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Holistic nursing course appeals to nurses at all levels

Back by popular demand, a six-week course entitled "Enhancing Practice Through Holistic Nursing" will be offered on the Minneapolis campus of St. Catherine University this spring.

The course, presented for the first time in the fall of 2010, gives registered nurses (RN) an opportunity to study holistic health. It is offered in the evenings in order to accommodate working nurses and came about via a partnership among the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC), the Fairview/University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital (UMACH) Integrative Health and Healing Program, and the Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies Program within the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University.

Carol Schoenecker, RN, BSN, HNB-BC, CHTP/I, an integrated therapy coordinator at UMMC, Fairview/UMACH, says the course evolved from discussions between leaders in the holistic health field.

“We wanted to do something on what it means to be a holistic nurse,” says Schoenecker. “If some of the nurses were able to pick up the concepts of holistic nursing, they would be more knowledgeable and they would be able to bring that knowledge to the staff around them.”

Enhancing Practice Through Holistic Nursing

Location:
St. Catherine University, Minneapolis campus
Date: Mondays, April 4
to May 9, 2011
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Cost: $295
Register by March 25, 2011

The concepts covered in the course include the principles of integrative health, ethics, standards of care and holistic nursing theories. The course also provides nurses with evidence-based and research-based approaches that guide the holistic nursing practice, as well addresses the topic of self-care.

Janet Dahlem, an associate professor at St. Catherine University who serves on the board of the Minnesota Holistic Nursing Association, says the course prepares nurses to begin the process of certification in holistic nursing. Since holistic nursing was granted specialty status through the American Nurses Association in December 2006, all levels of nurses can now receive Holistic Nurse Certification through the national accrediting organization.

"Enhancing Practice Through Holistic Nursing," which will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on Mondays, April 4 through May 9, offers nurses 18 contact hours in a format that is more intensive than a typical weekend continuing education course.

“It’s much more in-depth,” says Dahlem. “With the scope of what we cover, it is very, very, unique in terms of its depth and breadth of information.”

At the same time, the course offers real-world training that nurses can apply in their hospitals the very next day. And in this way, Dahlem says the course is valuable for anyone with an RN.

“One can just come to this without caring about certification and get volumes out of it,” she says. “There’s a whole range of nurses in there, from some who don’t know what 'holistic' is to nurses who have been practicing it for years.”

Because the specialty is recognized by the accrediting organization, there are also monetary benefits for nurses who complete a Holistic Nurse Certification.

The course draws on a variety of teaching methods, ranging from lectures and PowerPoint presentations to guest speakers and small group discussions. Even the environment is designed as a model of holistic health, bringing in soft light, color and the sound of ocean waves prior to the start of class.

“We want to not just deliver the content, but we want to role model what is a holistic environment within the context of four walls,” says Dahlem. “We start each class with some holistic meditation or guided imagery or breath-work exercise to role model holistic health.”

The course touches on all the core values of holistic nursing, with four experienced instructors leading the group — three of whom are registered nurses. Dahlem and Schoenecker both teach the course, along with Mary Johnson, RN, and Lori Beron, RN.

“We also talk about holistic nursing, not limited to modalities or techniques or therapies, but holistic nursing theories,” says Dahlem. “All the research studies about holistic nursing talk about presence. The kind of energy and presence, listening, communication — all that stuff is part of what we teach, in terms of how you enter into a room. We have people for instance, before they go into a patient’s room, they could be stressed or angry or hurt, but you just take a moment to take a deep breath to release that and to walk in with an intention of healing, because we recognize that energy heals or takes away.”

More importantly, the course offers a segment in self-care, giving an RN tools to keep their energy level and personal morale up during times of high pressure and stress.

“Self-care is critical,” says Dahlem. “Nursing burnout is an over-the-top problem within the nursing field, particularly in hospital-based nursing.”

“With self-care, nurses come in rested and not completely burnt out,” adds Schoenecker. “These nurses come in refreshed and renewed.”

"Enhancing Practice Through Holistic Nursing" runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on Mondays, April 4 through May 9. Those interested in taking the course must register by March 25, 2011.

March 21, 2011 by Melissa Kaelin

See also: Education, Healthcare