How to Become a Holistic Nurse

Overview

Holistic nurses are registered nurses (RN’s) who specialize in holistic medicine. They perform duties of other registered nurses such as treating patients and educating them about medical conditions. Holistic nurses treat patients’ mental and spiritual health in addition to their physical health. They may provide treatments including acupuncture, massage and aroma therapy and biofeedback. An RN will record a patient’s medical history and symptoms, assist with diagnostic tests, analyze results and administer treatments and medications. It is also up to the RN to follow up on patients and track their rehabilitation. Nurses also provide emotional support to the patient’s family.

For patients with serious injuries or illnesses, RN’s like holistic nurses offer recommendations on care at home after being released from the hospital. They may put together a diet and exercise regimen, and instruct patients on taking medication and performing physical therapy. A holistic nurse may educate the public about the warning signs and symptoms of disease, and give advice for getting help. RN’s may stage immunization clinics, blood drives, health screenings and educational talks on a medical condition.

Work Environment

Holistic nurses can work with all kinds of people in a variety of settings. Many nurses work in health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. Patients in these settings may require round the clock care, so nurses may be scheduled to work nights, weekends and holidays. A nurse may also be on call to come to work on short notice. Some RN’s travel to patients’ homes, or visit schools and community centers. Nurses must guard against hazards like infectious disease and accidents with needles. They are often on their feet for long periods of time, and they may suffer from emotional stress from dealing with critically ill patients and their families.

Requirements

Education

According to the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, a holistic registered nurse can chose one of three educational paths. They can earn a four-year undergraduate bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN), a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (AND), or graduate with a diploma from an approved nursing program. Holistic registered nurses must obtain a license, and when they do they qualify for an entry level staff nurse position, whether they have an associate degree, bachelor degree or diploma.

All nursing education programs provide coursework in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, nutrition, physiology, psychology and liberal arts as well as nursing. Students have the opportunity to participate in supervised clinical experiences in a range of hospital departments. Aspiring nurses will serve in departments including pediatrics, maternity, surgery and psychiatry. Some nursing programs provide clinical experience in long-term care facilities, walk-in clinics, public health departments and home health agencies.

Administrative, research, consulting and teaching positions for holistic nurses generally require a bachelor’s degree. Programs leading to a bachelor’s degree typically include additional training in such fields as physical science, social science, communication, critical thinking and leadership. Candidates will have more clinical experience outside of a hospital setting.

Registered holistic nurses who hold an ADN or a diploma often accept an entry level position to use tuition reimbursement from their employer to complete their BSN. Other nursing programs include a combination bachelor’s and master’s degree program, and courses for those who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field.

Licensing

Registered holistic nurses must obtain a nursing license in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and United States territories. A license may be obtained by graduating from an approved nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination, the NCLEX-RN. To find out if your state has any further requirements, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.

Certification

While certification for holistic registered nurses may be voluntary, some employers may prefer or even require this credential.

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Holistic nurses should enjoy helping people and find satisfaction in making a difference in people’s lives. To be effective in dealing with patients, a holistic nurse should have the ability to empathize with all types of patients and their families. They must be capable of remaining calm in dealing with stressful situations in the form of emergencies, traumatic events and critical illness. A nurse must be able to communicate not only with patients, but with doctors and co-workers in an environment that is often fast- paced. Excellent communication can avoid mistakes and medical mishaps. Holistic nurses must perform their duties with responsibility, note any change in a patient’s health status or behavior, and treat medical conditions with great accuracy.

Salary & Job Outlook

The annual median wages for registered nurses in 2010 was $64,690, according to the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Employment for registered nurses is expected to grow at 26 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than for other occupations.

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