The use of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) has increased, especially in pediatric patients. About 20 to 40% of healthy children and > 50% of children with chronic and incurable conditions use CAM therapies, almost always with mainstream Western, allopathic medical care. However, in Utah there are no required courses in CAM and few CAM educators in medicine or nursing education. The purpose of this study is to describe the teaching of 2 holistic nurse educators from a large public university and a small private college. By gaining insights into the teaching of integrative holistic health care (IHHC), future educators can learn how these educators teach in the classroom, study their relations with the school administrators, and how their students and colleagues view them. Personal interviews with the educators, their deans, colleagues, and students were conducted as well as classroom observations, archival, and syllabi documents. The research involved a detailed exploration, using a rich descriptive case study to gain insights and discern unique educational attributes and contextual institutional support of nursing educators who teach IHHC. Over 100 hours of interviews and observations were made. Three central themes emerged from the holistic educators: (a) partnership with the students to share in and connect with their learning, (b) paradigm of broadening one's thought and articulating vision and voice by an acceptance of holism, and (c) presence of the educator to be available to, attuned to, and accepting of students. These 3 themes influenced how IHHC was taught and received. The classroom was arranged and an environment created that allowed students to learn and integrate diverse conceptualization of thoughts and ideas. The students reported a difference in the qualities of these educators and the atmosphere in the classroom. The holistic relationship of the health care provider and patient as well as teacher and student was conveyed and nurtured. Barriers that these educators experienced and shared were also recorded. Some colleagues of both educators felt that IHHC was outside the evidence-based allopathic research paradigm. The deans were supportive of their holistic educator and offered balance and encouragement to educators to integrate with ethical teaching accountability. When the institutional context of integrating these non-traditional healing modalities into the conventional Western medical paradigm did not have these 3 themes, then holistic education did not occur. This case study of these two holistic educators describes the importance of the themes of partnership, paradigm, and presence for the development of integrated holistic health care and education.
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