Holistic Nursing, as opposed to...

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    'Holistic' Nursing is a term that seems redundant to me, sort of like saying 'invasive open heart surgery' or 'technical engineering' or 'basic fundamentals'. I had always thought that considering all aspects of the patient; physical (all systems), emotional, social, economic, etc was a basic concept of Nursing in general, but I'm discovering maybe I was wrong. Maybe it's just where I went to school and the area I live (which is sort of crunchy) that believes holistic care is part of nursing by it's basic definition. But I had a family member the other day who made me question that. After I turned on the radio in his room overnight to try and get him to settle down, the patient's daughter said "Oh, so you're a holistic nurse, that's great, are you certified?" My first thought was "certififed at what? Certified to turn on a radio?"

    So I looked into it and I'm ashamed to admit I had no idea Holistic Nursing was considered a subset of Nursing, or that there was a "Holistic Nurses Association". This makes no sense to me. Is there an "Assessment Nurses Association"? Of course there isn't, assessment is an integral part of Nursing care, just as viewing the patient as a complex, interconnected group of factors that determine their overall health is an integral part of Nursing care. Pretty much every theory, tool, and philosophy we use in nursing is to help us see patients holistically, from Maslow to Orem to Nightengale. One review of all nursing theories summed up nursing with this: "Nursing is concerned with the whole person", i.e. Nursing is holistic.

    My first thought was that this was all due to a malaprop, or as Mr. Montoya put it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk The term Holistic has been misused by the general public as a euphemism for homeopathic, naturopathic, complimentary medicine, integrated medicine, etc. which is completely false. Naturopaths, homeopaths, etc tend to be ardent supporters of viewing patients holistically, but they are not the same thing. You can view a patient holistically without wanting to replace all their medications with things you found growing by the side of the road on the way to work, or wanting to dilute all their medications until nothing but water is left. I would have been relieved if this was all just based on a poor understanding of the English language, but looking at Holistic Nursing resources I realized it really is about what seems to be a bad understanding of what Nursing is, at least based on my Nursing education and experience. From one site for instance: “Holistic nursing entails any nursing care that has treating the whole person as its goal, Holism looks at all aspects of the person—physical, spiritual, emotional, social and the patient’s family and overall environment. You aren’t just treating the appendix, but treating everything in the patient’s life that appendicitis might impact. It is a gentler way to treat a patient.”

    That pretty much sums up what I was taught Nursing is, not just nursing for those who choose to specialize in "holistic nursing". So my question is, is this really not a part of Nursing in general? Did I just happen to go to school and then work in places that focused on Holistic Nursing and everyplace else Nurses don't view patients as an interconnected set of factors?
    Nola009 likes this.
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  4. 5 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    Quote from MunoRN
    You can view a patient holistically without wanting to replace all their medications with things you found growing by the side of the road on the way to work, or wanting to dilute all their medications until nothing but water is left.

    I agree with your views of holistic nursing, but I lost a little bit of respect for your post with this statement.
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    I do agree that many people use the term holistic when what they mean is homeopathic. They are two different things.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
  7. 0
    Are you perchance a Humboldt State Grad? HSU represent!
  8. 0
    Quote from GM2RN
    I agree with your views of holistic nursing, but I lost a little bit of respect for your post with this statement.
    Personally I actually believe there is some potential merit in naturopathy, some of our most effective medications are essentially nothing more than 'plants growing by the side of the road' (digoxin, warfarin). And while homeopathy would seem to have no scientific basis and should be easy to disprove, true homeopathy (not the piles of junk science that get thrown in with homeopathy) is one of the great scientific mysteries of our time in that it there are some aspects of it that seem to work and we don't know why.

    But for many people, both practitioners and patients, any hint of naturopathy and homeopathy is a turn-off and would describe it in the same negative terms as I did in my post. My point being that even if you view these two negatively and therefore would describe them in a negative light as I did, that doesn't mean you can't treat (and be treated) as a whole person. Lumping naturopathy, homeopathy, and every other less than scientific modality in with holism is not only ignorant, it does holistic care a huge disservice.
    Last edit by MunoRN on Jun 6, '11
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    I hate that the word Holistic was taken by the alternative medicine crowd. Homeopathy has been shown time and time again to work no better than a placebo, and since it isn't regulated at all, we actually have to wait for someone to get sick before the product is recalled. (for example in the case where it turns out it just wasn't a sugar pill they included the ingredient in too high a dose, search for belladonna and homeopathy)

    If you believe in evidenced-based medicine (germ theory for example!) you must reject homeopathy. herbal is one thing, homeopathy is something completely different.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.


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