According to the American Nursing Association, Holistic Nursing is defined as; “all nursing practice that has healed the whole person as to its goal” (Lundy & Janes, 2009). This, therefore, implies that holistic nursing is a type of nursing that approaches the healing process from a holistic perspective, whereby the treatment is aimed at treating the whole body and not just an isolated part of the body. Lundy and Janes (2009) point out that for holistic nurses to be effective in their work, they have to apply their knowledge in nursing in general, when handling every patient. In addition to that, holistic nurses are required to factor in their patient’s intuition and other such patient-related input that may assist them in treating the patient (Lundy & Janes, 2009). This, therefore, implies that, unlike convectional nursing, holistic nursing accords more attention to the patient, taking into account the patient’s values, general well being, emotional state, lifestyle habits, and other such aspects that might have a significant impact on the holistic well being of the patient.
Dossey and Keegan (2008) assert that in the practice of holistic medicine, holistic nurses usually apply the use of conventional medication as a last resort. This is usually informed by the belief that convectional medication can potentially mask the underlying cause. Therefore, holistic nurses usually apply the use of holistic treatment approaches in trying to treat the underlying cause before prescribing any convectional medication (Dossey & Keegan, 2008). Some of the most common holistic treatment approaches include appropriate lifestyle changes including dietary changes, homeopathic remedies, and stress remedies. This also includes other such treatments that are geared towards treating the underlying cause, as opposed to just merely treating the symptoms (Dossey & Keegan, 2008).
Having looked at the general description of what holistic nursing is, it is imperative to analyze some of the advantages of holistic nursing from the nurse’s point of view. Dossey and Keegan (2008) point out that there are various advantages that a holistic nurse has over convectional nurses. First and foremost, holistic nurses unlike convectional nurses, get to have a better understanding of their patients. This is because of the nature of this nursing practice, in that it seeks to treat the whole body as opposed to just the ailing part of the body. This, therefore, implies that holistic nurses have to adopt methodologies that will enhance their understanding of the patient’s whole body and in addition to that, enhance their understanding of some of the underlying causes of the ailment.
In addition to being in a position to better understand their patients, registered holistic nurses are allowed to apply both conventional and alternative medical practices in their profession. Dossey and Keegan (2008) point out that in its application, holistic nursing is not limited to conventional medical practices alone, instead, it also relies upon the input of alternative medical practices to help facilitate the holistic healing process.
For instance, a holistic nurse’s approach to an ailment such as a headache might be quite different from conventional medicine. This is because, unlike a convectional nurse who will try to treat the headache, a holistic nurse will look for the underlying cause of the ailment, whereby they will try to find out if the ailment is caused by stress, poor dietary habits, inadequate sleep, or any other such causes. This will result in a holistic treatment plan that involves convectional medication to treat the headache, but in addition to that, employ the use of alternative treatment methods such as a change in dietary habits or adaptation of better sleep patterns to treat the underlying cause (Dossey & Keegan, 2008). This, therefore, implies that in cases where an ailment is a result of an underlying cause, holistic nursing will be more effective as opposed to convectional nursing in treating the patient.
In addition to applying the use of both conventional and alternative medical practices, another advantage of holistic nursing is that it is more effective in the treatment of certain diseases, that require more input from both the nurse and the patient. For instance, Clark (2004) points out that the treatment of chronic ailments such as HIV/AIDS is more effective when done with a holistic approach. This is because the well-being of patients suffering from such conditions, among other things, heavily relies on the emotional state of the patient. Therefore, the effectiveness of any treatment option, convectional or otherwise, will heavily depend on their emotional strength and general approach towards life.
A holistic nurse will, for instance, offer advice to the patient on how they can improve their general emotional state, including any lifestyle changes that they can make to attain this objective. Specifically, they might offer advice on how the patient can improve their interpersonal relationships, suggest to the patient some of the support groups that might help them in coping with the disease, and advise the patient on the importance of spiritual stability, as far as enhancing their emotional stability is concerned. Generally, they can seek ways that will help improve the overall wellbeing of the patient (Clark, 2004). In addition to its effectiveness in treating HIV/AIDS, studies also indicate that holistic nursing is also more effective in the treatment and management of chronic pain. Chronic pain is a serious illness that usually affects most cancer and other terminally ill patients. The ability of holistic nurses to be compassionate in their practice means; they can appreciate and understand the condition of the patient, as far as the effects of chronic pain are concerned (Clark, 2004). They are, therefore, better equipped at providing the much-needed psychological counseling that is very important, as far as the management and treatment of chronic pain is concerned.
All in all, holistic nursing is a branch of holistic medicine, which applies various methodologies aimed at treating the body as a whole. Holistic medicine usually seeks to treat the underlying causes of the disease, rather than simply treating the symptoms. For this reason, holistic medicine usually applies the use of conventional medicine as a last resort. Instead, it applies the use of holistic treatment approaches in treating the patient. There are various advantages of holistic nursing from the nurse’s perspective. First of all, holistic nursing accords the nurse an opportunity to be in a better position to understand their patient’s overall wellbeing. Thus, they are in a better position to treat them. Secondly, holistic nurses can apply the use of both conventional and alternative medical practices in administering treatment to their patients. Finally, holistic medicine is more effective in the treatment and management of certain conditions such as HIV/AIDS and chronic pain.
Clark, C.C. (2004). The Holistic Nursing Approach to Chronic Disease. London: Springer.
Dossey, B.M., & Keegan, L. (2008). Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice. New Jersey: Jones & Bartlett.
Lundy, K.S., & Janes, S. (2009). Community Health Nursing: Caring for the Public’s Health. New Jersey: Jones & Bartlett.