Guest Author - Colleen Moore, RN
The American Holistic Nursing Association (AHNA) is an organization that recognizes holism. Holism is defined as the sum of all parts and holistic treatment focuses on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being.
This organization believes that holism can be obtained by following the interrelationship of ones bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of oneself and the understanding of oneself within its environment and community.
Holistic nursing is a specialty based on knowledge, evidence-based research, and advanced skill sets. Their objective is to focus on ones awareness of the whole self. The AHNA’s mission is committed to unity, healing of the self, the profession, and the planet.
Holistic nursing practice is based on a set of core values. Holistic philosophy, nursing theories, and ethics are the main focus. These values are the framework of which the AHNA works. Nurses within the organization must learn the basic philosophies, theories and ethics involved in holistic nursing so that they may teach it to their patients. Ethically they promote caring, healing and dignity for the patient, themselves and the community.
The next set of values is keeping current with research and education. Nurses must stay up to date with new research, accepted holistic practices and maintain competencies.
Nurse self-care is a very important value that the American Holistic Nursing Association believes their members must exemplify. Another words nurse’s must practice what they preach. Holistic nurse’s must look at their own life, be aware of self and how that impacts others.
Another set of values the AHNA believes are important, holistic communication, therapeutic environment, and cultural diversity. All of these are foundational concepts in holistic nursing.
The last value is the holistic caring process. This is similar to the standard nursing process. The holistic nursing process includes assessment, patterns/challenges/needs, outcomes, therapeutic care plans, implementation and evaluation.
The AHNA believes in treating the patient, the family, the community and themselves. Their standards of practice impact the nurse, the nursing units and the organizations in which they work. As the holistic nurse reflects on her own life and reaches greater awareness of her need for mind, body and spirit balance, she is able to understand those needs in her patients and with her co-workers. Thus, the ability of the nurses to work together would be enhanced as in communication levels. The holistic nurses realize that family and significant others are vital to the plan of care. Healthcare organizations that rely on a holistic approach take all of these beliefs into consideration and as a result, the community is affected and brought into balance.
Holistic nurses may utilize approaches and therapies recognized by the National Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s five major domains of CAM practices. These methods are integrated into a comprehensive holistic nursing practice. Nurses must be competent in the CAM therapies and practices they use and the use of these interventions must be integrated into a comprehensive holistic nursing practice. The nurses that utilize these approaches are responsible for any additional education, training and experience necessary for competency.
To become AHNCC certified, the applicant must complete three steps. First, they must apply to qualify for certification. This includes completing the application available on the website. The site also includes a checklist with eligibility requirements which must be met. Within this application process, it is necessary to pay the application to qualify fee. This fee ranges from $250-500, dependent upon if the applicant is an AHNCC member and if it is a recertification. The board of directors approves applications within three-four weeks of applying.
Applicants that receive the approval will then move on to step two which is the qualitative assessment. This consists of the applicant writing an essay. The nurse will explain how he/she integrates the concepts of holistic nursing into his/her practice.
The final step is the quantitative examination. The exam is a two hundred multiple choice computer test that is based on the body of knowledge. Nine concepts make up the body, which includes philosophy, ethics, theories, research, holism, self-care, health promotion, meaning and modalities.
It is important when using Complimentary and Alternative Modalities (CAM) that you know your states Nurse Practice Act. Many states have clear guidelines for what is considered acceptable CAM practices. Acupuncture and message therapy are known and accepted treatments but there are specific guidelines about who is allowed to practice these services. The AHNA is very specific on the need for education and certification when practicing holistic nursing. Many Nurses’ use CAM techniques everyday to improve coping mechanisms such as stress management, reduction of pain and relaxation techniques. Nurses need to be careful about practicing within their scope and understand their state regulations.
It is extremely important when obtaining patient history these therapies are included. The nurse must remember to “ask direct, nonjudgmental questions about the patient’s use of CAM. Include inquires about specific various therapies, especially herbal preparations. Many patients are embarrassed to admit they use CAM therapies; it is the nurse’s responsibility to explain to the patient why it is necessary to divulge this information.
It is very important that any use of alternative therapies including vitamins and herbal remedies are documented as part of the medications the patient is currently taking because of potential interactions with traditional therapies. Nurses can be held liable if this information is not accurately documented and reported.
To learn more about the AHNA and CAM visit the links below.