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Video: Barbara Dossey talks about the holistic nursing movement on RNFM Radio


On March 12, RNFM Radio led a dynamic roundtable conversation with Barbara Dossey, the widely-known nurse theorist and integrative/holistic nursing pioneer. During the hour-long chat, the guests and host discussed a broad range of intriguing subjects, including Dossey’s many books, her pioneering of the holistic nursing movement and so much more, and we wanted to share the roundtable video with you.
Watch the entire discussion here:

Highlights from the discussion:

  • Dossey explains that she started out in cardiovascular nursing but over the course of her nearly 50 (!) years of nursing, she began to feel that there had to be more than drugs and surgeries to treat a patient. This inspired her to look into alternative ways of healing. This was in 1965, and she was lucky enough to work with a few like-minded people, like her husband, Larry, who inspired her to move forward with her interests.
  • In the beginning, “complementary care,” as we now know it, had to be done behind closed doors. Even though it was the 60s and times were changing, it wasn’t part of the mainstream yet.
  • One of Dossey’s earliest examples of how holistic care worked for her happened when she was experiencing a headache that she was having trouble working through. She took her blood pressure, and it was nearly 160/90. For a young woman in great shape, this really alarmed her. So she took a break and went and sat near water outside of her hospital. She counted her breathing and connected with the quiet of the world around her, came back in and took her blood pressure again. It was 116/90. Simple, yet effective. What nurse at that time could have prescribed this technique to a patient?
  • She began quietly working with patients (as needed) with the techniques she was studying and using herself at home. Now she could chart those types of things, but back then it had to be kept quieter; while she was able to customize her care plans and make it work, she wasn’t very direct about what she was doing. However, she saw many positive outcomes of treating her patients holistically and continued doing it more and more.
  • A key part of Dossey’s treatment is to listen to the patient and find out what has worked for them in the past, their history with both medicine and treatment, and their general medical rundown. This gives her an immediate sense of what might or might not work for them.
  • In the early 2000s, Dossey noticed that though health and wellness coaching was becoming common in many instances in medicine, it wasn’t happening at the bedside. That’s when she got involved with nurse coaching, which she has now written several books about.
  • Dossey believes that nurses should always be furthering their education, learning from and talking to doctors they work with and documenting all of their knowledge and evidenced-based success.
  • She really believes that nurse coaching should be an on-staff job at all hospitals and that the public itself should be more educated on what both nurses and nurse coaches really do.
  • Her biggest message to the 19 million nurses worldwide is to be more aware and balanced, both in work and in life.

About the speaker:

With passion and a persuasive eloquence, Barbara Dossey is expanding the domain of traditional nursing. As a pioneer in the holistic nursing movement, she works to advance the practice and philosophies of holistic care, both within the health professions and in the lives of lay people. Barbara articulates how healing is promoted by attending to the delicate interaction of body, mind, and spirit, and how centuries-old concepts can be successfully applied in the care of patients and in everyday living.

Barbara Dossey is the the author of many respected and award winning books. Her latest book, Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Healer, focuses on the philosophical and practical impact of Florence Nightingale’s life and work on modern nursing and humankind. Other recent publications include Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice; AHNA Standards of Holistic Nursing; the AHNA Core Curriculum for Holistic Nursing (editor); AACN Handbook of Critical Care Nursing; Rituals of Healing; and Profiles of Nurse Healers

As an educator, consultant, researcher, and author, Barbara Dossey profoundly alters perceptions about holistic nursing. An inspired teacher, she effectively integrates non-traditional viewpoints with a high degree of scientific awareness in her lectures worldwide. Spanning the full range of current nursing and health information, her presentations provide challenging, practical, and innovative ways to combine holistic health care with high-level wellness. From nursing association gatherings to corporate meetings-all audiences respond enthusiastically to Barbara Dossey’s penetrating insights and abiding compassion.

Nurses, what do you make of this roundtable? Have you experienced or worked with holistic nursing? Did you tune in to the discussion or watch it above? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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