the life of a holistic nurse

For those of you who are nurses or know a nurse you may be confused… aren’t all nurses holistic? The answer is yes! Nurses are known for caring in a way that encompasses the “whole” patient. Think Florence Nightingale, Martha Rogers, Jean WatsonVirginia HendersonDorothea E. OremBetty Neuman and many others. I wont bore you with a history lesson but I highly recommend checking out these ladies and all that they contributed to nursing and healthcare!

Nurses are voted time and time again as the the most trusted profession and with good reason! It is a tricky juggle being both at the bedside of our patients as well as behind the scenes. Its without saying that being a nurse consists of fulfilling so many duties. Unfortunately with that, in this day and age, the added stress and pressure placed on nurses doesn’t allow us to do all that we wish we could for our patients.

So that being said, what is a “Holistic Nurse” and what can it offer for patients, hospitals, the world & the even the nurses themselves? 

In a few points, a Holistic nurse is someone who:

  • is self aware
  • practices self-care
  • strives for personal growth (spiritual, physical, financial, etc)
  • recognizes and overcomes personal beliefs and possible biases that could effect the care given to patients of different backgrounds and cultures.
  • sees everyone as mindbodyspirit, understanding that there is no separation
  • being a facilitator of healing, understanding that YOU do not heal patients. Your goal is to allow the patient to reach a state of wellbeing where their body heals itself. NO ONE CAN HEAL SOMEONE ELSE- your body is the only thing that can heal your body.
  • Offers Complementary, Alternative & Integrative Modalities:
    • Meditation / Guided Imagery
    • Ear Seeds
    • Breath-work
    • Mindful Presence
    • M-technique
    • Herbs & Supplemental Advice
    • Nutritional Advice
    • Aromatherapy
    • Energy Healing & Energy Assessing
    • Music Therapy
    • Exercise & Movement
    • any other modality that promotes overall wellbeing

There is not one clear cut definition of a holistic nurse but some of these bullet points listed above are things that we strive for. If you notice I have bolded, underlined  and italicized the phrase mindful presence.  This is so important for so many reasons but the main reason is because there is no perfect facility or speciality for a holistic nurse to work. While there are hospitals and doctors offices that are becoming more innovative and adapting and promoting holistic, complementary, alternative and integrative medicine… we still have a long way to go.

Mindful presence is something that we can offer, not only as nurses but also as people in our everyday lives! It is essentially utilizing mindfulness, allowing us to be present in all that we do. As nurses we often are in and out of patients rooms and the reasons why we are in their rooms in the first place is because we are giving them medication, following up on a pain assessment or answering a call bell!

Imagine if in those moments, you stopped and recognized that this point in time and this interaction will never happen again. It truly is an honor to be in someones life at such a crucial and often times scary time. Be present, take a deep breath, look your patient in their eyes and ask them genuinely “How are you doing today?”. It can be as simple as that.

There are a lot of great articles that touch on mindfulness in nursing. Stating that it can help your assessment skills as well as allow you to build a better communication with your patients and even decreases your chances of burning out. ( Check out theses articles if you are interested in more: here, here, &  here )

The Future of Healthcare

At my graduation we had Dr. Ben Kligler MD MPH speak. While I appreciated the motivational portion of his speech, what stuck with me more was the fact that he said 2017-2018 will be known as the year that conventional medicine finally recognizes the need for holistic, complementary, alternative and integrative medicine.

The Joint Commission which is “an independent, not-for-profit organization, that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care and whose accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.” is also on board with alternative ways for care. For anyone who works in healthcare we know that this is HUGE. As of February 2018,  JC now requires hospitals to provide at least one non-pharmacological pain treatment modality! While it may only be a start, this is a step in the right direction.

As far as what I hope the future of healthcare, it is simply providing patients with choices, information, wellness and quality of life. Patients should be educated, informed and actively participate in their health and their future. We educate our patients on medications and procedures but do we ever explain health promotion practices that can be done in conjunction (complimentary) with conventional medicine? There is a wealth of information and options for everyone, be it a patient in the hospital or not.

I look forward to sharing more about my journey in holistic nursing! If you have any questions or want to chat feel free to message me here or on instagram.

Best Wishes,

The Wholesome Holistic