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What is Holistic Nursing?

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As increased specialization occurs in health care, patients see various health care practitioners for various issues. Accordingly, patients are sometimes perceived as a number of parts, without much attention paid to the whole person.

Human beings are, of course, much more than the sum of our parts. Moreover, patients are far more than the particular diagnosis given to them.

Holistic nursing is a specialty practice that focuses upon healing the whole person using nursing knowledge, theories, expertise and intuition. The goal is for nurses to form a therapeutic partnership with patients in their care.

Holistic nursing recognizes the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotion, spirit and environment, focusing upon the totality of the human being.

Holistic nurses strive to be instruments of healing and facilitators of the healing process by honoring each patient’s past health experiences, health beliefs and values. Holistic nurses often integrate alternative modalities into their clinical practice in an effort to address patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Holistic nurses emphasize that the integration of alternative medicine in no way negates the validity of conventional medicine therapies. Rather, the goal is to augment treatment and help patients achieve maximum healing.

Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, is thought by many to be one of the first holistic nurses. Nightingale believed that health care should be focused on unity, wellness and the relationship between human beings and their environment.

This philosophy of caring for the total human being is at the crux of holistic nursing. Nurses who embrace holistic concepts may work in acute care settings, while others may work in private practice.

Holistic nurses integrate alternative modalities into their plan of care, understanding that the healing process is best achieved by honoring the patient's values, voice and beliefs about health and healing.

Holistic nurses encourage self-care, personal responsibility, spirituality and self-reflection in the lives of their patients. The goal is to enhance the nurses’ understanding of all individuals and their relationships to the human and global community, ideally permitting them to use this awareness to facilitate the healing process.

Holistic nursing is not necessarily something that you do. It is an attitude, a philosophy and a way of being.


What is Holistic Nursing? Web. www.ahna.org. Accessed 29 Jan. 2012. http://www.ahna.org/AboutUs/WhatisHolisticNursing/tabid/1165/Default.aspx

What is Holistic Nursing? Web. www.nursetogether.com. Accessed 29 Jan. 2012. http://www.nursetogether.com/Career/Career-Article/itemid/1818.aspx

Reviewed January 30, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jessica Obert

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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