What is holistic nursing?

What is holistic nursing?

The healthcare sector has undergone significant transformation due to factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the nursing shortage in the United States, and the increasing demand for health services. Holistic nursing has emerged as an effective response to these challenges, focusing on prevention rather than just treatment. Marymount University’s online Master of Science in Nursing for Family Nurse Practitioner programs educate students about the principles of holistic nursing practice to enhance the quality of life and health outcomes. So, what exactly is holistic nursing?

Holistic nursing refers to an approach in medicine that considers the patient as a whole, taking into account their physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. It goes beyond treating symptoms and aims to improve all aspects of a patient’s quality of life. This article explores the concept of holistic nursing and its significance in healthcare.

Standards of Holistic Nursing Practice

While Western medicine primarily focuses on pharmaceuticals, radiation therapy, and surgery, holistic nursing incorporates additional therapies to complement conventional treatments. Some common holistic care techniques include osteopathy, stress management, homeopathy, massage therapy, hypnosis, water therapy, and treatments inspired by Eastern medicine. Registered Nurses recommend these techniques as part of holistic care.

The Five Principles of Holistic Nursing

Holistic nursing is guided by five core principles established by the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM):

1. Prevention is better than cure.
2. The effectiveness of integrating healing systems.
3. Relationship-based care characterizes holistic medicine.
4. Every experience is a teaching opportunity.
5. Accepting the curative power of love.

These principles reflect the values underlying integrative medicine and guide holistic nursing practice.

Duties of a Professional Holistic Nurse

A holistic nurse’s responsibilities involve providing care that aligns with the principles of holistic nursing. Holistic nurses offer compassion and address patients’ needs comprehensively, considering the interconnectedness of their mind, body, and spirit. They take various factors, such as lifestyle and diet, into account to promote overall patient health.

The History and Importance of Holistic Nursing

Holistic healthcare has evolved alongside advancements in medical science, recognizing the importance of nurses’ access to information and their role as patient advocates. The origins of holistic medicine can be traced back to ancient times, where treatments relied on plant-based remedies and firsthand accounts. Over time, medicine shifted toward empirical and scientific models, focusing primarily on the physical aspects of health. However, Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing, revived holistic medicine in the mid-19th century. Nightingale emphasized the importance of factors beyond physical care, such as sanitation and emotional well-being, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Holistic nursing is crucial because it has the potential to elevate the quality of care for all patients. By adopting a holistic perspective, healthcare practitioners can provide more effective and patient-centered care. Holistic nursing considers the whole person, respects their individuality, and emphasizes preventative care. It also addresses patients’ spiritual and emotional needs, promoting their overall well-being. Despite the benefits, many healthcare providers find it challenging to implement holistic nursing due to the current healthcare system’s structure and limitations.

Benefits of Holistic Nursing

Implementing holistic nursing care can benefit healthcare providers, patients, and the healthcare system as a whole. Holistic nursing promotes mental health normalization, recognizes the body’s innate healing capacity, respects alternative healing practices, emphasizes preventative care, reduces the need for invasive surgeries, addresses societal barriers to health, and treats patients with dignity and respect.

Value-Based Nursing Education

Education plays a crucial role in promoting holistic approaches to healthcare. Nursing programs should provide comprehensive education that equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary for holistic nursing practice. Marymount University’s online Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner program, for example, offers courses that cover population health statistics, epidemiology, biostatistics, leadership development, and ethical responsibilities. These programs emphasize compassionate care and aim to develop competent nurses who can deliver holistic care grounded in evidence.

In conclusion, holistic nursing is an approach that considers the whole person and their well-being, going beyond mere symptom treatment. It incorporates various therapies and emphasizes preventative care, aiming to improve patients’ overall quality of life. By embracing holistic nursing principles and values, healthcare practitioners can provide more effective, patient-centered care that addresses physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of health.