Holistic nurses and traditional nurses have many similarities as well as differences. Both types of nurses are formally trained and licensed in standards of care and nursing practice. Both can perform bedside care and tasks within their appropriate scope (i.e., RN or LPN). Passing medications, wound care, assessments, developing a care plan, and evaluating treatment responses are tasks that both traditional and holistic nurses can perform.

RELATED: RN vs LPN

However, holistic nurses are typically board-certified in holistic medicine. They bring elements of the mind-body-spirit approach to traditional bedside nursing. They view the patient as a whole, meaning that all elements contribute to the overall health and well-being of a patient. For example, patients with chronic pain may be treated with traditional approaches such as medications, physical therapy, and exercise. However, a holistic nurse may assess psychosocial status, social support, and employ treatments such as acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy, and herbal medicines.

Not only can holistic treatments be used, but holistic nurses can utilize therapeutic communication to improve health and reduce stress. This is critical when it comes to patients dealing with illness as well as coping with day-to-day stressors.

RELATED: What is Integrative Healthcare?

Nurses are all trained, to some extent, to treat patients holistically. However, formally trained holistic nurses take the concept to the next level. Many traditional nurses are constrained by what their organization's standards of care dictate, but holistic nurses working in an alternative medicine clinic can expand treatments to include holistic medicine.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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