Integrative Health and Healing

Integrative Health and Healing students

The Integrative Health and Healing (IHH) specialty of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) became an official part of the School of Nursing DNP program options in fall 2009. Initial curriculum plans were developed by co-directors Professor Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, and Associate Professor Linda Halcón, PhD. They were joined by Clinical Assistant Professor Deborah Ringdahl, DNP in 2010. Professor Kreitzer, a tenured School of Nursing faculty member, is also the director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing (CSPH) of the Academic Health Center.

The first program of its kind in the United States, the core DNP courses exist within the School of Nursing and the specialty courses are offered through the Center for Spirituality and Healing. Required CSPH courses focus on the theory and practice of integrative health care, including skill-based courses such as aromatherapy, guided imagery, Reiki, and acupressure as well as those with a more conceptual foundation, such as optimal healing environments, health coaching, and functional nutrition. Several of these courses are ‘bundled’ during January (in Hawaii) and May terms, providing a more concentrated format for those living at a distance. IHH students develop competencies in scholarship, research, and practice that support an integrative model of nursing care. Clinical experiences occur over three semesters, starting with integrative nursing skill and role development and concluding with development of leadership skills at the systems level. Graduates are prepared to work with individuals, families, communities and health systems in developing integrative approaches to health promotion, disease prevention and chronic disease management. Graduates can also provide leadership and work within collaborative teams across a wide variety of settings including hospitals, clinics and health centers, long term care facilities, community health settings, schools, and corporate/business environments. The George Family Foundation offers a fellowship for qualified students during their final year. 

Concurrent with the development of this specialty area was a DNP curriculum change that required the majority of DNP students to complete the course ‘Introduction to Integrative Healing Practices’ offered through the CSPH. As a consequence of this curriculum change, this course is now offered in three formats: online, hybrid, and in a week-long summer institute.

The American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC) offers a certification exam that graduates of the IHH DNP program are qualified to take: Advanced Holistic Nurse, Board Certified (AHN-BC). The Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) designation is not used for Integrative Health and Healing DNP graduates unless they have already achieved this status through certification as a CNS, NP, CNM, or CRNA.

Prepared by Sandra Edwardson, 2013