Holistic Nursing

Holistic means to look at the patient as a whole person with all of their systems being interconnected (mind, body, and soul) and not as a medical condition or medical diagnosis. A holistic nurse is a licensed nurse that chooses to focus on the holistic aspect of traditional nursing care by using nursing knowledge, theories, and experience to care for the entire human being.  Holistic nursing cultivates wholeness and encourages harmony and healing.  Holistic nursing is a theory of nursing care and a way of patient support, so any nurse in any area can promote holistic nursing.

All of nursing practice focuses on healing the entire person as its central theme, but holistic nurses see this as their primary attitude and philosophy.Holistic nurses honor the client’s values, beliefs, and health experiences by focusing on their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and environmental challenges and strengths. Holistic nurses take care of patients throughout the lifespan, with various conditions. Holistic nurses have the flexibility to work during the morning, evening, or even the night shift because holistic services are offered  24 hours a day and seven days a week. Holistic nurses play an important role in a wide range of facilities including the community, telehealth, inpatient and outpatient facilities.  Holistic nurses bring awareness about a person’s entire well-being and provide empowerment to the client.  Holistic nursing is a forward-facing and gratifying specialization.

Holistic nursing is a specialty distinguished from general nursing practice by focusing on the client as a whole. A holistic nurse will acknowledge the use of holistic principles and modalities in both nursing practice and their daily life.  A holistic nurse believes in health and wellness and focuses on the emotional aspect of the client. Holistic nurses provide their patients with. Holistic nurses use a complementary and integrative approach to their clinical practice and believe in alternative therapies and modalities for care.

Holistic nurses should practice what they preach by advocating for self-care and personal wellness.  They facilitate access to healthy behaviors and practices to the community, to clients, and to those in need.  Holistic nurses aim to spread their theories of mind, body, and spiritual interconnectedness to the mainstream healthcare arena.

Holistic nurses often promote complementary and integrative modalities as an alternative to mainstream medicine.  These modalities promote non-pharmacologic treatments of conditions or health promotions.  Other types of therapeutic modalities promote comfort and wellness.  Examples of these therapies include acupuncture, music therapy, guided imagery, and meditation. Holistic nursing may incorporate both homeopathy and naturopathy. Naturopathy is a type of alternative medicine that focuses on the theory that illness is effectively cured or prevented without the use of drugs and by using fitness, massage therapy, and nutrition.  Homeopathy is a branch of alternative medicine that centers on the use of natural substances to promote health or treat diseases like essential oils, supplements, and aromatherapy.

Education Requirements

In order to become a holistic nurse, you must first obtain a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program to successfully become a Registered Nurse (RN).  If your goal is to become an RN, you can attend either an Associate’s Degree program or pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.  After obtaining the nursing degree, you will take the NCLEX-RN to become licensed.  Finally, you will apply to the Board of Nursing in your state to become a Registered Nurse. Registered Nurses choose to become a holistic nurse and can pursue a certification in holistic nursing.


Holistic nurses have the option to pursue a certification that contributes to their credentials.  Holistic nurses can promote their field by meeting specified qualifications and competencies in holistic nursing.  The American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation credentials the holistic nurse and validates their practice in holistic nursing. These holistic nurses sit for the exam after meeting the prerequisite requirements including holding a current RN license, one year of full time nursing in the past five years (or 2000 hours), and 48 continuing education hours in holistic nursing theory, research, or practice.  After receiving this certification, they will be a Holistic Nurse, Board Certified (HN-BC).  

Job Description & Duties

The following are a list of basic qualities that Holistic nurses should be expected to possess.  This specialty is recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the qualifications are founded on:

  • Evidence-based research and nursing practice
  • Diverse modalities from a broad range of health practices including complementary, alternative, and integrative modalities
  • A philosophy of holism in all aspects of life (including professional and private) by being grounded in interconnected relationships
  • Collaborating with a variety of interdisciplinary professionals to implement a care team that can best support a client’s well-being.
  • A commitment to the best possible holistic and empathetic care for all clients
  • Shifting the healthcare paradigm from one of disease and illness to one of health and wellness.
  • Validates competence and expertise in the holistic nursing specialty by exemplifying a unique body of knowledge combined with the nursing skills

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Services in May 2015,  the median salary for a Registered Nurse is $67,930 annually.  However, the salary range is from $45,500 to $90,000 per year and varies significantly based on their profession, past nursing experience, and location. The career outlook for holistic nursing is excellent as the need for Registered Nurses increases with the baby boomer generation requiring an increased need for nursing care.  Many people are disenfranchised with the medical belief of only seeking to cure disease and wish to promote wellness and well-being.  Holistic nursing combines the best aspects of health promotion, interdisciplinary care, and client health empowerment.


American Holistic Nurses Association


American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation