Nurses as Leaders in Integrative and Holistic Medicine
Western healthcare is in urgent need of reform. The costs of sustaining current models of medicine continue to escalate and are becoming increasingly unaffordable. The question as we move forward is not just one of administration – deciding who will pay the bills – it is, how can we create a more efficient and cost-effective model of practicing medicine? One potential solution is to evolve towards an integrative model of medicine, where nurses and nurse practitioners play an increasing role in the delivery of holistic patient care. As a Canadian medical doctor for many years and one who has been exposed to the American medical system, I have come to understand the pros and cons of both social and private approaches. It is imperative that we now question the way medicine has been practiced. With a foundation that is symptomatic in its approach, it has not been successful in treating the root causes of chronic diseases or cancer, which statistically have represented a major portion of healthcare expenses. There is an increasing consensus that Integrative medicine can play a crucial role in reducing healthcare costs, and in returning us to a more humanistic and holistic approach to medicine. Many hospitals have already begun using protocols of Integrative medicine for stress management, smoking cessation, weight loss, and pain reduction. So who will be the most qualified, licensed healthcare providers to implement holistic modalities within the existing system? You may think that the answer is the medical doctor, but most of the time they can’t add more to their growing load of responsibilities for less remuneration. The answer is obvious: the nurses and nurse practitioners. Among all of the healthcare providers, these are the people who are already known to have developed a good sense of clinical skills, and are capable of delivering new modalities with the patience and care they require. By reputation, they have the most presence at the bedside of the patient and a privileged relationship with both the patient and their families. By training nurses and nurse practitioners in holistic healing modalities and evaluation techniques, we have the opportunity to define a new area of specialization and redefine their role within the healthcare system. This new nurse, with a PhD Doctorate in Integrative Medicine, will be able to serve as one of the driving forces behind a profound transformation of the future of medical care.