Day in the Life of a Holistic Nurse Practitioner

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By Maura Deering



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Table of Contents
What Is a Holistic Nurse Practitioner?
Frequently Asked Questions About Holistic Nurse Practitioners
Becoming a Holistic Nurse Practitioner
A Day In the Life of a Holistic Nurse Practitioner

What Is a Holistic Nurse Practitioner?

Holistic nurse practitioners (NPs) take a comprehensive approach to healthcare, incorporating mindfulness, traditional medicine, and preventative techniques, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, massage, and stress management.

These nurses perform many of the same duties as other NPs, including administering medication, developing care plans, and treating wounds and illnesses.

Holistic NPs may use naturopathic medicine, which focuses on disease prevention, and functional medicine, which addresses root causes of disease. Holistic NP practice may include integrative health as part of a mind-body approach. Most holistic NPs work in private practice, at birthing centers, and at a patient's home. A smaller percentage work in hospitals. The projected job growth for NPs of 26% far outpaces the national average of all occupations through 2028. NPs can expect to earn a median annual salary of $107,030.

Holistic NP students can earn their advanced degrees with a holistic nursing concentration and a focus on a specific patient population or practice modality. Once they complete their training, holistic NPs apply for certification as advanced practice holistic nurses. The credential requires a current RN license, professional experience, and continuing education hours. Visit this website for information on holistic NP training programs.


Frequently Asked Questions About Holistic Nurse Practitioners

What do holistic nurses do?

Using both Eastern and Western medicine, holistic NPs treat disease in addition to the patient's emotional, mental, and spiritual conditions to facilitate recovery and health maintenance. Along with traditional approaches, holistic NPs offer alternative methods, such as acupressure, healing touch, herbal therapy, and nutrition counseling.

What degree do I need to be a holistic nurse practitioner?

The typical path to a holistic nurse practitioner career starts with a nursing degree that can lead to RN licensure -- an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). To become an NP, RNs continue their studies in a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program.

Where can a holistic nurse work?

Holistic NPs work in patient's homes and private practice. They also find positions at birthing centers, integrative health facilities, and outpatient clinics. The workplace can depend on the type(s) of therapy the NP focuses on, such as body-, mind-, biology-, or energy-based, and/or the patient population (neonatal, geriatric, family).

How much do holistic nurse practitioners make?

Nationally, NPs earn a median annual salary of $107,030. Personal care services ranks as the top-paying industry, offering a mean wage of $139,770. California NPs earn the highest mean wage at $133,780, followed by those in Alaska, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, who earn mean salaries above $122,000.


Becoming a Holistic Nurse Practitioner

Education Requirements

NPs need an MSN degree, at minimum. Most nurses earn a BSN as a prerequisite to their graduate studies. Some, however, obtain their RN licenses after graduating from an ADN program, and then enter an MSN program. Often, the pathway depends on program requirements and whether a student wants to gain experience as an RN before starting graduate school. A typical MSN program spans 18-24 months. Some nurses opt for a doctoral degree instead of a master's, which adds 2-3 years of classroom time.

Prospective and current NPs can focus on a particular patient population, such as family practice, pediatrics, women's health, neonatal, gerontology, or psychiatric nursing. While traditional NP training covers conventional Western medicine, holistic NPs explore additional alternative specialization areas:

  • Body-based and manipulative practices, including acupressure, acupuncture, massage, and movement therapy
  • Biological-based practices, including herbal therapy and nutrition
  • Energy-based practices, including reiki and other healing touch therapies
  • Mind-body practices, including hypnosis and meditation

Training and Certification

Every state requires NPs to hold an MSN degree or higher and a valid RN license. While each state licensing board imposes its own licensing criteria for RNs, most require at least an ADN from an accredited college or university and a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination. Following their master's or doctoral training, NPs may obtain their state advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) license.

Holistic NPs pursue national certification from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation. This credential increases professional credibility and promotes career advancement.

Applicants take the Advanced Practice Holistic Nursing - Board Certified exam. Requirements for the credential consist of a graduate degree, a current APRN state license, 40 hours of continuing holistic NP education, and 2,000 hours or one full-time year of holistic nursing experience that includes 500 hours at the APRN level. Candidates schedule with and report to a testing site for the computer-based exam.


A Day In the Life of a Holistic Nurse Practitioner

Work Environments

Holistic NPs work in the same environments and industries as other NPs, serving patients in clinics, educational institutions, hospice care, hospitals, medical centers, and private practices. They also find opportunities in alternative medicine-focused settings, such as acupuncturists' and chiropractors' offices, holistic health clinics, and naturopathic practices.

Specializations and patient populations can influence where holistic NPs practice. For example, nurses who focus on caring for older adults may choose employment in hospice care, at residential nursing facilities, or at patients' homes. Massage or movement therapy specialists might seek positions at chiropractic or physical therapy centers or at sports medicine facilities.

Roles and Duties of a Holistic Nurse

Because they incorporate Western, as well as Eastern, medicine into their practices, holistic NPs perform many of the same duties as conventional NPs. All NPs assess patients, diagnose illnesses, treat diseases and conditions, advise patients, prescribe medication, and update patient charts. NPs in all specialties need strong communication and listening skills, empathy, mental and physical endurance, patient advocacy, positivity, and problem-solving skills.

The main difference in holistic NP work lies in the addition of alternative mind-body therapies and approaches. Rather than a specific skill set, however, holistic nursing centers on a philosophy that can help patients in a variety of healthcare settings and environments.


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