Holistic Nurse


The holistic nurse is not a new nursing specialty. Florence Nightingale was believed to be one of the first complimentary health nurses. The Holistic nurse integrates alternative treatments into standard medical practice. Traditional nursing is not ignored it is simply complimented with techniques which many feel will enhance the patients overall health.

Some of the techniques used by holistic nurses (sometimes called complimentary nurses) include massage therapy, positive imagery, acupuncture and body balance. Nurses may be found using holistic health techniques in hospitals, clinics, alternative medicine practices and home health and hospice situations. The complimentary health nurse does not replace standard nursing practices with alternative methods but instead complements standard nursing techniques treating the body and mind as directly connected and parts of a whole.

Holistic Nurse Nurse Job Description and Scope of Practice

The holistic nurse may work in a variety of settings. A holistic nurse might be employed by clinics specializing in holistic medicine where they would administer traditional treatments as well as the holistic therapy in which the nurse specializes.  A number of licensed nurses have chosen to become registered massage therapists as well. These nurses integrate massage therapy into their standard nursing procedures.

The complimentary health nurse who is a trained acupuncturist may perform their specialty in addition to administering treatments and medications ordered by the physician in a holistic practice. The massage therapist/Registered Nurse might integrate that therapy with their regular nursing duties.

How to Become a Holistic Nurse

Holistic health nurses generally learn a number of alternative nursing techniques in modules during nursing school. Some nurses choose to learn other techniques such as acupuncture massage therapy, guided imagery and therapeutic touch to name a few common techniques. Whatever the specialty of the complimentary health nurse; the goal is the same to help relieve pain, provide comfort and encourage a healthy relaxed mind and a healthier body. Relaxation techniques are frequently used by holistic nurses with the patient’s permission to help relieve pain.

Holistic Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

  • The holistic nurse/complimentary health nurse must hold a nursing degree or diploma from an accredited nursing school.
  • Passing the state license examination for the applicable license such as RN, or LPN/LVN
  • Participate in formal training for the alternative medicine therapy the nurse chooses to provide. A nurse who chooses to offer acupuncture must successfully complete an acupuncture school. Massage therapist nurses generally seek formal training in massage therapy. Other complimentary health nurses provide positive imagery therapy and even yoga therapies for their patients.
  • Holistic nurses are certified at three levels through the American Holistic Nurses’ Certification Association (AHNCC). For registered nurses who do not have a Bachelor Degree in Nursing, the certification is called HN-BC or Holistic Nurse-Board Certified. For those who do posses a four-year degree, the certification is called HNB-BC or Holistic Nurse Baccalaureate-Board Certified. Those with graduate degrees will be certified as an AHN-BC or Advanced Holistic Nurse-Board Certified, the highest certification available to holistic nurses. Applicants must work as a holistic nurse for one year or an equivalent of 2000 hours before attempting to take the certification exam. Certification exams are given by the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) at more than 400 locations. All candidates are given a quantitative test which takes several hours to complete. Holistic nurse certification is endorsed through the American Holistic Nurse Association (AHNA). Certification is not required, but many hospitals seek candidates with certification credentials.

Holistic Nurse/Complimentary Health Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The holistic nurse/complimentary health nurse salary depends upon the nurse’s level of education. In general, the RN who specializes in holistic medicine earns around $50,000 a year. Many of the services provided by holistic nurses are unpaid.

The job outlook for RNs and LPN/LVN nurses who practice complimentary nursing is very good. Nursing jobs are predicted to grow at the rate of 21% or more through the year 2018.

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