What Does a Holistic Nurse Do?
Holistic nurses are specially trained to assist in providing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by itself or in combination with conventional Western medicine when treating patients. Holistic nursing is based on the premise that you cannot treat a patient’s physical health without addressing the “whole” person—including a patient’s mental, spiritual and emotional health and well-being. For this reason, holistic nurses are said to approach nursing in a different way than the average staff nurse. Some holistic nurses are certified to provide alternative medical treatments, such as acupuncture; others focus of stress management and incorporate aromatherapy and massage. Others work in integrated care departments at hospitals, where treatments like hypnosis, hydrotherapy and balneotherapy (the use of mineral waters for healing) are often used as therapy for mental health problems, such as depression and addiction. Traditional Chinese and other Eastern healing practices are often incorporated as part of holistic nursing. Some holistic nurses work in birthing centers, where they coach pregnant women; others are self-employed as personal wellness coaches.
How Can I Become a Holistic Nurse?
The first step toward becoming a holistic nurse is to complete an approved nursing education program. The most common way of doing this is to earn a degree in nursing. Most people earn either an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university. Less common is earning a nursing diploma, a program typically offered through hospitals. After completing a nursing program, all future nurses go on to take an exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) so they can become licensed to practice nursing in their state. If you intend to incorporate treatments such as acupuncture and massage as a holistic nurse, you will need to obtain additional state certification in these areas. After gaining experience treating patients as a staff nurse, a nurse can proceed to become credentialed as a board certified holistic nurse through the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation. The highest certification you can attain as a holistic nurse is the Advanced Holistic Nurse-Board Certified (AHN-BC) credential.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Holistic Nurse?
The career outlook for nurses overall is excellent, and those who specialize in a particular area of health care, such as holistic nursing, are often highly sought-after. At the same time, holistic nursing is a niche profession, so you may have difficulty finding positions that meet the description of the work you are looking for. Employment of registered nurses overall is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for a holistic nurse is $45,000, according to SimplyHired.com, a site that calculates average salaries based on what is listed in the job postings it receives. However, a number of factors can affect a nurse’s salary, including how many years of experience you have, what certifications you have (being an AHN-BC can lead to higher salaries), what region of the U.S. you live in, and whether you are working in a metropolitan or rural area. Advanced practice nurses (who are trained at the master’s level) also earn significantly higher salaries on average.