the medical field believe may provide relief to their patients.

An example of complementary medicine is an herbal supplement that a doctor would give their patient to increase their appetite or reduce nausea. Massage is also a great addition to physical therapy, and acupuncture has been added to modern fertility treatment.

Holistic nurses are expected to have a vast knowledge of the different holistic healing methods to offer their patients the best treatment type. Every method of holistic healing is different, but they all have the same purpose. To ensure that the patient’s mind, body, and soul are healed. It is important to note that some holistic treatments require the holistic nurse to get separate training and certification.

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