How to Become a Holistic Nurse: Career Overview

NurseJournal Staff
Updated November 23, 2022
Learn about how to become a holistic nurse, holistic nursing jobs, holistic nurse salary expectations, and how to earn certification.
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average earning potential$75,330SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Holistic Nurse Career in Brief

adn or bsn required
certification optional

Holistic nursing systematically approaches health as the interrelation of physical, mental, emotional/psychological, spiritual, and environmental components to treat patients at each of these levels.

Holistic nursing jobs usually include these responsibilities:

Primary Responsibilities

  • Encouraging patients to discuss different aspects of their well-being.
  • Identifying potential complementary care approaches, such as aromatherapy, meditation, or massage.
  • Providing advice and care for stress management.
  • Offering wellness coaching.

Certification Option

Holistic Nursing Certification

Where Do Holistic Nurses Work?

The majority of holistic nurses work in acute care hospitals (35%), universities and colleges (20%), and private practices (20%). The following lists duties in common job settings and home healthcare where 10% of holistic nurses work.

  • minusHospitals

    Holistic nurses provide nonpharmacological pain management, educate patients on stress management as part of recovery, and refer patients to or provide effective complementary care.

  • minusUniversities and Colleges

    Holistic nurses teach students how to maintain whole-body wellness, advise students on how to reduce anxiety, and lead wellness coaching sessions.

  • minusHome Healthcare

    Holistic nurses assist patients with adjusting to serious conditions, advise on types of nonpharmacological pain relief, and refer patients to spiritual, mental, or emotional care.

Why Become a Holistic Nurse?

Holistic nursing jobs can provide considerable satisfaction because holistic nursing addresses needs beyond a patient’s physical conditions, and holistic nurses typically have knowledge of complementary or alternative treatments.

However, holistic nursing does have some drawbacks. For instance, insurance may not cover the additional time that a holistic consultation requires, and some caregivers are skeptical about the usefulness of holistic care. See below for additional pros and cons.

Advantages to Becoming a Holistic Nurse

  • check-circleHolistic nurses can work in nearly any healthcare or wellness setting.
  • check-circleHolistic nursing addresses patient needs beyond the physical.
  • check-circleHolistic care helps patients recover psychologically from life-changing injuries or illnesses.

Disadvantages to Becoming a Holistic Nurse

  • x-circleA holistic consult takes longer than one that addresses just physical issues; insurance may not cover the full cost.
  • x-circleSome colleagues share skepticism about the value of holistic care.
  • x-circleMany treatments do not have sufficient research, making it difficult to distinguish effective approaches.
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How to Become a Holistic Nurse

Earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)

An ADN takes two years to complete, while a BSN requires four years. However, many jobs, especially higher-level positions, require the BSN.

Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive registered nurse (RN) licensure

This exam, which takes approximately six hours, covers all aspects of nursing, including nursing practice, conditions and their treatment, communications, the healthcare infrastructure, and legal/ethical issues.

Gain bedside nursing experience

While any nurse can adopt holistic practices, certification requires nursing experience. Many holistic nurses study complementary health and wellness approaches, such as massage, meditation, or wellness coaching.

Consider earning Holistic Nursing Certification

This certification requires at least one year (full time) or 2,000 hours (part time) holistic nursing experience over five years, with at least 48 hours of continuing nursing education within two years. The American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation offers four types of certification depending on education level.

How Much Do Holistic Nurses Make?

Based on general RN salary data, the median annual holistic nurse salary is $75,330, while the median annual salary for all occupations is $41,950, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As with all nurse salaries, holistic nurse salaries vary by location, BSN status, and experience.

The BLS projects RN jobs to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029, faster than the U.S. average. While there is no specific data on growth for holistic nursing jobs, it seems likely that with ongoing interest in complementary medicine and ongoing research into effective complementary practices, demand for holistic nurses could keep pace with or exceed growth among all categories of RNs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a holistic nurse do?

A holistic nurse provides care for patients across all dimensions of wellness, including mental, emotional, environmental, and spiritual health. Holistic nursing care may include complementary and alternative healthcare, such as aromatherapy, breathwork, or mind-body practices.

What does it mean to be a holistic nurse?

A holistic nurse is one who sees health and wellness as much more than the absence of physical illness or injury and who provides care to address all aspects of health. Holistic nursing may include approaches outside contemporary Western practice, such as traditional Eastern approaches to wellness.

What are the five core values of holistic nursing?

The five core values of holistic nursing include holistic philosophy, theory, and ethics; the holistic caring process; holistic communication, therapeutic environment, and cultural diversity; holistic education and research; and holistic nurse self-care.

How do I become a certified holistic nurse?

A certified holistic nurse requires a current, unencumbered nursing license, at least one year (full time) or 2,000 hours (part time) experience as a holistic nurse, at least 48 hours of continuing nursing education, and passing the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation certification examination.

Resources for Holistic Nurses

  • American Holistic Nurses Association

    The American Holistic Nurses Association offers continuing education, an annual conference, publications, and online networking and discussion; creates self-care resources for holistic nurses; and publishes the scope and standards of holistic nursing practice. Membership is open to holistic healthcare professionals of any kind, not just holistic nurses.
  • Journal of Holistic Nursing

    The Journal of Holistic Nursing, which started publication in 1983, is a peer-reviewed quarterly journal from Sage Publishing, one of the larger academic publishers. It supports both traditional and emerging approaches to scholarship. Each issue includes opportunities to earn continuing education credits.
  • Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine

    The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed, open-access journal that covers traditional medicine, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, and the history and cultural context of traditional medicine. It has been accepted by the Joint Commission of Taiwan for evaluation of its teaching hospitals.
  • National League for Nursing

    The National League for Nursing serves nurse educators with professional development opportunities; offers recognition and awards programs; certifies nursing education programs and nurse educators; engages in advocacy; and creates teaching resources. There are membership categories for nurse educators, schools of nursing, and associate members.

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Portrait of Nicole Galan, RN, MSN

Nicole Galan, RN, MSN

Nicole Galan is a registered nurse who earned a master’s degree in nursing education from Capella University and currently works as a full-time freelance writer. Throughout her nursing career, Galan worked in a general medical/surgical care unit and then in infertility care. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students.

Galan is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners.

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