What is Holistic Nursing?

Florence Nightingale, who believed in care that focused on unity, wellness, and the interrelationship of human beings and their environment, is considered to be one of the first holistic nurses.

Holistic nursing is defined as “all nursing practice that has healing the whole person as its goal” (American Holistic Nurses’ Association, 1998, Description of Holistic Nursing). Holistic nursing is a specialty practice that draws on nursing knowledge, theories, expertise and intuition to guide nurses in becoming therapeutic partners with people in their care. This practice recognizes the totality of the human being - the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotion, spirit, social/cultural, relationship, context, and environment.  

The holistic nurse is an instrument of healing and a facilitator in the healing process. Holistic nurses honor each individual's subjective experience about health, health beliefs, and values.

Holistic nurses may integrate complementary/alternative modalities (CAM) into clinical practice to treat people’s physiological, psychological, and spiritual needs. Doing so does not negate the validity of conventional medical therapies, but serves to complement, broaden, and enrich the scope of nursing practice and to help individuals access their greatest healing potential. 

The practice of holistic nursing requires nurses to integrate self-care, self-responsibility, spirituality, and reflection in their lives. This may lead the nurse to greater awareness of the interconnectedness with self, others, nature, and spirit. This awareness may further enhance the nurses understanding of all individuals and their relationships to the human and global community, and permits nurses to use this awareness to facilitate the healing process.

Holistic nursing is not necessarily something that you do: it is an attitude, a philosophy, and a way of being.

For more information: 

Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice
What Is CAM?
Holistic Modalities
AHNA Specialty Status
Holistic Nursing: A Way of Being, a Way of Living, a Way of Practice!
     
Article by Lucia Thornton RN, MSN, AHN-BC

 

 
 


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