"Holistic" - What does this mean to you?

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    We hear the term "holistic" all the time, but what does this actually mean? Is this quality important or even worth trying to achieve? Is it relevant at all to the often harsh, tumultuous reality of modern bedside nursing or just another fancy buzzword?

    Merriam Webster defines holistic as "relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts <holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body> <holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system>"

    Another definition: "Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts."

    And yet another definition: "A wide-reaching term, designating views in which the individual elements of a system are determined by their relations to all other elements of that system. Being highly relational, holistic theories do not see the sum of the parts as adding up to the whole. In addition to the individual parts of a system, there are "emergent," or "arising," properties that add to or transform the individual parts. As such, holistic theories claim that no element of a system can exist apart from the system in which it is a part."

    Just curious - What's your personal definition of holistic? And, more importantly, are you able to incorporate these principles or values day-to-day in your nursing practice?
    Last edit by VickyRN on Dec 29, '06

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  2. 14 Comments...

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    OK, I'll be first to bite. Holistic to me means addressing the WHOLE patient - spirit, soul, and body. I believe we are primarily spiritual beings, with a soul (will, intellect, emotions), housed in this marvelous human body. All three areas must be addressed when patients present with health problems or health-seeking behaviors.

    And yes, this is important. I attempt to incorporate holism at the bedside as time and circumstances permit. For instance, if a patient is afraid or anxious, and asks me to pray for him or her, I will do so (usually a short, simple but heart-felt prayer).

    Any other takers?
    Templedoll likes this.
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    Excellent question. As a second semster student im still coming to understanding of what holistic means. Will be watching this thread as I formulate my definition.

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    I guess this holistic thing, while never really defined in my mind, has always been there. I try my best to recognize subtle signs of anxiety or depression and spend a few more minutes with my patients. When I worked long-term actute, I tried to implement services we had to address mental or spiritual issues (clergy, social services, etc).

    I always kind of thought the opposite of holistic nursing was focusing ONLY on the presenting dx and specific physical sequelae - without addressing the total HUMAN BEING in the bed.

    Not an expert on holistic nursing by any means. If it includes "altered energy fields" I can say I've never done that.

    Just MHO.
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    Holistic nursing is a term used for the bit that is always missed as assessment of a pts condition is partly subjective
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    Holism to me addresses the body/mind/spirit/emotion of the person, animal that is seeking care. I believe that I practice this & have always practiced this. It is difficult to do to realm of what I would like & see fit to be practiced due to the culture of my residence. But it is ever evolving & time will help with the attitudes of some of the masses. Education of the nurses & consumers will make the changes come in their own time. My two specialties, cardiac/vascular & Healing Touch along with my license in Massage Therapy & Bodywork allow me to bring together the clients I enjoy working with (cardiac & post anesthesia) with therapies that can heal them. I like to educate the clients about choices of integrative therapies they may benefit them. This to me is the basis of nursing.
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    To me, holistic nursing is not only taking care of the whole patient, but also their support system or family.

    To meet the patients holistic needs the family plays an important role in that as well, so I always try to include some of the families needs in that as well.
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    I agree with CardioTrans! Family (whatever the patient's definition of family is) is so vital to health/healing of the client.
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    holistic is a very nice term with many meanings, unfortunately less used day by day. why? because can't be measurable, holistic nursing care actions are hard quantifiable, so is hard to asses or implement and evaluate something that is not easy measurable (how you can measure soul and spirit cure? :spin: )
  11. 0
    I tend to agree with zuzi holistic nursing has more to do with theory than practical nursing. It is a concept best left to academics let us see if this theory does have legs in the end.

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