By Shanell LaBelle
We are so proud to share that Dr. Carla Mariano, holistic nursing pioneer and co-founder of Pacific College’s holistic nursing programs, has received an invitation to the inaugural cohort of the Global Academy of Holistic Nursing (GAHN). The GAHN is “a community of holistic nurse scholars committed to advancing holistic, humanistic, and person-centered pathways to healthcare”. As an honorary holistic nurse scholar, Dr. Mariano is being acknowledged as an ambassador for the global advancement of her field.
What is Holistic Nursing?
While Western medicine directly treats a patient’s disease, holistic healthcare considers all aspects of a patient’s wellbeing. For example, if a patient breaks a leg, the Western treatment plan will typically aim to reset the bone and alleviate the pain. Holistic nurses consider how the injury may affect the patient’s mobility, autonomy, role in the family, vision of themselves, economics, ability to do their job or even keep their job, social life, and so on.
Modern research continues to exhibit the importance of patient self-care and feeling genuinely cared for by a healthcare provider. Studies around patient education, disease prevention, health promotion, and empowering patients to take responsibility for their healing journey are proving the positive impact of a holistic nursing approach.
On a greater scale, holistic nurses recognize all humans as unitary beings connected indivisibly with each other and our environment. Holistic nurses purposefully create trusting relationships with their patients, as they understand that what we do and how we treat others has a positive ripple effect on those around us.
How Do Holistic Nurses Treat Patients?
Holistic nurses aim to meet their patients where they are. Dr. Mariano shares that the first question she typically asks a new patient is, “what do you think is happening to you?” The patients are the ones who are experiencing imbalances, and they inherently know what they need better than anyone else. Often in healthcare we offer help with little input from the person receiving it. Patients should have equal say in what their healing plan looks like, and nurses can be in full partnership with the them and their families to achieve this. Mariano points out that often what the patient has been diagnosed with is not their main problem. Holistic nurses are well-prepared to educate people on their options, provide resources, and find the appropriate support. This can include not only referrals to other healers, but also addressing families who feel helpless and hopeless. They are equipped to offer tools and ideas for families to be of support and encouragement.
“People don’t get healed by nurses. They heal themselves. We offer the options and support needed to get there.” –Dr. Carla Mariano
The Global Academy of Holistic Nursing’s Mission
The GAHN is “a community of holistic nurse scholars committed to advancing holistic, humanistic, and person-centered pathways to healthcare”. Modern research provides a number of theories on best practices to care for a patient holistically, which are actively put into practice by the American Holistic Nursing Association here in the United States. As a new organization, GAHN aims to support their work, while advancing the specialty of holistic nursing on a global scale. The first cohort of holistic nurse scholars, including our very own Dr. Mariano, will collaborate with national and international organizations to “support sustainable programs that embody attributes of social justice, equity, and diversity”. Their vision is to create global communities who embrace the holistic healthcare approach through the joint efforts of holistic nurse scholars who demonstrate leadership and commitment to expanding transcultural global healthcare.
Dr. Mariano’s Plans for GAHN
When asked what drives her to transform the current state of global healthcare, Dr. Mariano’s response focuses upon social injustice. Displacement, violence, and hunger are global issues. We have recently been reminded of how inequalities in education and available resources have affected entire communities during the pandemic. In consideration of the holistic perspective that all humans are connected, she believes we need systems of health and social justice that include all people. What positively or negatively affects one part of the world will soon affect the entire world. Quality healthcare is not solely deserved by those who can afford it or are in the upper echelon of the U.S. and European nations. We can no longer leave out a part of the world in our approach to widespread wellbeing. Carla hopes to influence nurses in other areas to practice from a caring and healing perspective with consideration for the patient’s culture, family values, and lifestyle. She is dedicated to addressing communities who lack homes, shelters, and available resources, and works to educate these populations on the path to better healthcare and policies that support this mission.
The Future of Holistic Nursing
Mariano believes that a holistic and integrative care approach is the only way forward. GAHN is addressing the need for leadership and community education to start a ripple effect that will be felt for generations to come. We at Pacific College could not be prouder of the impactful work Dr. Carla Mariano is doing in the field of holistic nursing.
Additional information regarding the Academy, membership criteria, and applications are available in the Scholar’s Handbook at GAHNScholars.org; you can also learn more about Pacific College’s Holistic Nursing programs.