What is holistic nursing and what are some of the top programs?

A UCLA study shows that HIV positive patients who practice mindful meditation slow down the reduction of their immune cells that are associated with keeping the virus from propagating.

Nurses frequently find themselves helping to treat their patients' symptoms that are related to a current condition. Holistic nursing takes it a step further and focuses on treating the patient as a whole to heal their mind, body and soul.

Although this may seem like a new idea, Florence Nightingale is considered to be the founder of holistic nursing. Today, it's recognized as a nursing specialty by the American Nurses Association.

» RELATED: Why every nurse should practice mindfulness (and how)

RNs can become certified as holistic nurses after passing the NCLEX-RN. They need to receive continuing education in holistic nursing and then apply for certification through the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation. Finally, they'll need to pass an assessment and exam.

In addition, some schools of nursing offer certification in holistic nursing or a concentration in holistic nursing while earning your degree.

The following six holistic nursing programs are worth checking out:

ExploreUniversity of Connecticut’s School of Nursing

UConn offers a Holistic Nursing Online Graduate Certificate designed for RNs with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The program includes three courses that can be completed within a year and gives students the foundation to take the holistic nursing exam.

ExploreDuquesne University School of Nursing

The AHNCC has endorsed the Duquesne University School of Nursing. The school reinforces holistic ideals and offers ways to prepare for the holistic nursing exam.

ExploreTennessee State University

Tennessee State’s program is designed for working RNs to take online classes on either a full-time or part-time basis. It’s an MSN program with a holistic concentration. For nurses who already have an MSN, a post-graduate certification in this concentration is offered.

ExploreThe University of Maine at Augusta

UMA’s BS program combines modern medicine with the nurturing and healing approach of holistic nursing. The curriculum is designed to be about taking care of patients as well as yourself in a stressful profession. This program is endorsed by the AHNCC.

ExploreFlorida Atlantic University

FAU offers an Advanced Holistic Nursing concentration that is comprised of 33 credit hours. Online study is available for full-time and part-time students, who will earn an MSN degree and be eligible to sit for the Advanced Holistic Nursing exam. Students who already have an MSN can earn a post-master’s certificate in Advanced Holistic Nursing. This program is endorsed by the AHNCC.

ExploreThe Integrative Healing Arts Program

Offered by the American Holistic Nurses Association, this program is a 72-hour continuing nursing education program offered in a retreat setting. It’s designed to prepare nurses to take the AHNCC certification exam.

In addition, practicalnursing.org recommends ways you can incorporate holistic care into your current practice of nursing.