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Holistic Nursing: Its Origins and Its Future


At Ameritech, nursing students develop a keen understanding of how holistic approaches can help them give the best care possible.

At Ameritech, our nursing students develop a keen understanding of how holistic approaches can help them give the best care possible. In a recent interview with Kathy Holloway, DNP, RN, PC, CNE, AHN-BC, the healthcare thought leader stressed the importance of mental health considerations as part of every nurse’s holistic assessment of their patients:

“We focus so much on the mind, body, and spirit. That includes emotions, the social construct, and sometimes the physical symptoms, if they are present.”

We’re proud of our educators’ efforts to continue the advancement of holistic nursing practices. What’s more, their efforts — for the good of our students, our school, and the profession — were recently recognized by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation. Ameritech is thrilled to be one of only 13 bachelor’s programs endorsed by AHNCC.

What does holistic nursing mean to us?

Holistic nursing 101

Many people hear the term “holistic” and think of alternative medical frameworks or traditional Eastern medicine models. And while holistic nursing does draw from diverse frameworks, it is a nursing specialty that’s just as at home in everyday Western healthcare settings alongside state of the art equipment and the latest advancements in medical science.

When it comes to understanding what the term means, the simplest definition is that holistic nursing takes place when a nurse takes the patient’s whole being into account: their physiology, mental health, spiritual beliefs, and social environment. Rather than treating problems as if they exist independently, holistic nursing means looking at the big picture for overarching patterns, stressors, habits, and more that can impact a person’s health.

Related Resource: What is Holistic Nursing?

Holistic nursing history

How did holistic nursing come to be, and where did it get its start? The American Holistic Nurses Association was founded in 1980, but the ideas behind this specialty have been around much longer than that. Florence Nightingale is cited as being the founder of the specialty based on her turn-of-the-century practices that revolutionized nursing as we know it today.

Following in Nightingale’s footsteps, holistic nurses have stressed the importance of becoming a role model of wellness for their patients. This doesn’t mean being free of medical issues, but rather has to do with one’s attitude toward healthy living. Medicine focuses on the precise details of the body’s ailments and their treatments, but holistic nursing brings the identities of the nurse and patient as people into the picture as well.

Nurses with this specialty cultivate wholesome self-care routines and a contagious positive attitude as part of their professional skillset, knowing that humans are interconnected social creatures at the end of the day and that their patients will benefit from this modeling.

Related Resource: 6 Ways to Approach Problems Holistically

The future of holistic nursing

As the nursing profession becomes more nuanced and informed over the years, the specialty of holistic nursing is gaining greater attention. The delivery of healthcare now takes patients’ lifestyles and mental well-being into account, and the foundational tenets of holistic nursing are making their way into the mainstream. Treatments like acupuncture and massage becoming available on a greater number of health insurance plans is one example of this.

As patient-centered care becomes more in demand, so does the demand for skilled nurses who can approach their work holistically. Holistic nurses work in hospitals and clinics, but they also make themselves available to patients through private offices or even in-home visits. The job outlook for holistic nursing is very positive, just like it is for all aspiring nurses at this time. Holistic nursing jobs are expected to grow by 19 percent by the year 2022. Because of this increase in demand, the future of holistic nursing is looking bright.

Related Resource: The Future of Nursing Report: The Progress We’ve Made, and the Work We Still Need to Do

Holistic nursing and Ameritech

Ameritech agrees that a well-rounded nursing education involves learning to focus on the patient as a whole person. That’s why our curriculums incorporate insights from the American Holistic Nurses Association. After completing our fully-online RN-BSN program or accredited nursing program, students will have a firm grasp of how they can bring the principles of holistic nursing into their careers — whether they go on to specialize as holistic nurses or branch out into any other nursing specialties such as geriatric nursing.

By becoming familiar with the holistic nursing model, Ameritech students learn how to give more effective healthcare to their patients, practice crucial self-care during the course of their careers, stay abreast of exciting new developments in their field, and find great fulfillment in nursing life.

Related Resource: 8 Benefits of a Holistic Nursing Education

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