Leaders in integrative health and healing

July 11, 2018
Two women treat an elderly patient.

As a critical care nurse at Woodwinds Hospital, Annika Blaine was nearing the end of options to help an elderly patient cope with migraine pain. So she offered the patient reiki, an energy therapy that involves light touch. “She said it was the first time she felt relaxed in weeks and she was going to try to access it once she got home,” says Blaine.

Blaine learned how to provide reiki as a student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program’s integrative health and healing specialty. “As I took more integrative health classes, I found a lot of use for the skills I learned in my own clinical practice as a nurse,” says Blaine. Like others in the integrative health and healing specialty, she is seeking to provide a more holistic approach to wellness.

Students learn about integrative therapies—like aromatherapy, acupressure, healing imagery, and meditation—in the three-year, full-time DNP program, which includes specialty courses offered through Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing. They also complete more than 1,000 practicum hours at clinical sites, which include hospital, long-term care, and clinic settings.

When the school began offering the specialty in 2009, it was the first in the nation to offer it as a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. “The School of Nursing has really demonstrated remarkable leadership to integrate content on integrative health into the curriculum,” says Mary Jo Kreitzer, who founded the Center for Spirituality and Healing in 1995 and is a professor at the School of Nursing.

Graduates of the program have taken positions as educators, clinicians, and health care administrators in a variety of settings. The center holds nursing salons two or three times a year, which give graduates of the program, students, and other practitioners a chance to get to know each other and learn. “It has been incredibly powerful,” says Kreitzer. “We really aspire to grow a community of integrative health nurses.”