Family Nurse Practitioners and the Use of Holistic Care in Health Care

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are often the first point of contact for patients seeking help and advice on various health issues. They offer personalized care and have a holistic approach, which looks at the physical, emotional, and social aspects of well-being. 

FNPs consider family dynamics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors to develop care plans that look after patients’ current health while aiming to prevent future ailments. There are many ways in which FNPs combine all these factors to improve the health of families.

The role of family nurse practitioners in holistic health

FNPs have the clinical expertise and understanding of their patients’ family dynamics and history. This gives them an advantage in providing high-quality and personalized care. They have extensive training and advanced education that equips them with a broad knowledge of medical issues, which they can use to diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions. 

Choosing the right certification is an important step in a nurse’s advanced education journey. Individuals should research the key differences between the FNP-C vs FNP-BC certification avenues.

FNP-C is best suited to those wanting to focus more on the clinical side of nursing and FNP-BC is for those passionate about research, administration, and leadership in nursing. The key to building the right skills and knowledge to become a certified FNP however starts with selecting the right master’s program that matches your professional goals. 

Carson-Newman University’s online MSN-FNP program for example is an accessible option for aspiring nurse leaders wanting to make a positive impact on the healthcare system. The program is taught by active practitioners, with online coursework in tandem with the clinical component.

Many FNPs today have been trained to look beyond the immediate symptoms and consider various factors that could contribute to a patient’s health. This includes understanding genetic predispositions, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices that families share, which can often help to explain and treat patients.

Combining medical knowledge and an understanding of family dynamics helps FNPs create care strategies that are effective and empathetic; for example, when tackling chronic diseases such as hypertension. 

FNPs can create treatment plans that include medication management and lifestyle modifications encouraging healthier eating habits, increasing activity levels, and looking at the patient’s emotional support systems. This thorough approach complements the treatment plans and can ensure cultural sensitivity and achievable for the individuals.

Using nutrition to prevent and manage chronic diseases

FNPs understand that knowledge is the first step toward healthier lifestyle choices for their patients. They educate families on the benefits of a balanced diet, which includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. 

This balanced approach ensures that all essential nutrients and correct portions are consumed. Instead of completely ruling out any food type, it allows certain foods only as an occasional treat.

FNPs use several strategies to encourage patients and their families to switch to healthy eating habits. Creating a personalized nutritional plan is one approach. The FNP will make suggestions that acknowledge any specific dietary needs and preferences. 

This ensures that the nutritional plan will be more successful than a one-size-fits-all approach that the individuals will discard. They also organize interactive workshops where families participate in the learning process, making nutrition education fun and practical.

Another approach is to set goals. These should be realistic and achievable dietary goals that motivate families to include healthier choices into their daily routines gradually. 

For example, introducing more fruit and vegetables to the diet of someone who eats a lot of junk food can be more successful than getting them to transform their eating habits overnight completely. The FNP will provide regular support and encouragement and then adapt the goals as needed.

One main obstacle for families is that healthy food can seem inaccessible or it may be challenging to understand the nutritional facts. 

FNPs have methods for making plans more manageable for families. This can include simple tactics such as suggesting food portion plates and providing easy-to-understand nutritional charts to help them follow complicated dietary guidelines.

FNPs can also encourage families to use mobile apps and online platforms that provide personalized meal planning, nutritional tracking, and educational resources, making it easier for families to stay on track with their dietary goals.

Connecting families with local community resources such as nutrition or exercise classes, support groups, and farmers’ markets is another way to encourage them. The social setting provides motivation and is often a fun way to maintain or improve their health with like-minded people.

Benefits of exercise on physical health and mental health

Exercise can improve some symptoms of physical health, reduce the risks of other illnesses, and have positive mental health benefits, such as improved mood and confidence. FNPs understand that exercise needs and physical abilities differ for everyone, so they offer tailored recommendations to meet these varying needs.

For children, recommended activities will include those promoting motor skills development, such as running, jumping, swimming, and team sports. Adolescents may be given similar physical activity recommendations. 

However, FNPs might also introduce strength training exercises suitable for this age group to increase physical health and positive self-esteem.

Suggestions for adults can focus on a mix of aerobic and strength-training activities. Typically, this is at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week and may also focus on muscle-strengthening exercises on at least two days. 

For seniors, FNPs are more likely to suggest exercise that maintains or improves balance, flexibility, and strength, such as walking, water aerobics, and tai chi, tailored to the individual’s mobility and health status. Yet, in all these age groups, other factors will be considered.

Some individuals or families may be physically capable of more strenuous activity, while others must build up their fitness first. Then, there could be physical or mental limitations that mean some people cannot do certain activities or they need adaptations and further support.

The takeaway

The holistic approach to family health focuses on connections between physical, emotional, and social well-being. This is important for achieving an overall sense of wellness. Family Nurse Practitioners guide patients, using their expertise to tailor health strategies that address the dynamics and needs of each person. 

Educating families on nutrition and exercise and addressing mental health issues sensitively helps FNPs create healthier communities. Their commitment to a holistic care model ensures that families have the knowledge and support to make informed choices.