A Way of Being, a Way of Living, a Way of Practice!
By Lucia Thornton
What do holistic nurses do? Where do they work? Do I need special education and training to become a holistic nurse?
Article Copyright 2008, Lucia Thornton
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Figure I : Holistic Nurse Demographics from AHNA membership.
Questions for Self-Exploration and Awareness
olistic nursing can be practiced in any setting. Demographics from the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) membership show that 39 percent of holistic nurses work in hospitals, 23 percent in private practice, 15 percent in academia/education/research, 11percent hospice/palliative/long term care, and 9 percent are students (AHNA, 2007) (see Figure I). AHNA defines holistic nursing as “all nursing that has healing the whole person as its goal” (AHNA 2007). As a student, you can begin to incorporate holistic practices that will enrich your personal life, your educational experience and your clinical practicum. Holistic nursing is a way of being, a way of living, and a way of practicing that will transform your life and transform your work.
A Way of Being . . .
Being a Caring and Healing Presence
A primary focus of holistic nursing is to bring “caring” and “healing” back into our health care system. The first step in this process is for nurses to learn to love and care for themselves. While this may seem a selfish pursuit, learning to care deeply for ourselves by taking the time to nurture ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually is absolutely essential. When we do so, we begin to realize our wholeness and we actually become a healing presence for our patients. As a student nurse you are concerned primarily with what nurses “do” (e.g., giving treatments, changing dressings, monitoring vital signs, etc.) Mastering clinical nursing techniques and treatments is essential in order to help your patients heal and recover from their illness or surgery. However, who you are, how you feel inside, and the attitude that you convey also have a profound effect on the patient. When you walk into a (continued on p. 36)
Take some time each day to reflect on an aspect of your life. Here are some questions to help you explore various aspects of your life: • Physical: Is my diet optimal? Does my intake consist mainly of whole and natural foods? Do I receive optimal sleep and rest daily? Do I engage in beneficial movement and exercise daily? Do my breathing patterns promote well-being? • Mental: Do I have a problem-solving orientation toward life rather than a victim mentality? Do I usually have a positive attitude and positive thoughts toward school and work? Do I have a sense of humor ? Do I possess self-awareness – am I objective about my strengths, limitations and possibilities? Am I able to perceive reality with clarity? • Emotional: Do I love and accept myself and others? Am I able to give and receive love from myself and others? Am I able to express my own truth? Am I able to have deep feelings of identification, sympathy, and affection for others? • Social/relational: Do I engage in relationships that are wholesome and loving? Do I engage in relationships that promote growth in my self and others? Am I able to set healthy boundaries with others? Do I engage in work that is meaningful? • Spiritual/Energetic: Am I able to connect with God/higher self/universe/spirit? Do I engage in meditation/prayer/introspective practices regularly? Do I know and understand love as the essence of self? Do I have a deep respect for all? Take your time in addressing each of these questions. Remember this is a life long process of deep inner inquiry and growth. As you go through these questions, note when you respond with a powerful “no.” These are the areas that you need to pay attention to. Focus on one area at a time. Create some short-term and long-term goals for each of...