Transition to Holistic Nursing-MSN or certification?

  1. I have my BSN and have been practicing Med/Surg since 1999. It's time for a change!!! However, I am unsure what the best route would be to transition to Holistic Nursing. Should I get a Masters in Holistic Nursing (via Tenn State Univ) or get certifications in the areas I'm interested in (Craniosacral Therapy, Accupressure, Healing Touch). My professional goal is to work in an Integrative Medicine clinic providing the above services that I would be certified in. To be quite frank, I don't want to accumulate large debt from grad school if I can get the same professional position by obtaining certifications instead. Any insights, opinions, experiences, recommendations, etc. would be greatly appreciated. BTW, I have looked at the AHNA website, so I am aware of the certification programs.


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    About curly76, MSN

    Joined: Aug '03; Posts: 3
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience


  3. by   tarakRN
    Hi Denise, I have a very similar question. I've only been an RN for 2 years (ER) but am burnt out on the allopathic/hospital approach to health. I am ready to go back for my Master's Degree but am unsure which would be best to incorporate other healing modalities (I'm in a 3-year long energy healing school). Some people say psych-mental health because it gives you the ability to practice psychotherapy, but then there are also the holistic NP programs....or just regular NP programs and you can get your AHNA certification....I don't know which route to go. Maybe someone has an answer for us?
  4. by   NYLady
    Unfortunately, no one can give you an answer that will be right for you but perhaps we can provide additional food for thought.

    1. If you don't have a Master's degree and want to get one...get it in Nursing...I got mine at Columbia University School of Public Health (MPH) which is very prestigious but it didn't (and doesn't) do anything to get me a teaching position at any level in nursing or to be eligible for some of the higher level nursing jobs that require a Masters in Nursing. But, you don't need a Master's degree to practice Holistic Nursing or to practice alternative medicine therapies.

    2. I went to a certificate program (The BirchTree Center for Healthcare Transformation) which I HIGHLY recommend. You must be an RN to be eligible for the program. It takes 1 year to complete in 4 distinct "sessions" of 4 days each. I cannot recommend it highly enough as it is truly awesome. When you graduate from the program you are not only eligible to sit for the Holistic Nursing Certification offered by AHNA but you are prepared for it. I graduated in November 2009 and was certified in March 2010. The teachers, Veda Andrus and Marie Shanahan, are two of the most notable nurses in the field of Holistic Nursing today.

    3. No program in Holistic Nursing (neither Masters in Nursing nor certificate program) will prepare you to practice the specific therapies (Aroma Therapy, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, Yoga, Laugh Yoga, Tai Chi, Reflexology, Music Therapy, Nutrition Therapy, etc) without additional training. You will still need to take a course in your chosen "therapy".

    4. No specific therapy program wil prepare you to be certified in Holistic Nursing. If you wish to be certified in the specialty Holistic Nursing, you will still need a certificate or Masters program that specializes in teaching Holistic Nursing.

    5. If your goal is to work in an Alternative Medicine clinic it is more likely you will be hired if you have a specific therapy to offer. Holistic nursing is to be practiced wherever a nurse is practicing - in the hospital, clinic, ER, OR, critical care, Labor/Delivery, Med/Surg floor, procedure labs, Alternative Medicine centers or independent practice.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edit by NYLady on Feb 20, '11
  5. by   mtsteelhorse
    Any thoughts as to the future in holistic nursing???? Interesting post. Thank you inadvance!
  6. by   NYLady
    I believe Holistic Nursing is just starting to take off as a specialty and that we will be seeing and hearing alot more about it in the next few years.

    The BirchTree Center for Healthcare Transformation is where I studied. They provide a one-day session at your hospital if 15 or so nurses can be gathered to attend. I don't think it is very expensive although I don't know what they charge.
    Check out their Web site at:
  7. by   Rascal1
    Interesting. You said you attended their program. You don't remember what you spent and was it held in Mass. ?

    I'm very interested in checking it out. Thanks.
  8. by   NYLady
    Quote from Rascal1
    Interesting. You said you attended their program. You don't remember what you spent and was it held in Mass. ?

    I'm very interested in checking it out. Thanks.
    I attended their certification program which is one year in length. One can choose to attend sessions in New Jersey or Mass and I went to all my classes in New Jersey. I do know how much I paid.

    What I don't know is how much they charge for the 1-day program. The charge is not to the nurses but to the hospital that sponsors the program. The Nursing Department of the hospital will sponsor it and pay the fee and The BirchTree Center instructors will come to your hospital to deliver the one day seminar. If you can gather 15-20 nurses and approach your Nursing Department, perhaps your Nursing Department will sponsor the one-day Seminar at your hospital.
  9. by   Rascal1
    Thanks for the inf. Wish I could gather like minded nurses for a program like that ! !
  10. by   NYLady
    Quote from Rascal1
    Thanks for the inf. Wish I could gather like minded nurses for a program like that ! !
    One of the nurses in my certification program is a nursing instructor at her hospital and she was able to arrange for the nursing department to sponsor the event where she works. She said the 1-day Seminar was a total success. Given the quality of the nurses who give the program (Veda Andrus and Marie Shanahan) I can well believe it!

    I tried to get nurses interested at my hospital and just couldn't get anything going...pity...sometimes people are just not ready.