Holistic Nursing Specialty Status 

In December of 2006, Holistic Nursing was officially recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA) as a nursing specialty with a defined scope and standards of practice, acknowledging holistic nursing’s unique contribution to the health and healing of people and society.

Standing behind this great achievement is the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). AHNA submitted a 76-page document to the ANA that clearly describes holistic nursing as a focused area of nursing practice.  Read the ANA Press Release.

Why is specialty status important?

ANA Specialty Status recognizes that holistic nursing has its own scope and defined set of standards that distinguishes it from other nursing practices.  Specialty status provides holistic nurses with clarity and a foundation for their practice, and strengthens the voice of the entire profession.  It provides us with a clear description of who we are, and helps us identify our practice: specialty status helps us better articulate who we are to nurses, other health care professionals and the public.

Qualifying for Specialty Status

Holistic Nursing is a specialty that is based upon:

  • A body of knowledge
  • Evidence-based research
  • Sophisticated skills
  • Defined standards of practice
  • A diversity of modalities from a broad range of health practices
  • A philosophy of living and being that is grounded in caring, relationship, and interconnectedness

ANA required the completion of a document explaining why holistic nursing should be granted specialty status, the development of a scope of practice statement indicating the “who, what, when, where and why” of holistic nursing, and the articulation of a defined set of standards depicting the details and complexity of the practice.  

Specialty Status: The Future  

Each specialty nursing scope statement and standards of practice can deeply influence nursing practice in each specialty. These standards:

  • Provide schools and universities with a template for curricula and influence the development of continuing education programs 
  • Validate research and attract research funds 
  • Provide for recognition by state boards of nursing 
  • Describe the knowledge, skills, and abilities that hospitals and other health care agencies can expect from the nurses they hire  
  • Help the professional practice regulate itself 

Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of PracticeSecond Edition (2012), co-published with ANA, defines what holistic nursing is, what holistic nurses do, and the responsibilities for which holistic nurses are accountable. These guidelines are consistent with the definition, values, assumptions and standards of nursing as outlined by the Nursing’s Social Policy Statement, Second Edition (ANA, 2003) and Nursing: Standards of Practice (ANA, 2005).  

Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of PracticeSecond Edition (2012) is an essential resource for nurses and others in related healthcare work, including care providers, educators, researchers and administrators, and those involved in funding, legal, policy and regulatory activities. The book is available for purchase through the AHNA online store.

For more information, visit:

Holistic Nursing Fact Sheet
Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice book



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