Date Published: 27 December 2010

Holistic Nursing Degrees

Holistic nursing degrees have been a topic of recent discussion among holistic practitioners and others in touch with IvyRose.

A common question is: "Where can I find out about holistic nursing degrees, colleges and universities that offer such courses, and opportunities for career progression with the qualification(s) that result ?"

Obviously that is a simplification and generalization of the questions asked about holistic nursing degrees. Specific answers about courses, costs and qualifications depend on geographic location. Hopefully most potential students of holistic nursing degrees begin by satisfying themselves about some more general key issues, including:

What do I understand by "holistic nursing degrees" and is my expectation likely to be met by any courses available at colleges or universities that I could reasonably expect to attend - in terms of academic entry requirements, costs, location, etc..

What do I understand by "holistic nursing degrees" and is my expectation likely to be met by any courses available at colleges or universities that I could reasonably expect to attend - in terms of academic entry requirements, costs, location, etc..

Here are some specific issues to consider:

  1. What is the difference between an ordinary nursing degree and a "holistic" nursing degree - in all the key areas, such as academic content, practical experience, overall duration of course, cost of course, qualification(s) at the end of the course, entry requirements, career progression of recent graduates ?
  2. Why are you interested in holistic nursing ?
    Put another way, which aspect appeals to you most, "holistic healthcare", or "nursing".
  3. What do you personally understand by the term "holistic" ?
    This is a really important question regardless of your answers to the others. We'll return to it in the discussion below but do bear in mind from the outset that this is an obvious interview question for candidates applying for places on holistic nursing degrees. However, your personal answer may be even more important to you - guiding you in any of various possible career and lifestyle directions.

These questions are obvious starting points for anyone considering holistic nursing degrees as a method of career progression. We can't emphasize strongly enough that you must be guided by your own thoughts, conscience and spiritual direction when making such important career decisions. As part of the process of reaching your own conclusions about what is right and wrong - both in terms of your career and about healthcare in general, it can help to read a wide range of articles to find out about different perspectives, points of view, and what has proved successful for others.

Some of the views mentioned below are controversial and may even be provocative. This is intentional.
Sometimes it is only by considering views applied totally, sincerely, some might say "to extremes", that one really considers all aspects and implications of them - rather than giving oneself the "easy way out" of just saying that all perspectives are welcome "in moderation". All too often the word "holistic" is used to imply anything so general and all-inclusive that it ceases to have meaning at all. We'll take that as the first topic and comment on some possible aspects of holistic nursing degrees in the sections that follow:

What do you mean by the word "holistic" in the context of health ?

The word "holistic" means, or implies, different things to different people.
Consider the interpretations listed below and their implications for holistic nursing degrees:

 
"Soft" general interpretations
More specific/radical interpretations
 
  • inclusive of all approaches
  • equal emphasis on modern medical vs. more "natural" approaches
  • "complementary", i.e. standard Western Medicine but with some "nice bits" such as massage or reflexology as extras - if/when the conventional physicians permit.
  • includes gentle enjoyable treatments such as head massages, foot massages, pedicures etc. as at spas at holiday destinations.
  • less "professional"
  • less "scientific"
  • less likely to result in a complete cure
  • really just makes very "bad" things slightly less "bad", e.g. as often found in hospices
  • more likely to appeal to women than to men
  • involves "weird" spiritual practices such as meditation
  • only involves "natural" products
  • does not involve any pharmaceutical drugs
  • does not involve any drugs at all (legal or illegal, not even alcohol or caffeine)
  • excludes all modern medical techniques incl. tests, as well as drugs
  • alternative, i.e. there are many options available for the person requesting help to select from; conventional medicine may or may not be one of the options but if present it has no higher status than others
  • makes it sound like the patient has more control but ultimately medical professionals always make all the decisions in hospitals
  • includes religious options such as blessings or faith healing
"Soft" general interpretations:
  • inclusive of all approaches
  • equal emphasis on modern medical vs. more "natural" approaches
  • "complementary", i.e. standard Western Medicine but with some "nice bits" such as massage or reflexology as extras - if/when the conventional physicians permit.
  • includes gentle enjoyable treatments such as head massages, foot massages, pedicures etc. as at spas at holiday destinations.
  • less "professional"
  • less "scientific"
  • less likely to result in a complete cure
  • really just makes very "bad" things slightly less "bad", e.g. as often found in hospices
  • more likely to appeal to women than to men
More specific/radical interpretations:
  • involves "weird" spiritual practices such as meditation
  • only involves "natural" products
  • does not involve any pharmaceutical drugs
  • does not involve any drugs at all (legal or illegal, not even alcohol or caffeine)
  • excludes all modern medical techniques incl. tests, as well as drugs
  • alternative, i.e. there are many options available for the person requesting help to select from; conventional medicine may or may not be one of the options but if present it has no higher status than others
  • makes it sound like the patient has more control but ultimately medical professionals always make all the decisions in hospitals
  • includes religious options such as blessings or faith healing

These are, of course, just examples of attitudes - some would say "predjudices" - loosely divided into two categories and intended to be somewhat provocative in both cases! The purpose is not to say which, if any, are right/wrong.

The question is: How do you, as a potential student of a holistic nursing degrees, view the term "holistic" ?

Which of the above do you agree/disagree with and can you do so in a constructive way ? If you pursue a career in holistic nursing you may be asked to discuss or respond to some, or all, of the above at one time or another.

To many people "nursing" implies "part of the mainstream conventional western medical system", whereas "holistic" may mean any of the above but is often loosely understood to sit "outside the mainstream conventional western medical system".


If you feel strongly that healthcare should be "holistic" (whatever, precisely, that means to you) ...

Why do you want to be a nurse as opposed to a fully qualified holistic practitioner of some sort ?

Your honest answer to this question is extremely revealing so you may choose to consider it in private initially.

One issue is that, in most cases, nursing is a totally conventional career.

In many countries it requires standard minimum, regulated, qualifications and is considered a very "safe" career option. In the UK among other countries, a recognised qualification in nursing may lead to a career in the public sector working in a largely unionised workforce with clearly laid-out career progression followed by a pension on retirement. That stands in stark contrast to the employment, career, and earning model of many holistic practitioners. It is difficult to compare nursing with holistic practice generally because there are so many different types of holistic practitioners, such as massage therapists, reflexologists, homeopaths, osteopaths and many others - trained, regulated, and constrained (or not) in different ways in different locations around the world.

An interest in holistic nursing degrees implies at least some level of sympathy for a softer, more natural, and possibly faith-based approach to healthcare than standard modern western medicine is generally thought to provide. It also implies a tendency towards support roles or functions - hence interest in nursing degrees rather than medical degrees. Bear in mind that studying for any degree is likely to involve a substantial amount of money and many years of time. If your reason for interest in holistic nursing degrees is in order to become a conventional nurse and perhaps also study some therapies on the side you may find it more effective to take a standard course in nursing and also courses in the therapies that interest you. The combination of skills and qualifications that result may serve you well. However, if you are most interested in a career in holistic medicine and you are willing to invest the time and expense in studying for a degree you might also want to consider degree courses in homeopathy, osteopathy or similar.


If you really want to work in a supporting role assisting recovery from injuries or medical conditions without working within the conventional medical system i.e. using or supporting the use of invasive tests, drugs, surgery etc. to do so, you will probably be looking for opportunities outside of conventional medicine.

Career opportunities supporting non-medical healthcare

In most modern countries the role of nurses, especially but not only in hospitals, includes many tasks directed by medical professionals such as the distribution and/or application of prescription drugs. If, mindful of side-effects and other issues (e.g. costs, ethics, experimentation on animals, etc.), your personal preference is not to work within such a system you may wonder what other options are available. These will depend on your personal value-judgments, religious or spiritual views, and perhaps also your willingness to work outside of a large organisation, possibly even being self-employed.

Options may include:

  • Working as a holistic practitioner - choose the therapies/techniques that suit you and promote them to individuals and/or businesses as appropriate, e.g. Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Reiki, etc.
  • Working with animals rather than people. E.g. if you have less objection to the use of drugs for the benefit of e.g. pets or wildlife.
  • Working as a carer or in administration - if you are willing to work within an organisation that uses conventional techniques provided that you are not applying them yourself.
  • Support roles within specific traditions or faith organisations, e.g. Christian Science nursing.

 

If you are committed to finding, following, and succeeding in holistic nursing degrees we wish you the very best for a successful and satisfying career. Most people we have heard express views about the meaning of "holistic healthcare" understand the term to at least imply care and concern for more than just injuries or medical conditions but also to include wider aspects of the person's experience, often including the mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of their situation. We are unable to offer information or advice about specific holistic nursing degrees but welcome brief comments incl. any visitor recommendations in the comments area on this page. [from holistic nursing degrees to more holistic articles ...]

Source: IvyRose Holistic Article.

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