Holistic Nursing


Holistic nursing is a specialty in the nursing profession based on the philosophy of Florence Nightingale, who urged nurses to treat the whole person rather than a single disease or symptoms. Holistic nurses earn certification credentialing by way of special programs, and they are often called “alternative nurses” or “complementary health nurses”.

Educational Requirements for Complementary Health Nurses

Most holistic nursing professionals are RNs, either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Nurses of both these levels must take and pass the national certification test called the NCLEX-RN. Some CHNs go on and obtain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from an accredited university. To become a holistic nurse practitioner, a student will need to take and score well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), have references and recommendation letters, and write a personal statement for admission to an accredited Master’s nursing program.

Holistic Nursing Certification

There are various certification programs for holistic nursing, but the most popular is sponsored by the American Holistic Nurses’ Certification Corporation (AHNCC). This organization offers three separate certification programs: one for caregivers without a degree, one for nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, and one for advanced practice nurses (APNs). Once the nurse passes the certification examination, he or she holds a “holistic nurse certification” or “HNC”.

The five different certification examinations offered by the AHNCC include: Holistic Nurse, Board Certified (HN-BC), Holistic Bachelor Nurse, Board Certified (HNB-BC), Advanced Holistic Nurse, Board Certified (AHN-BC), Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse, Board Certified (APRN-BC), and Nurse Coach, Board Certified (NC-BC). Most holistic nurses also choose to gain certification through complementary modalities, such as acupressure, massage, and music therapy.

Holistic Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries

Holistic nursing is a new profession, but in some states, it is a growing healthcare field. Holistic nurses work in acupuncture clinics, hospitals, medical centers, wellness facilities, home healthcare settings, and health farms and spas. They can open their own office or treatment center and provide alternative medicine options and natural treatments to patients.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010) lists registered nurses annual salary at $64,690 per year with an hourly wage of $31.00. However, the more education a nurse gains, the higher the pay. This organization also projects that nursing is a faster than average growing occupation with a 26% increase from the year 2010 to 2020. As with other nursing roles, holistic nurses’ pay rises as the nurse advances his or her level of practice. Most web sources report that alternative nurses who are RNs earn anywhere from $47,000 to $67,000 annually, and holistic nurse practitioners (HNPs) earn around $75,000. Both of these salaries corresponded to the year 2010.

Job Duties of a Holistic Nurse

The American Nurses Association (ANA) officially recognized holistic nursing as a specialty in 2006.The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) describes holistic nursing as an area of nursing practice that heals the whole person. Nurses in this specialty focus on the patient’s emotional, spiritual, social, mental, cultural, and relational health aspects. Complementary health nurses (CHNs) help patients become aware of not just their physical needs and problems, but their internal and environmental issues.

Holistic nursing involves an advanced set of nursing skills. Typical duties of an alternative nurse include practicing Chinese medicine, healing patients’ mental and spiritual health, providing acupuncture, doing massage therapy, offering aroma treatments, and administering Reflexology and Reiki. With this specialty, the patient is healed spiritually and physically at the same time.


AHNA (2013): http://www.ahna.org/

AHNCC (2013): http://ahncc.org/

ANA (2013): http://www.nursingworld.org/

ANCC (2013): http://www.nursecredentialing.org/

BLS (2010): http://www.bls.gov/

Nurse.Org (2013): http://www.nurse.org/orgs.shtml


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