The Whole Person: Nurses Discuss Holistic Methods in Health Care

Article excerpt

Health care consumers - people outside the medical professions - are in the best position to change health care practices to include holistic methods, say some people on the inside.

The American Holistic Nurses Association is holding its 16th annual gathering through Sunday at the Marriott Pavilion Hotel downtown. The committee running the five-day conference talked Wednesday afternoon about who the holistic nurses are, what they do, how they are changing health care, and why they need the help of consumers to do it.

Doris Whalen of Richmond, Ind., co-chair of the conference with Sheryl Carter of Kansas City, defined a holistic nurse as one who "treats the whole person - body, mind, emotions, and spirit - through conventional and alternative methods."

Whalen defined conventional methods as giving a patient a bath, a pain shot or physical therapy. Alternative methods might include therapeutic touch, massage and counseling in herbs, vitamins or nutrition.

The latter, Whalen said, are methods that address the mind-body connection and that place some of the responsibility for healing with the patient. "Alternative healing methods, holistic methods, don't have side effects. They are not toxic. They allow the immune system to stay intact," said Miranda Toups, a holistic nurse from Dallas. Donna Stagner of St. Louis added that alternative healing methods work with the body, to help it regain its natural balance.

Holistic nurses are nurses and other health care workers who have participated in a four-part course that takes about 18 months.

About 300 of the 4,000 holistic nurses in the nation are attending the conference. Veda Andrus of Whately, Mass. …