What is a Holistic Nurse?

Nursing is a highly diverse field, with many specializations, but the duties of a holistic nurse many be among the most enriching for some. While it is a specific designation, with its own special courses of study, this type of nursing regards the healing of the whole person as its primary mission. In the article below, we’ll explore this field specialization in greater detail, focusing on the duties of these nurses and the special features that make their role in the health care community unique.

Healing and Diverse Perspectives

The holism that these nurses bring to the healing process can incorporate diverse theories and practices as a routine part of their care regimens. Because a holistic nurse takes as his or her mission to heal the entire patient, irrespective of cultural background or health condition, they are often called upon to draw from many resources, according to the American Holistic Nurses Association. One of the major guiding tenets of this specialization is the understanding of the complexities of human life. Each individual brings a cosmos of complex relationships between mind, body, emotional/spiritual, and sociocultural concepts to the care dynamic.

While many types of health care professionals adhere to a more rigidly defined relationship with patients, bringing a clinical flavor to their interactions, nurses of this type consider the healing process as a malleable exchange. As opposed to the traditional subject-object interaction that is common in Western medicine, today, holistic nursing professionals view patients as partners in the healing process. Such a perspective requires these nurses to be sensitive to the changing needs of each individual, as well as paying close attention to the foundational cultural beliefs each patient may have about healing.

Clinical Knowledge

However, while each patient-nurse interaction incorporates elements of anthropological practice and theory, it should not be assumed that this specialization is any less rigorous. Holistic nursing professionals also possess essential and broadly applicable medical training that is necessary to successfully treat patients in need of physical and mental healing. In many ways, this specialization is more rigorous than many subfields that focus on a specific aspect of the healing process, because these professionals must often incorporate complimentary alternative modalities into the act of healing a patient.

These complimentary modalities, while they render treatment in less tangible or clinical ways, are not intended to negate the application of Western clinical practices. They are supportive or complimentary, because they work together with therapies that treat the physical body or the psychological aspects of a patient.

Within the sphere of the health care process, each patient is encouraged to discuss their treatment, express feelings about medical issues or the process itself, and share health knowledge or beliefs relevant to their cultural and ethnic background. There is need for holistic nursing professionals who communicate and interact on an individual or personalized basis, especially with marginalized or vulnerable culture groups or in situations where immigration has exposed a community to an unusual or traumatic cultural environment.

Related Resource: Nurse Educator

Even in regard to the treatment of patients who have been raised within the realm of Western medical practice, and are accustomed to the lack of personalized or relevant health care, these nursing professionals perform a vital function. Holistic nurses empower patients to take an equal role in their own healing process, utilizing a flexible awareness of the strong links between psychological, physical, emotional, and cultural health care factors.