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​ What is a Holistic Nurse and how are they different from other nurses? 


The first question asked when hearing "Holistic Nurse" for the first time is consistently this. The answer is two-fold:


A holistic nurse is a legally licensed nurse who takes a holistic (mind-body-spirit-emotion) approach to the practice of traditional nursing. Holistic nursing is based on a body of knowledge, evidence-based research, sophisticated skill sets, defined standards of practice, and a philosophy of living and being that is grounded in caring, relationship, and interconnectedness. While Holistic nursing practice is not dependent on using any specific modalities, often these tools have fewer adverse effects and little or zero interactions with other medical treatments so they are easily incorporated into Nursing care. What is most important to a holistic practice is that it draws on knowledge, theories, expertise, and intuition to guide nurses in becoming therapeutic partners with clients in a mutually evolving process toward healing and holism.

 How do I find a Holistic Practitioner?   

This is the number one question AHNA receives from the public. 
Many AHNA members have chosen to be listed in our Practitioner Directory. We also have members that volunteer to be Chapter Leaders for their local communities, to find a Chapter near you, search our local Chapter Directory  We also suggest calling your local hospital, clinic or physician’s office and asking if they employ holistic nurses.

How to Develop Your Holistic Practice


Start here by reading our member benefits!  

Wondering how to begin your journey in Holistic Nursing?

Some of these tips are for everyone and some are for AHNA members only-- if you are unable to access the content but you very much want to-- please considering joining AHNA for valuable support and resources.  





1. Meet and talk with other nurses who are interested in holistic, complementary and integrative nursing approaches. Find or start an  AHNA chapter near you. Contact the chapter leader and attend social and educational events.   

2. Purchase your copy of Holistic Nursing Scope & Standards of Practice


3. Participate in Holistic Nurse Networking Calls

4. Take the Home Study Foundations of Holistic Nursing (FOHN) Course

5. Attend Integrative Healing Arts Program (IHAP) Frequently Asked Questions

6. Study our endorsed holistic nursing programs: 

7. Attend Annual Conference:

8. Become certified as a holistic nurse or nurse coach: 


Practice Tips from Holistic Nurses


Wise words from AHNA Chapter Members




Sometimes smile when you want to frown. It will relieve facial tension and make you feel better. That one simple smile has the power to calm fear, insecurity, hurt, and anxiety. ~ Anna Dermanchyan


When you leave work and get into your vehicle, stop and take several slow easy breaths, letting go of your day of work. Rub your hands together creating warmth, then place over your closed eyes. Continue to breathe several slow easy breaths. Slowly bring your hand down your face so your fingertips are the last to leave your eyes. Slowly open your eyes to a fresh, new perspective as you prepare to drive home. ~ Carole Ann Drick


As you stay present and actively listen you can reduce the person's sense of isolation. ~ Jalma Marcus


A  peaceful and caring environment is very important for the sick patient and their family. Keep the room clean and remove the extra machines, IV polls and pumps to give everyone in the room more breathing space. ~ Anna Dermanchyan


Sleepy feet. Mix a few drops of lavender and about a teaspoon of carrier such as coconut, castor or grape seed oil. Gently massage the oil mixture into the soles of feet. The socks keep your feet toasty and the scented lavender oil massage helps you relax and fall asleep. ~ Dana Hannah, DNP FNP


Bed bound patients love backrubs! They both relax and comfort the patient while giving a message of care and a gift of both time and touch. ~ Carole Ann Drick, RN


Everything we say and do has an effect on others. Be conscious of your verbal and non verbal behaviors. ~ Jalma Marcus


Breathe, breathe, and breathe! This cannot be repeated too often. When in doubt as to what to do next, when in doubt of what to say, breathe. It clears the mind and brings an alert awareness. 


Close the gap between yourself and the other person by listening from a place of deep Stillness. Hear the meaning behind the words and allow your response to rise from the Stillness within. Observe the difference. 

Take a refreshing 30-second break. Close your eyes, take a long, slow, deep breath in, taking in more air even when you feel full. Then gently and slowly blow the air out through pursed lips - like blowing up a balloon. Repeat a second time. Feel your whole body come alive with the extra oxygen.


The most consistent holistic component of my nursing practice is presence as described by Jean Watson. No matter how stressed out I am (and my unit can be very stressful), I try to pause and ground with a breath prior to entering a patient room. This helps my ability to give each patient my full attention with eye contact and not make them feel rushed. Watch for the payoff; it is amazing. ~ Marci Resnicoff RN


Practice self care then translate that to bedside and staff side. Live as you teach others to live! ~ Andi Williams


To be authentic when teaching, walk your talk. People can intuitively feel when you are telling them to do something you don't practice yourself.


I use the hand sanitizer dispensers outside patients’ rooms to "sanitize" as well as ground and center myself.  I enter the room after the gel is completely absorbed. As I gently rub the gel into my hands, I remind myself that my "being with" another carries a silent power which permits me to bear witness to a passage, to ease an emotional burden or to begin a healing process regardless of outcome. ~ Maura McDonald, RN

"Center before you Enter!" Before taking energy into a patients space of healing, consider the energy you are carrying to them. 


Holism starts with self care and our self in balance then we can bring this balance into our practice. What self care activities did you do today? Every day? 


When pain management medications for a stressed out patient aren't working, I gently place one hand on the patient's head, the other on his/her upper chest area and ask the patient to close his/her eyes and slowly and deeply breathe with me as I lead him/her through a guided meditation. Patients are usually asleep within 5 minutes. ~ Marci Resnicoff RN


Feeling overwhelmed? Time is an illusion. Move into the timeless present moment through focusing on your breath and feel your alert awareness and clarity return. You cannot overdose on focused breathing!


Get an extra hour of sleep on a regular basis. You function better and have more energy!


Since we are getting more computerized at work with our charting now, one of my most frequently used passwords is partly a nickname for a family pet who is a heart-centered bundle of love. Just typing his nickname fills me with a calming sense of open-heartedness. (Eva Selhub, MD wrote a book called "The Love Response" which gave me the idea). ~ Marci Resnicoff RN


Trust your intuition when you feel to linger with the other person. Often a simple, “What else?” with a gentle pause and smile is enough to give permission for the next layer to be revealed to you.


Before starting your car to drive to work, STOP, take a few easy deep breaths. Feel the deep sense of Stillness rise up in your body. Start the car and drive to work in this place of alert awareness. 

Be person-centered rather than task-centered. ~ Andi Williams


Do an “intentional” assessment rather than collect physiological data. Assess the patient and still focus healing intention, touch and caring while gathering information at the same time. ~ Andi Williams 


Greet each patient by name, touch their arm/shoulder, make eye contact and smile. Thirty seconds of connecting with respect and listening sends a message of caring, peace and healing which results in an innate relaxation response in the patient.


Lot’s to do? Call lights on? Admissions? Discharge? Physical assessments? Treatments? Meds? As you are moving between patients’ rooms, pay attention to your feet! Be aware of each foot as the weight changes from the left to the right foot with each step. You arrive in the same amount of time and in the present moment – clear and ready to give full attention to this patient.


Before you answer a patient’s question, stop, take a breath then speak from an open heart. This allows your response to be filled with compassion rather than from the mind’s attitudes and opinions.


Have your water bottle at the nurses’ station and take sips often. Even better, sip green tea, a natural antioxidant. Hydration is one key to being clear, energetic and working effortlessly.