Words from the Past-President




Mary Anne Hanley, PhD, RN, QTTT, SGAHN

August 30,2023

Throughout my career in nursing, one of the greatest honors and most fun I have had is to be a Co-Founder of the Global Academy of Holistic Nursing (The Academy) 2019-2020, followed by serving as the First Chair of the Board of Directors (2020-2023).  From these varied perspectives, I have enjoyed participating in the co-creation of this beautiful community of holistic nurse scholars, sharing our mutual journey of becoming.

Holistic nursing, core to nursing since the time of Florence Nightingale, entered a period of revitalization about 50 years ago when Dolores Krieger (1981) initiated formal explorations of the paradigm of holism. Building on Martha Rogers original work,  Science of Unitary Human Beings (1970, 1988), Krieger’s scholarship initiated a move toward understanding nursing as a way of being, the use of hands as a mode of healing (Kreiger, 1979), and the necessity of understanding the unitary being as nursing focus. Many nurse scholars followed.

The American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) came into being in 1984 under the leadership of Charlotte McGuire , Barbie Dossey, Lynn Keegan, and others for the purpose of supporting nurses practicing from a holistic perspective and creating a certificate program to validate their practice. The American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation (AHNCC)  established standards and began certifying Holistic Nursing in  1995.

ANA recognized Holistic Nursing as a specialty in 2006 and AHNA and ANA co- published the first of guidelines defining the scope and standards of Holistic Nursing in 2007.   The work entitled, Foundations, Competences, and Curricular Guidelines for Basic to Doctoral Holistic Nursing Education, Edition 1 were published in 2017 by AHNCC  to provide standardized guidelines for Holistic Nursing formal educational programs. GAHN was founded March 2020 with the intent of providing a venue for Holistic Nurse scholars to convene, work, strategize best ways to advance Holistic Nursing globally.

As Holistic nursing philosophy, theories, conceptual and practice models emerged, the educational preparation and practice of nurses across the globe evolved. Shifts in expectations of the role of holistic nurses occurred as theoretical scholars articulated and clarified the complexity of holistic nursing and other scholars studied and  validated their perceptions. The depth of knowledge and understanding of the holistic paradigm, within the context of the unitary nature of the helping relationship,. continues to unfold as holistic nursing continues to evolve.

The Founders of GAHN recognizing the significance of this evolution in nursing,  questioned  how we, as a community, might nurture holistic nursing scholars and promote holistic practice in the face of a system that seems to resist change, and instead primarily focused on a mechanistic and biomedical, problem-focused approach to nursing. Recognizing the diverse aspects of scholarship, and resistance in change, The Founders, aiming to expand nursing’s understanding of the essence of scholarship, and an alternative way to think about scholarship needed to create a unique discipline, adopted Boyers model of scholarship as a base to build on. We started with a focus on how nursing praxis within the professional arenas of holistic nursing could be used to enact the mission and purposes of GAHN. The bases described by Boyer,  and selected by GAHN where holistic nurses provide services include clinical practice, serving as an advocate, discovery and validation of knowledge, skills, and attitudes,  and education settings where nurses are nurtured and facilitated to learn  the role of the professional nurse.

During our exploratory dialogues, we focused on: The role of holistic nursing in society;  the importance of supporting and recognizing holistic nursing scholarship as a means for moving forward;  the unique contributions of holistic nursing scholars; and a culture that would provide the environment needed to acknowledge scholars’ contributions to health care transformation.

Through reflective dialogue, and what Helen Erickson calls “back-stage” activities, we outlined the mission, vision, purpose, goals, and values of the Academy. We established processes and policies for recognizing holistic nursing scholars and inducted charter, distinguished, and honorary scholars in 2021. Our inaugural cohort of scholars has continued to develop the framework for the Academy, reaching out to holistic nurses around the world inviting them to put voice to their scholarship as we  welcome them into the Academy. This year we welcomed our third cohort of GAHN Scholars.

Over the past two years, we held Scholarly Dialogues each third Monday, inviting scholars and interested nurses to join us as we continue to explore topics of interest to the community.  The initial dialogues focused on how our community defines and describes holistic scholarship. Out of these dialogues an understanding emerged that scholars integrate the holistic paradigm within their practice, and are creating programs and  models within practice, education, discovery, and  advocacy that transform health care. Honorary Scholars, including Patricia Benner, Jean Watson, and Christopher Johns shared highlights of their scholarship with the community and engaged in dialogue about ways the members could incorporate their ideas through praxis .

As a young  and emerging organization, the members of the Academy share reflections on how their holistic approaches to health care are often challenged by established orthodoxy. Scholars talk about feeling unappreciated for their ideas and unsupported in carrying innovative approaches to holistic care. Upon reflection, through their relationship with GAHN mentors, the application process, and induction as holistic nursing scholars, new inductees recognize they have been engaging in holistic scholarship throughout their careers and express appreciation for acknowledgement of their scholarship by the Academy members.

During the past year, the Academy partnered with AHNCC to provide a series of films and dialogues for members of GAHN, certificants of AHNCC, members of AHNA and the general public, focusing on the characteristics and care needs of marginalized populations. The series was highly attended. As a result, we are developing approaches to making the film series available to a larger audience.

This October, the Academy will be hosting its first International Congress on Holistic Nursing Scholarship. With an international panel of Nursing Scholars our intention is to broaden the dialogue on how holistic nursing scholarship has and continues to contribute to healthcare transformation. The Congress provides us with the opportunity to reach out to holistic nurses around the world.

As we move into our fourth year of becoming, we welcomed Mary Enzman Hines as our Chair and expanded our board to include 3 new directors at large. The future is full of opportunities to support and nurture emerging holistic nursing scholars and influence what Dee Krieger would call a Renaissance in Nursing.

Change is an important aspect of becoming. We hope you will join us as our journey  continues.

Scholarship is the Vehicle, Praxis is the Goal!