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What is Holistic Nursing?

Did you know that Florence Nightingale was considered one of the first holistic nurses? This practice of nursing focuses on healing the whole person, and according to the Holistic Nurses Association, it recognizes the interconnectedness of body, mind, emotion, spirit, social/cultural, relationship, context, and environment.

Job Duties

The American Nurses Association officially recognized holistic nursing as a special area in the field in 2006. These nurses (also called natural healers) treat a variety of people including cancer patients, pregnant women, and those who are severely depressed. They perform some of the most popular holistic treatments including acupuncture, aromatherapy, and massage, though, they also use more alternative methods such as balneotherapy, hydrotherapy, and hypnosis. Other duties include:

  • Helping patients with stress management
  • Wellness coaching
  • Performing various Eastern healing practices

Work Environment 

Some holistic nurses prefer to open their own licensed practices, while others work in birthing centers, hospice facilities, long-term medical care facilities, and patients’ homes. When it comes to hospice and long-term care facilities, these nurses are generally in high demand.


Holistic NursingTo work as a holistic nurse, you will need to earn an Associate of Science Degree or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (preferred). While enrolled in holistic nursing school, you will take a basic range of health policy, nursing practice, and science courses in addition to theory practice of holistic medicine, specific modalities such as energy work, and professional standards. Courses differ by school, but many programs also offer training in compassion, healing or therapeutic touch, massage therapy, and intuition and spirituality.

When choosing a program, make sure it is endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation. Schools include:

  • Capitol University Department of Nursing
  • Dominican University of California School of Arts and Science
  • Florida Atlantic University School of Nursing
  • Metropolitan State University
  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • West Virginia University School of Nursing
  • Xavier University School of Nursing

Licensure and Certification

In order to practice in this field, all you need is a state nursing license (LPN or RN) which you earn by passing the NCLEX administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. However, you can sit for the Holistic Nurse or Holistic Baccalaureate Nurse examinations administered by the American Holistic Credentialing Corporation. You need to meet the following requirements before you can take either exam:

  • You must hold a current, unrestricted registered nursing license in the United States
  • You need to have at least one year full-time holistic nurse work experience or a minimum of 2,000 hours part-time experience during the five years prior to taking the exam.You must complete at least 48 hours of continuing holistic nursing education during the two years prior to sitting for the exam.

If you are going to treat patients with acupuncture and massage, you may need to earn additional state certification in these areas.

Benefits of Certification

  • It lets patients know you have met national standards
  • It can boost your confidence in your professional ability
  • It validates your knowledge in the holistic nursing field
  • It shows your dedication to the nursing profession
  • It may provide you with more career opportunities and a higher salary

Job Outlook and Salary

Due to the growing interest in alternative and complementary health care, holistic nurses can expect job opportunities to grow faster than normal, especially if the have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Bureau also reports registered nurses in all fields earn a median national salary of $65,470, while licensed practical nurses earn about $41,540. Your salary will depend on location, your experience, and your education.

If you would like to learn more about holistic nursing, contact us.