The movement toward holistic healing is radically reshaping healthcare. Healthcare professionals around the globe are realizing the benefits of holistic healing and integrative medicine as more patients demonstrate an interest in taking steps to prevent illness. The National Institutes of Health has estimated that over a third of Americans report having utilized some form of alternative medicine. As a result, various associations and schools have recognized the growing need to train and develop the next generation of healthcare professionals with the skills necessary to deliver natural, evidence-based solutions.
Overview of Holistic Healing
Holistic healing is the science and art of healing that addresses an individual’s whole person — body, mind, and overall wellness. Central to holistic care is a philosophy based on the idea of holism that views a person’s whole body as being greater than the sum of its parts.
Holistic care encompasses a wide range of approaches, including complementary treatment, self-help, communication, education, and medication. This form of healthcare stands in stark contrast to Western methods that focus most extensively on relieving the symptoms, whereas holistic care seeks to unearth the underlying causes of diseases. A diagnosis is offered only after the patient’s holistic medical history, holistic health score sheet, physical exam, and lab data have been thoroughly evaluated.
In holistic healing, care providers teach their patients preventive techniques and help them develop their own innate healing capabilities. Practitioners of holistic healing educate and help their patients understand the importance of the mind-body connection. This principle stems from the belief that the underlying cause of disease can be emotional stress and trauma caused by various triggers; the goal is to heal the mind in order to heal the body.
The relationship between physician and patient is vital to recovery. Holistic healthcare physicians lead their patients by example; they show respect for human dignity and consider their patients’ thoughts, emotions, attitudes, opinions, and cultures as being vital to patient satisfaction, happiness, and recovery. Patients are encouraged to take part in the decision-making process, further deepening and strengthening the patient-physician relationship.
Care treatment options offered by holistic care practitioners include treatments based around diet, exercise, behavioral modifications, counseling, homeopathy, acupuncture, manual medicine, herbal medicine, biomolecular therapies, physical therapy, drugs, and surgery.
Holistic healthcare professionals deliver care across a wide variety of settings and practices. From massage therapy to acupuncture, holistic nursing, and nutrition, the thread weaving these practices together is the belief in the potential of natural, evidence-based care.
Today, holistic care is a $37 billion-a-year business. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) showed that nearly 40 percent of American adults and 12 percent of children have used some form of alternative medicine. Healthcare providers and associations have taken note. A survey released in 2011 found that over 42 percent of responding hospitals offer one or more complementary or alternative medicine therapies.
How it is influencing healthcare
Growing interest in holistic healing is contributing to personalization in care delivery — also known as person-centered medicine (PCM). An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) defines PCM as “medical science which places the person as a physical, psychological, and spiritual entity at the center of healthcare and of the therapeutic process.” In many ways, PCM runs contrary to the dominant Western medical approach that views the cell as the basic unit of life.
As a central aspect of holistic healing, personalized care is revolutionizing the patient care process. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey, the first priority of healthcare consumers is personalization expected via providers. Personalized care demonstrated through a partnership between consumers and providers is considered vital in determining the most effective treatment, according to 75 percent of survey respondents. Furthermore, 1 in 3 consumers would like their providers to encourage them to question and research prescribed treatments. Holistic healing practitioners have a unique advantage in being the leaders of this trend in healthcare delivery.
The opportunities for holistic healthcare professionals
According to a CDC National Health Statistics Report, 17.1 percent of Americans suffering from back pain use complementary therapy. Those suffering with chronic back, neck, or knee pain turn to acupuncture and/or massage therapy as an alternative to pain relievers and opioids. Various spas and wellness centers across the U.S. are responding to the growing demand for holistic healing by offering tui na, Chinese massage, Japanese massage, and Thai massage.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) has recognized the benefits of acupuncture. The organization recently issued new guidelines recommending acupuncture over opioids for treating pain. Additionally, CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics published a review in 2011 that showed acupuncture as a comparable alternative to cognitive behavioral therapy in treating anxiety.
The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) defines holistic nursing as “all nursing practice that has healing the whole person as its goal.” Modern holistic nursing is based on Florence Nightingale’s principles of holism: wellness, unity, and the interrelationship of human beings and their environment. The American Nursing Association (ANA) has recognized holistic nursing as a nursing specialty, and a growing number of hospitals are incorporating holistic healing principles into nursing care.
The career possibilities for holistic healing professionals are expanding. Massage therapy, for example, is experiencing rapid growth, with an expected 22 percent increase in jobs between 2014 and 2024. Approximately 50 percent of massage practitioners in the U.S. work part time or are self-employed. Work environments can include spas, hotels, resorts, hospitals, cruise lines, private practices, medicine and physical therapy clinics, cancer centers, and private practice.
There were an estimated 30,000 licensed, practicing acupuncturists according to a report by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine published in January 2014. These health practitioners practice across a wide variety of settings, including spas, clinics, hospitals, physical therapy and chiropractor offices, educational institutions, national and state agencies, and private practice.
The nursing profession is experiencing a faster-than-average national job outlook growth rate of 16 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates. Holistic nurses are attentive to an individual’s health, encompassing mental, emotional, and physical well-being. They can gain employment at hospitals, private practices, birthing centers, and integrated medical facilities, as well as privately out of patients’ homes. Unique to holistic nursing is the opportunity to practice holistic care within all nursing specialties.
Regardless of which specialization holistic healing practitioners may choose, they are responding to healthcare’s shifting landscape and addressing the industry’s biggest problems by combining holistic healing with integrative medicine. Above all, they are answering the call to exceed patient expectations.
The future of healthcare is holistic healing.
Why Pacific College of Oriental Medicine?
Since its inception, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine has been at the forefront of educating students and working in conjunction with lawmakers and medical professionals to advance the standards of both the holistic medicine profession and curriculum.
Pacific College has received awards for its acupuncture and Oriental medicine curriculum and clinical training, along with research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, among others. Many of our alumni have gone on to be successful in the field and are currently sought after as both teachers and practitioners in the U.S. and abroad.
We invite you to learn more about Pacific College's campuses in San Diego, New York, and Chicago. Once you have decided which campus interests you, we invite you to get in touch with one of our admissions representatives.