The Missing Piece: Rasmussen College Nursing Instructor Shares Her Passion for Holistic Nursing
Dianne Johnson has always been drawn to a helping profession. While she was still in high school, she obtained her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) credential and, from there, knew she wanted to continue on her educational journey and leaped head- and heart-first into the nursing field.
As Johnson advanced her education and climbed higher into her career, she was willing and eager to learn and grow. However, after working in the field for several years, she felt she’d hit a plateau, and that something in her career and life was missing. “I just couldn’t put my finger on it,” she says. While she loved her job, Johnson would later recognize the plateau she was experiencing was actually burnout. “I was burnt out, but at the time, I didn’t even know what that meant—no one talked about it. I knew I needed to go to work and keep doing a good job, but I didn’t feel that spark anymore,” she says.
In an effort to find new inspiration, Johnson turned to more education. She came across a holistic nursing conference and took the opportunity to sign up. With no previous knowledge of the holistic nursing field, she did not know what the weekend would entail or what she could expect.
At the conference, she found that many in attendance were on the same page, as no one really knew what holistic nursing was—but everyone felt their careers needed a bit of a shake-up.
“Once we learned about the concept of holistic nursing, it seemed that all in attendance were drawn to it immediately, like it was that missing piece,” Johnson says. What started as a weekend for learning turned into an emotional homecoming for many of the nurses in attendance. “My interest was piqued, and the weekend wasn’t enough—I wanted more. I was excited by the new opportunity to dive into this side of the nursing field,” she says.
The heart and goal of nursing is to consider a person holistically—to take care of and heal the whole person. The practice of holistic nursing looks at how a physical problem can expand and manifest emotionally, spiritually and beyond to affect the complete person. In Johnson’s experience, once nurses began practicing in the field and were immersed in the healthcare system, it was oftentimes difficult to find a culture that supported a holistic point of view. It takes extensive time and resources to study the whole person beyond the immediately pressing issues—and many healthcare systems don’t have the time or resources to address holistic needs.
After working in the field for many years, advancing her education and deepening her understanding of holistic nursing practices, Johnson started teaching online classes at Rasmussen College in 2015. While she has taught a variety of courses, the Rasmussen College Complementary and Alternative Medicine course has remained the closest to her heart. The course, which is an introduction to alternative and complementary therapies, is a requirement for Rasmussen College Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, whereas at other colleges, similar courses are often only offered as electives. Rasmussen College believes it important for students to be exposed to this rapidly growing aspect of the healthcare field.
“I understand holistic nursing isn’t for everyone. A few of my students know right away that they aren’t interested and have different career paths in mind. For most others, I can tell they are excited and intrigued by this side of nursing,” Johnson says. Whether students desire to continue along a path of holistic nursing, Johnson believes that having the background knowledge of the field is an invaluable tool to add to one’s nursing toolkit.
“If my students or peers take away anything from the study of holistic nursing, I hope they understand its core value of self-care. Self-care gives all of us permission to take the important steps to nurture ourselves, and our minds, bodies and spirits,” says Johnson. Empowering and taking care of patients can only start with taking care of oneself. “Nurses need to ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’ and take time to care for themselves.”
To learn more about holistic nursing, read our School of Nursing article, “What Is Holistic Nursing? Healing from the Inside Out.”