Holistic Nursing Education…Supporting Nurses in Knowing and Growing!
By Deb Shields PhD, RN, CCRN, QTTT, AHN-BC  

The members of the AHNA Education Provider Committee (EPC) extend warm greetings to each of you! As we gaze upon the beautifully still landscape, we feel the rhythms of the earth’s transformation into the spring of the year—knowing that within this movement, there will be change and new lessons presented. Such is the way of education, and we thought it a perfect time to share with you some reflections on the ways that AHNA’s Educational Team works to support you in knowing and growing as a holistic nurse. In addition, we hope to answer the following question: “Why should I earn my contact hours through AHNA?”  

Nursing education has undergone many changes since Florence Nightingale introduced a holistic, patient-centered model of education in the late 1800s. Contemporary programs are increasingly weaving the art and science of nursing into frameworks that support people in their experience(s) and that are grounded in caring and healing. This movement, however, is situated in a world that is highly technological, fast-paced and complex. Nurses must be prepared to provide care in diverse practice settings—and care must enfold both being and doing therapies. How do we, as holistic nurses, keep up? How do we live the AHNA Core Values and ensure that the care we offer is delivered according to the Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (2007)?  Participation in focused educational opportunities is one of the ways, and AHNA stands ready to support nurses in accomplishing this.   

Holistic nursing education is a lifelong journey, beginning in basic academic preparation and continuing with ongoing continuing education and professional development activities.  AHNA is committed to providing members with high caliber continuing education activities that focus on identifying practice problems and solutions in an environment that is collaborative and based in a holistic world view. This approach to teaching/learning is aligned with the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations that professional development be focused on the creation of environments designed to meet health professionals’ personal knowledge gaps, with a goal of improving patient outcomes (Hanley, Hines, Koithan et. al., 2010; IOM, 2010).

An accredited provider and approver of continuing nursing education (CNE) by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, AHNA fosters the development of and the access to quality, holistic continuing nursing education.  Educational offerings are delivered in a variety of formats in order to meet your individual needs and preferences. There are:

  • text-based formats through the Journal of Holistic Nursing, Beginnings and the Foundations of Holistic Nursing home study course,
  • face-to-face interactive venues during annual conferences and workshops,
  • teleconferences 
  • and online activities at the AHNA website

The AHNA is always looking for new and creative ways to meet the educational needs of its members. In 2011 the AHNA EPC, in collaboration with the Research Committee, began sponsoring quarterly teleconferences. This initiative, led by Sue Robertson, Deb Shields, and Angela Krupica, was well received by the membership and approximately 30 participants joined each call. By November, this series was transformed into a webinar and participation doubled.  We will continue this format in 2012 (watch for announcements about the next scheduled webinar which will be May 30).  Additionally, the Practice Committee will join Education and Research and sponsor a fall webinar. All of the webinars are recorded so that home-study versions, with contact hours, are available to those who are unable to participate live. Webinars include handouts and the opportunity to dialogue with the presenters both during the event and electronically after it is completed. The webinar series is new, innovative and very exciting, and we are thrilled to offer it to you.

In January 2012, as another new way of making CNE opportunities easily available, a team of volunteers formed a new EPC sub-committee and inaugurated the CNE series in Beginnings—your member magazine. The team is now reading manuscripts and developing test questions based on the content. With just a click of the mouse, you will have access to yet another way of earning 0.5 – 1.0 contact hours

All of these educational activities are valuable – and all require a great deal of AHNA resources and staff time, as well as the commitment of the volunteer teams. There are real costs associated with making these opportunities widely available, and AHNA charges a small amount for each contact hour. We realize that there are many ways that you can earn CNE contact hours and that these are often free. We know, as well, that you appreciate that every educational offering from AHNA is rooted in holism. 

Just as winter moves into spring, transformation in education will continue in the healthcare world and within AHNA. What will never change, however, is our commitment to you and to holding the vision of holistic nursing practice. As Becky Lara, AHNA Communications Director, so elegantly stated “… when a nurse makes the conscious decision to do his/ her contact hours through AHNA, he/ she is also making a definite statement that “I am a holistic nurse – I support the concepts and standards of holistic nursing and choose to learn and practice based on this philosophy... This is a simple, yet very powerful way to create conscious change and move the profession of holistic nursing forward.”


American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) & American Nurses Association (ANA). (2007). Holistic nursing: Scope and standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD: Nursebooks.org.  

Hanley, M.A., Hines, M. & Koithan, M. with Sierpina, V. & Kreitzer, M. J. (2010). AHNA:  Providing transformative innovations in holistic nursing praxis. EXPLORE, 6(4), 271 – 274.

Institute of Medicine (2010). Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences. Available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12704.html


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