Holistic healthcare has garnered a poor reputation in recent years. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should overlook the importance of holistic care altogether. You may even find that this approach can empower patients and improve health outcomes, as holistic healthcare often places increased importance on people’s emotional, social, and physical health.
That said, you should still utilize critical thinking skills to sort useful information from potentially erroneous treatments. This preserves your professional integrity and ensures that patients get the support they actually need.
Broadly speaking, holistic healthcare is defined by the Institute for Holistic Health Studies as an approach to life that accounts for all areas of wellness. Folks who use this comprehensive method try to account for the patient’s emotional, social, mental, and physical well-being. Many of the treatments associated with holistic healthcare find their roots in ancient healing traditions and are designed to help folks make lifestyle changes.
Adopting a more comprehensive approach can round out your resume and help you find a fulfilling career path. For example, if you’re a nurse, you may want to consider holistic nursing which is practiced by RNs who are accredited by boards like the American Holistic Nurses Association. Training as a comprehensive nurse will help you utilize the Western approach alongside treatment options like:
- Therapeutic massage;
Becoming a holistic nurse requires plenty of further training, as you’ll need to learn sophisticated skills that are supported by a body of evidence. This is key, as you need to parse useful treatments from dishonest practices. A robust approach to training and education ensures that you’re able to understand the needs of the whole patient and are well-equipped to utilize a range of modalities from traditions and cultures that may not be your own.
Understanding the Patient
Open-minded healthcare helps you get a better understanding of your patients as people. This is key, as you’ll need to take in a range of factors like emotional state and belief systems if you want to treat your patients like people.
Start by educating yourself. Learn more about forgotten populations and aim to understand the gender gap in healthcare. Educating yourself ensures that you’re able to read between the lines when folks come looking for help and won’t inadvertently misdiagnose folks from marginalized populations.
If you do decide to pursue further training as a holistic medical professional, check that the courses you enroll in are properly accredited. Any education opportunities that you pursue should be approved by your state board, too. Many career paths, like becoming an acupuncturist, require accreditation and a Master’s degree as a minimum
You can also find support in the form of books and lectures. For example, if the idea of mindful healthcare appeals to you, you may want to explore the work of Dr. Ronald Epstein. Dr. Epstein advocates for the idea that healthcare providers should use mindfulness on themselves to improve their communication skills. This approach can help you build rapport with patients and navigate challenging topics. That said, you will still need to exercise caution when diving into the world of holistic healthcare to avoid choosing unproven, ineffective treatments.
Critical thinking is key when diving into the world of medicine and alternative treatment. Taking a step back to assess the efficacy of potential treatments can help you better understand the purpose of comprehensive healthcare and minimize your risk of misdiagnosis.
Critical thinking is a crucial skill for nurses, too. Being able to properly identify and evaluate patients’ problems ensures that you’re able to leverage a biomedical approach in conjunction with holistic care. If you’re ever unsure of the best path forward, slow down and reconsider the Institute of Medicine’s hallmarks of quality healthcare, including:
- Safe: Any treatment plan you prescribe should not cause further harm.
- Effective: Treatment should make adequate use of effective methods.
- Patient-Centered: A patient’s needs should always be prioritized over your own professional interests.
- Timely: Quality care can speed up treatment and minimize wait times.
- Efficient: Your treatment plan should make good use of resources without causing unnecessary waste or expense.
- Equitable: You should be able to offer the same quality of care regardless of demographic factors.
Referring to these hallmarks of quality care can help you engage patients in their care and provide a more personal, human touch. This is key as many folks feel disenfranchised when they enter the doctor’s office. If you do utilize holistic healthcare methods, be sure to check in regularly for updates, as many holistic plans require long-term lifestyle changes to improve patients’ overall health and well-being.
Taking an open-minded approach to healthcare can help you build rapport with patients and uncover effective treatment strategies. However, you’ll need to exercise critical thinking and caution when pursuing alternative treatment training. Be sure to work with accredited providers and work to blend the biomedical approach with holistic treatments. This foregrounds patients’ needs and ensures that you can pursue career paths that are meaningful to you.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.