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8 hours $7.98
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30 hours $4.98

Holistic and Integrative Health: An Introduction

1.5 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to provide today’s health care professional and interested individuals with an introduction to the differences between CAM and integrative health, and a review of evidence-based research about integrative health, integrative medicine, and CAM.
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The past several decades have brought tremendous growth in the numbers of health care facilities and providers offering integrative health care training and services. Consumers in the United States use these complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in greater numbers than ever before. Why is this occurring? How do integrative medicine and traditional medicine differ in their approach to care from conventional Western medicine? What integrative health care practices do practitioners and patients use?

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Define complementary medicine, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, and integrative health.
  • Describe how extensively integrative therapies are used in the United States today.
  • Examine the defining principles of integrative health care.
  • Describe the history of the development of integrative health care.
  • Describe the four criteria of conventional Western medicine.
  • Describe the shared elements of complementary and alternative medicine and integrative medicine.
  • Examine the profound shifts in culture, science, technology, and communication that shaped the philosophy of complementary and alternative medicine.
  • Describe elements of success for health care organizations that want to incorporate integrative health into their range of provided services.

The philosophy of integrative medicine is not a new philosophy. It has been discussed for a long time across many healthcare disciplines but has been overlooked by providers of accepted medical care for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are its philosophical differences when compared to allopathic medicine (Rakel & Weil, 2017).

However, in the past two decades, clinical centers and hospitals providing integrative medicine, nursing and medical schools teaching integrative strategies, and researchers studying integrative interventions have increased in numbers, and so have those individuals seeking integrative health care (The Bravewell Collaborative, 2012). This surge in information and the delivery of integrative care has been driven, in part, by consumers demanding better access to care, a more integrative and personalized (as well as personal) approach to their healthcare services, and improved care. It has also been the result of healthcare providers and consumers recognizing the benefits of combining the “external, physical, and technologic successes of curing with the internal, nonphysical exploration of healing” (Rakel & Weil, 2017, p.2).


Most individuals have seen the words “integrative,” “allopathic,” “alternative,” “holistic” and “complementary,” but what do they really mean?

Integrative medicine is a term used to describe medicine that assimilates (or “integrates”) conventional Western healthcare therapies (also called allopathic care) with non-conventional therapies. It combines ancient healing wisdom with modern science, and it takes into account the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. Integrative health care is patient-centered care with collaboration between patients and practitioners, and among practitioners themselves (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NCCIH], 2017a).

Allopathic/conventional therapies are those medical, surgical, pharmacological, invasive and noninvasive diagnostic procedures most commonly used in Western medicine (NCCIH, 2017a).

The terms complementary and alternative are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two different approaches to care (Mariano, 2013; NCCIH, 2017a; Rakel & Weil, 2017).

  • Complementary refers to therapy that is used in conjunction with conventional treatment.
  • An alternative therapy is used instead of a conventional therapy.

Bright (2002) notes that “complementary/alternative therapies cover a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies that conventional Western medicine does not commonly use, accept, study, understand, or make available” (p. 7). Some CAM therapies are also called holistic because they address the whole person, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual facets (Bright, 2002).

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Domain of OT

Course Expires:

September 11, 2021

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.