With the popularity of alternative therapies and medicine growing, more and more nurses are taking a holistic approach. The American Nurses Association gave holistic nursing specialty status recognition in 2006. A growing specialization, holistic nursing involves the idea that in order to treat a patient's medical condition, you must also consider their physical, mental, emotional, and social conditions. It operates on the belief that it is only after all areas of a patient's life are in balance that they are able to reach an optimum level of health. A holistic nurse combines nursing knowledge and theories to treat the physical, mental, and spiritual areas of a patient's life. Along with traditional medical treatments, holistic nurses integrate alternative therapies, such care as acupuncture, massage, aroma therapy, and biofeedback into their clinical practice.
The American Holistic Nurses’ Certification Corporation now endorses holistic nursing programs at 13 schools. AHNCC is the only national credentialing corporation that offers holistic nurse certification, which can be earned by anyone who has an unrestricted U.S. RN license and at least a Baccalaureate degree in any field. Certification requires that one completes 48 contact hours in holistic nursing theory, practice, research or ethics, within the last two years, as well as spends a year practicing full time in holistic nursing or at least 2000 hours in the last five years. One must then pass both a quantitative examination, which assesses one's knowledge and skills essential to the practice of holistic nursing, and a qualitative assessment, which assesses one's ability to integrate holistic nursing concepts into their professional and personal lives. Additional certifications specializing in areas such as integrative healing arts, holistic stress management, healing touch, and whole health education, can also be earned.
Holistic nurses have a unique relationship with their patients and try to teach them holism by first exemplifying it in their own lives. This means they must first achieve mental, physical, and spiritual balance in their own lives in order to be able to treat a patient to the best of their ability. They are interested in bonding with their patients on a deeper level and believe in making in creating a more personal and supportive environment to treat their patients in. Although the majority of holistic nurses work in hospitals, they can practice anywhere they have a nurse-client relation. Many of them own their own private practices as well as work in community health and wellness and fitness programs.