The Extra Touch of Anthroposophic Nursing  

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The International Council of Anthroposophic Nursing Associations is happy to highlight an initiative of its Dutch member, the Dutch Professional Association of Nurses V&VN.  Their recently published paper, Expertisegebied verpleegkundige antroposofische zorg / The area of expertise of anthroposophic nursinging care clearly describes the added value of anthroposophic nursing as a comprehensive offer to patients integrated within the Dutch public health system.

Since 2012, more than 35 ‘Areas of Expertise’ (AoE) have been described by the various departments of the Dutch Professional Association of Nurses V&VN. These AoE detail the different types of care provided by nurses that have an additional specialization, one of which is anthroposophic nursing. Each specialization can be seen as a supplement to the standard Nurse Professional Profile (Lambregts and Grotendorst 2012) (Terpstra et al., 2015). The AoE were developed based on input from the board and members of the relevant departments of V&VN. In addition, a literature review was conducted and there was input from stakeholders and trainers.

In recent years, there have been many worldwide developments in healthcare that have had a direct influence on the competences of nurses with a specialization. With the The area of expertise of anthroposophic nursinging care publication, the Dutch Professional Association of Nurses V&VN aims to give an updated overview of anthroposophic nursing that follows the one of 2007, with consideration to the new developments in the profession.


What is anthroposophic nursing care?

Within anthroposophic medicine, practitioners apply an integrative approach to treatment that extends and enhances health outcomes by looking outside of isolated symptoms towards a more holistic conception of health. The patient is approached not fragmentarily, but as a whole, with their physical, psychological and spiritual health taken into consideration, as well as their environment and social context. Anthroposophic nursing follows the same concept – it is a form of integrative nursing in which, in addition to basic principles of conventional care, anthroposophical insights are also applied. Anthroposophic nurses, in collaboration with doctors and other relevant healthcare team members, formulate the assessment, diagnosis and the treatment plan of their patient with an outlook of the patient’s past, present and future.

‘’Proximity of the nurse and freedom of the patient” is the leading criterion of anthroposophic nursing. The anthroposophic nurse is educated and trained to observe the patient phenomenologically. She/he holds themselves back to allow the patients to be the ones to show and describe the reasons they are seeking care.


Patient interaction

The contact between the nurse and patient becomes a human encounter in an open and healing environment, during which the nurse offers a calm, non-judgmental and listening ear. The anthroposophic nurse observes how the patient looks, moves, breathes and interacts with the environment and the world. Together, they agree on the best healthcare approach – one that is not only based on standard interventions, but that is rather tailored to the individual’s needs. If possible, the nurse first looks for appropriate, non-pharmacological interventions, in dialogue with the rest of the healthcare team. In addition, anthroposophic nursing care uses non-verbal interventions, such as baths, rhythmic massages, wraps and compresses.


The added value of anthroposophic nursing to healthcare systems

To assess the added value of anthroposophic nursing, we can look at its “additional”, “enhancing” and “different” qualities, compared to conventional nursing.

In anthroposophic nursing, “additional” to the conventional practices are the applications of compresses and wraps, therapeutic washings, baths and massages.

Enhancing” conventional care is the person-centered approach that includes consideration of biographic aspects, focuses on prevention and provides spiritual support.

Different” from conventional care is the overall anthroposophic understanding of illness, health and healing elements.

For the moment, anthroposophic nursing is not cheaper within the Dutch healthcare system. However, its expectations of more reliability and self-responsibility by the patients can reduce the costs of healthcare in the future, as they are guided to improve their lifestyle habits and focus on better prevention. If an authority asks whether they should finance or support anthroposophic nursing, the answer is yes, because of its added value for patients and society as a whole. The patients must be at the center of any decision and must be the ones that define the added value from their experience and expectations, something that is clearly described in The area of expertise of anthroposophic nursinging care publication.



About The International Council of Anthroposophic Nursing Associations
The International Council of Anthroposophic Nursing Associations (ICANA) is the umbrella organization for all national Anthroposophic Nurses Associations. ICANA supports its members in developing Anthroposophic Nursing within their national health systems. It also promotes and sponsors the International Forum for Anthroposophic Nursing within the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science.