American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation

AHNCC is a nonprofit 501 c (6) organization that was incorporated in April 1997. Our goal as an organization is to ensure the validity, reliability, security, and integrity of the certification processes of our programs. We work with AHNA to advance Holistic Integrative Nursing and Nurse Coaching. AHNA offers Holistic Nurses networking opportunities, educational resources, and other activities important for growth as a Holistic Nurse. AHNA does not offer Holistic Nurse or Nurse Coach Board Certification; that is the work of AHNCC. For more information about AHNA we invite you to visit AHNA.org.

Organization History and Development

The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) was organized in 1981 with the intent of advancing person-centered care, created by the relationship between nurse and client, with an emphasis on clients as the expert of their own experiences and nurses as instruments of healing. The leaders of the movement drew from nursing theorists such as Rogers, Watson, Newman, Parse, Leininger, Paterson and Zderad, and Erickson, Tomlin, and Swain to define holistic nursing, specify standards of care, identify core values, and clarify the essence of holistic nursing practice.

By 1990, AHNA members recognized the need for a national certification board to ensure competencies for holistic nurses. AHNA members articulated the scope of practice, and specified the standards of care and related competencies. In 1995 AHNA Leadership Council contracted with the National League of Nursing (NLN) for development of a certification examination, set criteria for a transitional, phase-in program that would allow long-time holistic nurses to become certified through an extensive portfolio process, and initiated a certification committee to oversee the certification program. Legal council recommended that a separate body be established to oversee all aspects of the credentialing programs. The first role-delineation study (RDS) was published in 1997 and the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC) was incorporated as an autonomous organization. Its mission was to provide rigorous credentialing programs embedded in the precepts of the holistic paradigm. AHNCC assumed AHNA’s contract with NLN and proceeded to develop and offer a certification examination for holistic nurses. In 2012 AHNCC changed its name to the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation.

Holistic Nursing was recognized by ANA as a specialty in 2006. The publication, Holistic Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice (AHNA, 2007, 2013) describes the scope of Holistic Nursing as a specialty, specifies the standards and related competencies, and articulates the precepts and principles of holistic nursing care.

The Specialty

Holistic Nursing is described as a way of being with people and has at its core the belief that people have an inherent ability to heal. The precepts include:

  1. Most people need support initiating and maintaining a healing process;
  2. Healing is a continuous integration of mind, body, and spirit that produces a sense of well being, and harmony; and
  3. In order to facilitate healing, nurses must partner with their clients, honor their worldview as the primary source of information, and view themselves as instruments of healing.

Holistic nurses work with anyone who needs or wants help to heal, grow or more fully actualize. That is, the population of Holistic Nursing includes infants to the elderly, and those with or without physical conditions, ailments, or disease. The goals of Holistic Nursing are health, wellness and wellbeing, in all states and conditions of life, including times of transition and physical death. Health is eudaemonistic, an individually-defined state or process in which one experiences a sense of wellbeing, harmony, and unity—a process of becoming and expanding consciousness. Holistic nurses recognize that all things are connected, that there is unity of humans and environment, and as such they have a responsibility to protect the ecosystem and promote universal health.

As instruments of healing, holistic nurses believe that they must partner with their clients, honor a client’s worldview, and prepare themselves to enter into a caring-healing relationship. Fundamental to each client interaction is self-awareness, centering, and setting an intent to facilitate healing and/or growth for the client. The essence of the interaction is intentionality that leads to presence. Presence allows for a trusting-caring-healing space (an energetic unity between nurse and client).

Nurses who practice within the precepts of Holistic Nursing follow the tenets of evidence-based practice. They work in all settings, in any clinical area, and may assume many different roles. Their practices range from critical care units to private practice, working with people to help maintain their current good health, manage chronic health conditions, or manage minor acute health challenges. They also may work with people during life transitions ranging from birth to end of life.

A new and emerging role is that of the Nurse Coach. Nurse Coaching was developed to meet the demands in healthcare reform and is based in the precepts of Holistic Nursing. Specifically, Nurse Coaching is a structured client-centered process with the client as director and the nurse as the facilitator of the client’s self-directed goals, implemented within a contracted period of time.

The publication, The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide to Coaching Scope and Competencies (ANA, 2013), introduces the reader to the background of the coaching role. The processes used by the authors resulted in specification of nurse coaching as a unique role embedded in Holistic Nursing. It also produced concepts, definitions, scope and competencies needed for practice of the coaching role.