Nurse Herbalist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Nurse herbalists may be trained as licensed registered nurses (RN) or as licensed practical nurses (LPN) in addition to receiving specialized training in herbalism. They work in hospitals, clinics, holistic care facilities, private practice or in home health care settings. They educate clients, take vital signs, and make and deliver herbal preparations. Requirements are the same as those of any RN or LPN and also include specialized herbalism training.

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Job Description

Medical herbalists, including nurse herbalists, practice procedures similar to those of conventional medical practitioners. They take the client's history, perform tests and recommend changes in diet, exercise and rest. Unlike conventional medicine, which focuses on illness, herbal medicine focuses on wellness.

Nurse herbalists may work in hospitals, clinics or integrative or holistic health care centers, or they may work with a naturopathic physician or other medical herbalist in private practice. They might also work in home health care or hospice or palliative care.

Job Duties

A nurse herbalist is also either a licensed practical nurse or a licensed registered nurse. Nurse herbalists educate clients about various medical conditions, perform diagnostic tests, analyze the results of diagnostic tests, administer treatments and provide psychological and emotional support for patients and their families. Nurse herbalists use the least invasive medical procedures possible to encourage a patient's healing or continuing good health.

A nurse herbalist may observe and record a client's vital signs and collect samples for testing. If necessary they may assist clients with dressing and undressing, walking, standing, turning in bed or other activities.

Nurse herbalists take a client's full medical history, including making a list of herbs and medicines the client currently takes. A nurse herbalist may prepare herbal tablets, tinctures, infusions or decoctions for a client.

Nurse herbalists must take continuing education courses or continue their education through readings and conferences. Having the most up-to-date information is essential for helping clients make informed choices about their health care.

Requirements

A nurse herbalist may be either licensed practical nurses or registered nurses. There are different requirements for each. LPNs must complete a year-long vocational course. They must also take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN).

Registered nurses typically hold either an associate's degree (usually a 3-year program) or a bachelor of science degree in nursing (a 4-year program). They are also required to pass the NCLEX-RN examination.

In addition to education and licensing as a nurse, a nurse herbalist needs specialized training in herbalism. Interested students should look for an accredited school or certificate program with a specialization in herbalism. Professionals who practice as herbalists often have a master's degree in herbal medicine.

The American Herbalist Guild is one body that promotes professional competency in herbalism. Another is the AHNA, the American Holistic Nursing Association. Although holistic nursing is recognized by the American Nursing Association as a professional speciality, membership in either the AHNA or the American Herbalist Guild is voluntary and no examination is required for membership.

The certification body for traditional Chinese herbal medicine is the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Applicants must meet background requirements of formal education and apprenticeship or on-the-job training, then take and passes three exams, in the foundations of Oriental medicine, Chinese herbology and biomedicine.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov) predicts that jobs for registered nurses in general will grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for registered nurses was $65,470 as of May 2012.

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