Becoming a Holistic Nurse

When people think of healthcare, they often think of merely managing the symptoms for the patients to treat their illness or condition. With holistic nursing, the mind and body are just as important to wellness as spirit and emotion. 

Holistic health is a field that essentially recognizes the totality of the human being, by integrating natural healing into clinical practice to help better treat people’s psychological, physiological, and spiritual needs. This helps to complement more traditional methods for a well-rounded approach. 

Becoming a holistic nurse means that instead of fitting into the conventional medical model, you will be taking a comprehensive approach to nursing. You will learn how to best use lifestyle medicine to provide more holistic health and nursing solutions. You will learn to integrate exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, sleep, and the science of human change. With holistic nursing training and education, you will be able to focus on your patient’s health and guide them to overall wellness. 

What is Holistic Nursing?

Holistic nursing refers to the form of nursing practice focused on treating the patient as a whole instead of merely treating the symptoms of their current condition. A holistic nurse, also called a complementary health nurse, is an RN with board certification who takes a mind-body-spirit approach when it comes to practicing traditional nursing.

In most cases, holistic nurses employ several alternative forms of medicine alongside conventional Western medicine in their practice. This might include therapeutic massage, dietary advice, meditation therapy, and breathwork. Holistic nursing practitioners often encourage patients to integrate self-responsibility, self-care, reflection, and spirituality into their lives to help maintain a proper balance of body, mind, and spirit. 

Holistic nursing essentially looks at the bigger picture for overarching stressors, patterns, and habits that could impact a person’s health. This usually involves looking into the patient’s mental health, physiology, social environment, and spiritual beliefs to care for the patient better. 

What Does a Holistic Nurse Do?

Holistic nursing usually involves the same basic roles and responsibilities of an RN, though the manner in which holistic nurses treat their patients and offer care may differ. For instance, an RN may diagnose patients with issues and prescribe something to alleviate the issue. By comparison, holistic nursing means that the nurse will not only address the health issues the patient might be dealing with but also explore the patient’s overall wellness in relation to both the issue and who they are as an individual. 

This could mean addressing the overall lifestyle that might be causing or aggravating the issue. They might prescribe medication if necessary, and make other recommendations like stress relief exercises, dietary changes, and more, which help with the healing and prevent a possible recurrence. 

Some of the most common therapies and techniques in holistic nursing include the following: 

Stress management techniques

Dietary coaching


Breathing exercises

Wellness Coaching



Therapeutic massage

Hypnotherapy and balneotherapy

Cranio-sacral therapy


Network spinal analysis

Aromatherapy and herbal therapy


Exercise programs

Where do Holistic Nurses Work?

Holistic nurses mainly find career opportunities in clinics, hospitals, patient homes, and primary care facilities. They may also work with the government, educational institutions, and social service organizations. Holistic nurses can practice in hospice care facilities too, where they use holistic medicine to help treat terminally ill patients at the end of their lives. 

How to Become a Holistic Nurse

Just as with other registered nurses, you have to complete a few steps to become certified as a holistic nurse. You may need to complete a degree or diploma program for a BSN or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). If you’re already working as an RN, you can get your BSN through a registered school that offers online degree programs. Once you obtain an ADN or BSN, you will need to pass your state’s NCLEX-RN exam and become a registered nurse before you are allowed to work. 


If you have obtained your RN license, you can apply for certification from the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC). The prerequisites for certifications include:

Holding an unrestricted U.S. RN license

Having completed at least 48 hours of continuing nursing education, including Research, Theory, Practice, and other related topics.

Working as a holistic nurse for at least 2,000 hours or for a year. 

You may need to pass a qualitative and quantitative evaluation to get certified. You will be required to renew your certificate every five years. 

Other holistic nursing certification programs to consider include:

The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) – an organization aimed at supporting practicing holistic nurses and supporting different initiatives associated with holistic nursing.

Integrative Healing Arts Program (IHAP) – a retreat for holistic nurses focussed on honing the abilities of the nurses and exposing them to new treatment approaches.

The Canadian Holistic Nurses Association (CHNA) – a group for Canadian holistic nurses.

Start Your Journey Towards Becoming a Holistic Nurse

Go beyond the mere management of symptoms into a more comprehensive and satisfying role of integrative care. At the Nurse Coach Collective, we offer exceptional continuing education for nurses to help you earn your Holistic Nursing Certification.

With our help, you can soon become eligible to practice as a skilled certified holistic nurse. Apply now!