Frequently Asked Questions

  Overview of Holistic Nursing
• Membership
Education and Research
• Certification
Partnering and Advertising
Publications and Products
Members Only
"How to" Guides
   step-by-step instructions for using our Web site

Overview of Holistic Nursing

What is AHNA?
The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) is a non-profit membership association for nurses and other holistic healthcare professionals. Founded in 1981, AHNA is the definitive voice for holistic nursing, and promotes the education of nurses, other healthcare professionals, and the public in the philosophy, concepts, practice, and research of holistic caring and healing.

Has AHNA developed a scope and standards document for holistic nursing practice?
Yes. Holistic nursing practice is recognized by the American Nurses Association as a nursing specialty with a defined scope and standards of practice. You may purchase a copy of the Scope and Standards of Practice in our Online Store.

What is a Holistic Nurse?
A holistic nurse is a legally licensed nurse who takes a holistic (mind-body-spirit-emotion) approach to the practice of traditional nursing. Holistic nursing is based on a body of knowledge, evidence-based research, sophisticated skill sets, defined standards of practice, and a philosophy of living and being that is grounded in caring, relationship, and interconnectedness.

Do you have to be certified to practice as a Holistic Nurse?
No, you do not need to be certified in order to practice as a holistic nurse. Professional certification represents an individual's experience and demonstrated knowledge in a profession or specialty. Find out more about professional certification.

What jobs are available to Holistic Nurses?
Holistic nurses practice in a variety of settings from hospitals, to universities, to private, independent practices. Many holistic nurses have become personal wellness coaches or consultants to institutions that are working to integrate complementary and alternative therapies. Some holistic nurses specialize in one or more modalities, such as energetic healing or bodywork, and maintain separate certifications to legally practice these in their individual states. Find out more about professional certification.

How can I find a holistic nurse in my area?
Many of our members have chosen to be listed in our Practitioner Directory. We also suggest calling your local hospital, clinic or physician’s office and asking if they employ holistic nurses. View a partial list of integrative hospitals/clinics across the nation.


Do I have to be a nurse to join AHNA?
Do I have to have a bachelor's degree, BSN, or certification to join?
No. Everyone is welcome who is interested in sharing and spreading the vision of holistic healthcare. We have memberships for nurses of all backgrounds and  memberships for those who are non-nurses as well.

Why should I join AHNA?
Please view our detailed list of Membership Benefits! 

How many members does AHNA have?
We currently have 4,500 members and are growing. Currently, more than 10,000 people visit our website each month.

Does AHNA provide malpractice insurance for its members?
AHNA has partnered with the Nurses Service Organization to offer our members liability insurance. Please call NSO at 1-800-247-1500 for more information about premiums and coverage, or find out more

How can I join AHNA?

All you need to join AHNA is a few moments to fill out our membership form and a credit card or check for the first year’s annual membership dues. A new member packet will be mailed to you within 7-10 business days. Join Now!

How can my organization join AHNA?
Group memberships are available for any organization, institution, university, or clinic. You can join as a group and save money for multiple memberships of 5 or more people. Save up to 32%! Please see Member Categories for further information. 

How long after I join will I get my new member packet and certificate?
You will get your new member packet with your wall certificate within 7-10 business days.

Are my dues tax deductible?
Yes, if your dues are a professional expense!

If I join, may I call myself a Holistic Nurse?
Not necessarily. To call yourself a holistic nurse, you must first hold a license as a Registered Nurse from a State Board of Nursing. We strongly advise that all nurses read our Scope and Standards of Practice before calling themselves “holistic nurses.”

What is the difference between the Member Directory and the Online Practitioner Directory?
A listing in the online practitioner directory is a paid advertisement for those members who wish their practice to be viewable by general visitors to the Web site. Not all AHNA members are listed in the practitioner directory. The member directory can only be viewed by fellow AHNA members. You must first log-in with your member username and password to view the full member directory. Learn more about purchasing an practitioner listing.

Local Chapters

How can I find other AHNA members with similar interests?
With our Web site, we have several options to find other AHNA members. The discussion forums are a great place to connect with others with similar interests. And then of course you can search our member directory based on credentials, education and locality. Your local Chapter can also connect you with other AHNA members that meet regularly in your area.
What is an AHNA Local Chapter?
Chapters vary in form; some hold regular monthly meetings focused on continuing education and information sharing, while others hold quarterly or annual meetings focused on self-care and nurturing. Please search our local Chapter Directory to find meetings or events near you.

How can I find a Local Chapter near me?
We now have the local Chapter List on our Web site.

How can I spread the word about holistic nursing in my area?
We now have lots of informtion available online for AHNA members. Visit Outreach and Media under Members Only.

Education & Research

What kinds of educational programs does AHNA offer? 
The AHNA offers self-study and live presentation continuing nursing education (CNE) activities. Learn more.

What is the difference between an AHNA Approved program and an Endorsed program?
An Approved Program is peer-reviewed by the AHNA's Education Approver Committee (EAC), which operates under the strict guidelines of the ANCC criteria. Once approved, an activity awards contact hours to nurse participants who successfully complete the activity.  The purpose of approval is to allow nurse educators to offer quality holistic continuing nursing education (CNE) contact hours for use in fulfilling nurses' goals for professional development, licensure, and certification.

An AHNA Endorsed Program is already approved or accredited to award contact hours to nurses before the endorsement application is submitted for review.  Seeking endorsement is a voluntary process for receiving special recognition/acknowledgement through a system developed by AHNA. Endorsed programs are extensive CNE courses that offer content based on a well-developed body of knowledge congruent with the philosophy, mission, and purpose of the AHNA. AHNA Endorses Programs, not schools (colleges or universities). Participants who successfully complete endorsed programs receive contact hours and a certificate in a specialty area such as Healing Touch, Aromatherapy, or Stress Management.

Do you know of a holistic nursing school in my area?
AHNA is happy to provide you with a link to the AHNCC website, which contains a list of schools offering undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees with holistic philosophy, theory and practice in the curriculum.  AHNA endorses continuing nursing education programs, which have gone through a rigorous peer-review process and approval by the AHNA Board of Directors.

The American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC) endorses schools (colleges and universities) that offer undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees that embrace holism and teach holism within the nursing curriculum. By completing a nursing program at one of these schools, you fulfill all the requirements to sit for the Holistic Nurse Certification Exam through the AHNCC.

How can I find holistic continuing nursing education in my area?
Please visit our searchable list of AHNA approved programs, check out our Conference pages, or visit our Events Calendar to see what's coming your way.

Does AHNA provide assistance for Holistic Nursing Research?
Research grants are available to AHNA nurse members who have been members for at least one year and are conducting research on topics related to holistic nursing. One or more grants are offered each year and vary from $500 to $2,500. Applicants are asked to submit their research proposals following the guidelines and application procedures. Grant proposals must be postmarked no later than March 15 of each year.


Does AHNA offer certification? 
No. To become Holistic Nurse-Board Certified (HN-BC), Holistic Baccalaureate Nurse-Board Certified (HNB-BC) or Advanced Holistic Nurse-Board Certified (AHN-BC) you must contact the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC). The AHNCC is responsible for the administration of the Holistic Nurses Certification Examination. The Board of Directors is responsible for ensuring the validity, reliability, security and integrity of the certification process. You can contact the AHNCC at or by calling (512) 528-9210.
You do not have to be certified to join AHNA?  
No. Everyone is welcome who is interested in sharing and spreading the vision of holistic healthcare. We have memberships for nurses of all backgrounds and memberships for those who are non-nurses.
Who can I contact about certification?
The American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC).

How is the certification exam developed?
Although AHNA and AHNCC are separate entities, both organizations are committed to all holistic nurses being certified. A question that has occasionally arisen is how was the certification exam developed. We asked Helen Erickson, Chairperson of the AHNCC Board and one of the developers of the exam, to write a brief article on the exam’s development. Click here to read the full article. If you have any questions, please contact Margaret Erickson at  

How is AHNCC affiliated with AHNA?
While AHNA and AHNCC are separate organizations, AHNA provides education and networking opportunities that support the requirements to obtain certification in holistic nursing.

What is certification? 
As defined by the ANCC, certification of nursing practice is the tangible recognition of professional achievement in a defined functional or clinical area of nursing - and signifies attainment of specific criteria and knowledge, skills, and abilities in a specific specialty field. Certified nurses comprise a minority of the professional nurse population.

Why get certified?
It builds confidence in your professional ability.
It demonstrates that you have met national standards.
It validates your nursing knowledge.
It shows dedication to nursing as a profession.
It provides potential career opportunities and salary increases.

What is the difference between certification and certificate programs?
Certification of nursing practice signifies attainment of specific criteria and knowledge, skills, and abilities in a specific specialty field. A certificate may be received for completion of CNE course and therefore recognizes successful completion or expertise in a specific skill, modality or area of study within nursing practice.

I’m new at this; what are my options for certification in Holistic Nursing?
AHNCC now has three levels of certification. The first is for all licensed registered nurses. Upon completion of this program, the nurse will be awarded the Holistic Nurse, Board Certified (HN-BC). The second program is for nurses who have a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing from an institution recognized by the US Department of Education. Upon completion of this program, the nurse will be awarded the Holistic Baccalaureate Nurse, Board Certified (HNB-BC). The third program is for nurses with a Graduate Degree in Nursing from an institution recognized by the US Department of Education. Upon completion of this program, the nurse will be awarded the Advanced Holistic Nurse, Board Certified (AHN-BC). If you have additional questions contact AHNCC at

What will be the credential of the Non-Baccalaureate Holistic Nurse, Board Certified?
The HN-BC is for all registered nurses who do not have a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing, including those who take the new examination as well as those who currently hold the HN-BC. Nurses who currently hold the HN-BC and are Baccalaureate prepared can be grandfathered in as an HNB-BC upon request of AHNCC until December 31, 2009. If you are one of those nurses, you can begin to use this acronym as soon as you are approved by AHNCC. If you wish to have a certificate with the new acronym prior to that time, you can request that one be prepared for you at the cost of $25.00. Contact AHNCC at for assistance. Nurses currently prepared to take a future examination will be awarded the HNB-BC automatically.

Why did the AHNCC Board decide to provide a certification process for the Non-Baccalaureate holistic nurse?
The AHNCC Board believes that there are many wonderful holistic nurses practicing in our healthcare agencies everyday that are not currently eligible for certification. AHNCC also believes that it is thier responsibility to validate the knowledge and skills of these nurses and to assure the public that they are indeed, Holistic Nurses, practicing at the beginning level of professional nursing. Just as there is a difference in the knowledge and skills of the graduate prepared nurse when compared to the baccalaureate nurse, so is there a difference in the baccalaureate and non-baccalaureate. Each has a unique role in the whole of the health care system; each should be validated and encouraged to continue to grow and be proactive participants. Therefore, they have decided to initiate a third Certification Process for the Non-Baccalaureate Nurse.

Why do people obtain the HN-BC, HNB-BC, or AHN-BC Certification?
People obtain Certification for personal and professional reasons. Some people work for organizations that require Certification. Most agencies increase the salaries of nurses once they are certified. Other nurses believe that credentials legitimize their independent practice. Specifically, the nurse who is HN-BC, HNB-BC, or AHN-BC certified has demonstrated expertise in knowledge and practice that provides the context for Holistic Nursing.

What is the difference between HNC and HN-BC?
There is no difference. In 2004, the credential was changed in the credential from HNC (Holistic Nurse Certified) to HN-BC (Holistic Nurse - Board Certified). This change was made as BC is a nationally recognized credential that differentiates individuals who have passed national examinations, and are certified, from individuals who complete certificate programs.

Certified Holistic Nurses may continue to use HNC although HN-BC, HNB-BC or AHN-BC (Advanced Holistic Nurse-Board Certified) are more accurate.

How can I get certified in Holistic Nursing?

Individuals must complete the Certification Process. This includes an Application, a Qualitative Assessment, and a Quantitative Examination. The only exception to this three-step certification process is for the graduates of Endorsed Programs. They are not required to complete the Qualitative Assessment. For more information, go to, click on the Certification link for details.

What is accreditation?
The ANCC system for accreditation of continuing nursing education is a voluntary recognition process. An institution, organization or agency submits to an in-depth analysis to determine the capacity of the entity to provide, or in the case of the approver, approve quality activities for nurses.

Does AHNA have information about licensing?
The State Board of Nursing for each state grants licenses for practice. International nurses interested in working in this country, or nurses in this country wanting information about the “scope of practice” for a specific state should go the National Council of State Boards of Nursing web site at for state licensing information.


What is the AHNA conference?
The AHNA conference is a yearly event located in different parts of the country. It is held at a hotel or resort, usually lasting about 3 days, plus a preconference day.  A variety of workshops are available offering Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) credits. There are also keynote addresses, fun optional activities, early morning self-care activities and vendors offering a variety of products and services. Get more information about our upcoming conference.

What is the difference between the annual conference and the annual meeting?
The annual meeting is the membership meeting that takes place at the conference and is an update to the members about what is happening in membership, education, outreach and finances within AHNA.

How can I exhibit at the annual conference?
If you want to exhibit and sell your product or services at the annual conference, you may request an exhibitor prospectus from the Conference Coordinator by calling (800) 278-2462, Ext 23 or download the Exhibitor Prospectus. Space and booth assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis so it is important to get your request in early.

How can I present at the annual conference?
Each year, we issue a call for proposals for conference presenters--with a deadline of September 1 for the following year. Proposals are accepted for workshops, research papers, research posters, and focused dialogue presentations. All proposals are peer-reviewed. Priority is given to those abstracts that address the annual conference theme. For more information contact our Education Department at, or call, (800) 278-2462.

Partnering and Advertising

How can I partner with AHNA?
The AHNA offers many opportunities for collaboration including sponsorships, group memberships and advertising through our organization. If you are interested in partnering with the AHNA, please contact our Advertising Department at or call (800) 278-2462, Ext. 23.

How can I reach holistic nurses?
If you offer a product, service or continuing education program that may be of interest to holistic nurses, you should consider advertising with AHNA. We have many advertising opportunities available including our Web site, our e-mail newsletter, and our printed magazine, Beginnings. AHNA has a large membership base of nurses and other holistic healthcare practitioners, many of whom are well-educated and employed in decision-making positions (see our demographic profile).

Does the AHNA have a mailing list for sale?
AHNA members have the option to receive additional mailings pertinent to holistic health. Educational institutions and holistic companies that support the mission and vision of the AHNA may rent the names and physical addresses of members who have opted-in to recieve additional mailings. Download a rental application.

Members may opt out of this list by logging on to the Member's Only section of the Web site and updating "My Profile" or by calling the National Office at (800) 278-2462.

Does the AHNA sell member email addresses?
Absolutely not. Member email addresses are strictly confidential. Advertisers have the option to reach our members by sponsoring our monthly eNewsletter. Email addresses contained in any of our online directories may not be used for marketing purposes. Please review our Privacy Policy.

Publications and Products

How do I access the Journal of Holistic Nursing online?
All AHNA members have free access to the online archives of the Journal of Holistic Nursing as a benefit of membership. All you need is your member number and a few moments to set-up an account on the Sage Publications web site. Download instructions for how to access the journal.

Why don't student and senior members receive the hard-copy Journal of Holistic Nursing?
The decision to go only provide the online version of the Journal of Holistic Nursing (JHN)to senior and student members is two-fold. We want to keep these memberships as affordable as possible and we want to protect the environment. A print version of JHN can be added to these memberships for only $30. Please contact our Membership Department at for more information.

At the 2009 student/faculty meeting, student members made the decision to stop including hard-copy JHN in student memberships. Our students' decision to go paperless helps the environment and is just one of many actions we are taking during the 2010 International Year of the Nurse to support U.N. Millennium Development Goal #7 to "Ensure Environmental Sustainability".  Thank you for helping us light the way to improved environmental health!

What do I do if I want to stop (or start) receiving AHNA's print or e-mail publications?
AHNA seeks to offer our members information appropriate to you and your life. If you do not wish to receive Beginnings, the Journal of Holistic NursingNews from AHNA (an eNewsletter) or Connections in Holistic Nursing Research (a quarterly eNewsletter), please contact us at and we will immediately stop delivery of these publications. Please do NOT hit "SafeUnsubscribe" at the bottom of these eNewsletters as this may stop all e-mails from AHNA, including renewal notices.

Members Only

What can I find in the Members Only section?
The Members Only section features access to a number of valuable tools for taking advantage of your member benefits, including:

  • The online Member Directory, allowing you to locate other AHNA members by name, state, ZIP code, clinical practice interest, or job title. You can also make changes to your own listing.
  • Current and past issues of Beginnings, AHNA's member magazine, as well as our monthly eNewsletter
  • Discussion forums for members
  • And much more...

If you are having trouble using the Members Only section, check out our helpful “how to” guides:

How to Activate Your Account If You Are Already a AHNA Member
How to Create a Non-Member Guest Account
How to Log In to the Web Site
How to Log In If You Forgot Your Password
How to Edit Your Account/Update Your Profile
How to Use the AHNA Member Directory
How to Use the Members-only Discussion Forum

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