There has never been a better time to become a holistic nurse practitioner. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of all nurse practitioners (NPs) to grow by 52% from 2019-2029.
Earning an optional holistic nursing certification from American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (ANHCC) can improve your competitiveness in the job market.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of all nurse practitioners (NPs) to grow by 52% from 2019-2029.
This guide explores the benefits of becoming a certified holistic nurse and covers the step-by-step process of earning your APHN-BC credential.
Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse Certification
Holistic nursing is a formal nursing specialization recognized by the American Nursing Association. It is also a nursing philosophy that encourages approaching patient care from a complementary, integrative perspective.
The AHNCC developed and implemented the first holistic nursing certification program in 1997. Today, the organization offers the APHN-BC credential, along with five additional certifications for holistic nursing professionals:
- NC-BC: Basic holistic nursing certification for professionals without bachelor’s degrees; 328 active certificants
- HNB-BC: Basic holistic nursing certification for professionals with bachelor’s degrees; 734 active certificants
- AHN-BC: Advanced holistic nursing certification for professionals with graduate degrees; 352 active certificants
- APHN-BC: Advanced holistic nursing certification for professionals with graduate degrees and prescriptive authority; 80 active certificants
- HWNC-BC: Health and wellness nursing coach certification, awarded to nurses who also hold holistic nursing certification; 193 active certificants
- HN-BC: Nurse coaching certification, awarded to nurses who do not hold holistic nursing certification; 711 active certificants
The APHN-BC credential signals proficiency in holistic care processes, patient communication, cultural diversity, and education and research.
Though not required to obtain a holistic nursing job, becoming certified can improve your employment prospects in this specialty. The APHN-BC credential signals proficiency in holistic care processes, patient communication, cultural diversity, and education and research.
Below, we review APHN-BC exam contents, cost, test preparation tips, and certification renewal guidelines.
American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation
Cost: $75-$125 qualification application fee; $395-$450 exam application fee
Requirements: Current advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) license, master’s degree in nursing, 2,000 hours or one year of full-time nursing experience within the last five years, minimum of 500 hours of advanced practice, 48 continuing education hours in holistic nursing theory or related topics
Renewal Cycle: Five years
What Do I Need for an APHN Certification?
Before earning APHN-BC certification, candidates must meet the following eligibility requirements set by AHNCC:
- Licensure: Current, unrestricted U.S. APRN license
- Education: Completion of a nationally accredited graduate nursing program
- Experience: At least 2,000 hours or one year of full-time holistic nursing practice experience within the last five years; at least 500 hours at the advanced practice level
- Continuing Education: At least 48 CNE hours in holistic nursing theory, research, practice, or related topics
Though not strictly necessary, aspiring holistic nurses may want to fulfill their education requirements by attending an AHNCC-endorsed program. These programs maintain curriculums in alignment with the holistic nursing philosophy, theory, and concepts in the AHNA Scope and Standards of Holistic Nursing Practice.
To apply for certification eligibility, each candidate must pay a fee: $75 for endorsed school program graduates; $100 for AHNA, Faith Based Community Nurses Association (FBCN), or Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) members; and $125 for regular applicants.
Additional examination fees also apply. Costs include $395 for graduates of endorsed programs; $420 for AHNA, FBCN, or NOVA members; and $450 for regular applicants.
Holistic Nurse Practitioner Programs
How Do I Prepare for the APHN-BC Exam?
The APHN-BC examination includes a maximum of 250 multiple-choice, single-answer questions. Exam areas are weighted as follows:
- Holistic philosophy, theories, and ethics: 12%
- Holistic nurse self-reflection, self-development, and self-care: 3%
- Holistic caring process: 43%
- Holistic communication, therapeutic relationships, healing environments, and cultural care: 25%
- Holistic education and research: 17%
When preparing for the exam, AHNCC suggests candidates review the Core Essentials for Advanced Holistic Nursing and the third edition of Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice.
AHNCC also offers online practice examinations for its certifications, including APHN-BC. These practice tests use the same computer-based formatting as the certification exam and comprise 50 questions. A candidate pays $65 for the practice test and receives an immediate score report indicating their performance in each content area.
Candidates should begin preparing as early as possible. You can retake the APHN-BC exam at a reduced cost within 12 months of your initial examination date.
Renewing and Maintaining APHN Certification
APHN-BC certification remains valid for five years. To maintain valid APHN-BC certification, each applicant must submit a valid renewal application and a $345-$375 fee 60 days before their certification’s expiration date. Candidates can download renewal applications from the AHNCC website.
To qualify for APHN-BC recertification, an applicant must:
- Hold an active, unrestricted nursing license.
- Maintain active involvement in holistic nursing.
- Demonstrate completion of 100 contact hours of continuing or professional education.
- Write and submit two sets of questions and answers that AHNCC may include in their certification exams.
Certificants who cannot meet certification requirements can request an inactive status rather than recertification. However, certificants can only use this status once in their career, for no more than three years.
To reactivate an expired certification, an individual must pay a $100 reactivation fee no later than two years after expiration.
Resources for Certified Holistic Nurse Practitioners
Learn about the the roles, job duties, and work environments.
A Day in the Life of a Holistic Nurse Practitioner
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an advanced practice holistic nurse?
Advanced practice holistic nurses are APRNs who specialize in holistic patient care. They work in many healthcare settings, including hospitals, private practices, and universities. Holistic APRNs may pursue optional APHN-BC certification from AHNCC.
How do I become a certified holistic nurse?
To become a certified holistic nurse, an individual must meet specific eligibility requirements set by the AHNCC and pass an examination. Candidates can consider six types of certification: HN-BC, HNB-BC, AHN-BC, NC-BC, HWNC-BC, and APHN-BC.
Is the holistic nursing certification exam hard?
Experts develop, review, and revise AHNCC’s holistic nursing certification examinations. Test-takers should carefully review exam competencies and take advantage of study materials like practice exams.
Can I pursue holistic nurse practitioner certification online?
AHNCC offers online resources and online practice tests, but test-takers must complete the official certification examination in person. Candidates can choose from hundreds of computer-based testing sites across the U.S. and Canada.
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