Holistic or integrative nursing is an approach to healthcare that focuses on healing the mind, body, and spirit. Rather than merely treating illnesses, integrative nursing improves the overall well-being of an individual. It helps to promote the transition of the healthcare system from being cure-based to prevention-based.
Western or mainstream medicine treats diseases using drugs, radiation, and surgery. But integrative nursing combines both conventional and alternative practices. Some holistic care therapies may include Chinese and Eastern healing practices, aromatherapy, acupuncture, massage, wellness coaching, etc.
What is integrative healthcare?
Integrative healthcare provides whole-person care by addressing a patient’s physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs. This form of healthcare seeks to improve patient outcomes through a combination of alternative care, alternative care, eastern medicine, western medicine, and other complementary medicine.
The Institute for Integrative Health describes integrative health as “a state of well-being in the mind, body, and spirit that reflects the individual, community, and population.” It’s a value-based approach to healthcare with a few principles that emphasize the importance of nature’s healing and restorative properties.
The integrative approach to healthcare could be nutritional, physical, or psychological. Some of these therapies include herbs and spices, dietary supplements, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, dance or art therapies, etc. About a third of Americans admit to using alternative medicine together with conventional medicine.
What do integrative nursing practitioners do?
An integrative nurse is a registered nurse who has the license to use alternative therapies and western medicine during their practice. They often assist physicians and provide the type of care that focuses on the mind, body, and spirit.
Just like other RNs, integrative nurses perform some typical duties such as: assessing each patient’s unique needs, working with medical professionals and other nurses, and helping out with the coordination of patient schedules.
However, their main responsibilities as holistic nurses often include: performing acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation therapy, wellness coaching, etc. They also assist patients with stress management and administer traditional Chinese and Eastern healing practices.
How does someone specialize in integrative nursing?
The first step to becoming an integrative nurse is to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing.
Then, you must pass the NCLEX examination to become a registered nurse. Next, you have to further your education by taking a course/program in holistic nursing.
There are some courses designed for nurses who wish to specialize in integrative medicine. They teach the knowledge and skills necessary for providing alternative forms of care. They also show how to practice a patient-centered, relationship-based approach to nursing.
A doctor of nursing practice degree is another useful degree for integrative nurses. It allows you to advance into leadership roles in healthcare. A DNP degree can help to ensure job security as a nurse and allow you to open your own independent practice in some states.
What practical experience does a DNP require?
After attending nursing school and becoming a registered nurse, you need to have a few years of bedside experience at a clinic or hospital. This helps to understand how to perform the basic duties of a nurse as well as understand how traditional or western medicine works.
After completing an integrative/holistic nursing program, you would have to work as an holistic nurse for at least one year before getting certified. Any internship or part-time role in an hospital or holistic health center would help you achieve some practical experience in the field.
What is required for certification and licensing?
Integrative nurses need to have a registered nurse (RN) license in order to practice. They can also get certified to validate competence and expertise in the holistic nursing specialty. This helps to enhance credibility with patients, employers and others in the field.
The American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC) is responsible for the certification of holistic nurses. Depending on their academic qualifications and experience, registered nurses may qualify for the HN-BC, HNB-BC, AHN-BC, or APHN-BC certifications.
Where can integrative nurses work?
Integrative nurses can be employed in birthing or childcare centers, integrative medicine clinics, cancer treatment centers, remote settings, etc. Since they don’t utilize the same equipment as traditional nurses, holistic nurses can provide alternative or integrative care in other facilities.
The job outlook for holistic nurses is almost the same with other RNs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for nurses to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. Just like other RNs, holistic nurses can also expect to earn an average annual salary of $75,330.