Holistic Nurse & Nurse Coach Board Certifications – Quick Study Guide

If you are a nurse who has chosen a career path involving holistic health and wellness or nurse coaching, then you may be considering board certification in either of these areas…. maybe even both. You likely are in the process of or have completed an accredited Holistic Nursing or Nurse Coaching Program and have been made aware of all the requirements set forth by the AHNCC needed to pursue board certification. 

Preparing for the board certification exam may seem difficult, scary, stressful, and overwhelming; however, you managed to get through the pains of taking the NCLEX… and that turned out great! Take a deep breath and reflect on that moment. What did you do to prepare for the NCLEX? Did you have a study schedule, or was it a very chaotic process? 

Everyone has their own way of studying, but in case you struggle with that, here is a quick guide to help you study for the Holistic Nursing and/or Nurse Coaching board certification. 

Getting Started

Effective studying starts with a structured plan. Knowing what, where, when, and how you are going to study is crucial to your success. Once you have a plan, then following through with the plan consistently is a matter of achieving a goal driven mindset. 

Structuring a Plan:

  • What are you studying? This sounds rather silly because you already have or are going through a holistic program for nurses. Gathering the information you need to study gives you an idea of the amount study time to plan, determining what you feel you need to learn more about, and organizing your study materials in manageable chunks. 
  • Where you study is very important. Having a place free of interruption, comfortable but not overly comfy, quiet or having non-distracting background noises like sounds of nature or focus music set the scene for you to succeed. The idea is to have a designated place to study where you can focus.
    • Not everyone has a home office that they can just close the door and get to work. You might use your bedroom and sit at a desk (a bed might be too comfy) …. or you may feel you focus better studying at a library or quiet cafe sipping your favorite beverage.  
    • Tip: If you are studying in place where distractions are inevitable, it’s always a good idea set boundaries. Put up a do not disturb sign or post your office hours. 
  • When will you find the time to study? A daily/weekly schedule is a must. That does not mean you have to study every day, but scheduling study time ensures consistency. So, whether you have a planner or a digital calendar, you can find a structured time that works for you. 
    • Tip: If you can find a daily planner with a large note area to journal, you can make notes of what works and what doesn’t and then adjust your schedule accordingly. day window 
  • How do you study? The question is knowing what your study style is. Some like to take notes and review, others like to have a partner. Some like to chunk their materials and bite off little pieces while others like to focus on what they need to work on the most. The important thing is that you know what style works best for you. 

Example: I always start with a grounding exercise to get into the appropriate mindset. Posting my office hours on the door lets everyone in the house know I am not available until “X” time. I take healthy snacks into my office like vegetables or an apple for brain power and it also helps to stay focused when your stomach is not growling. When it comes to “cracking” the books, I “Eat That Frog” because I know I procrastinate when I lack interest in certain subjects like learning all the theories (they are important, but not my favorite). Studying alone has its benefits, but it’s also nice to collaborate with fellow cohorts and learn from each other. 

Putting it all Together

Now that you have a planned structure for studying, take a moment and reflect. You have all your study materials, your desired place to study, and your schedule created to include study time…. so, when do you plan to start? What does this look like to you? Did you use S.M.A.R.T. goals to achieve your plan? 

Solidifying a start date within a S.M.A.R.T. goal creates accountability. Studying should ideally be happening along with your program and most of your additional studying should be to revisit those areas you may have struggled with. 

Once your application for the exam is accepted, you will have a 90-day window to take the exam. This will also excite you because now it’s “real”.

Lastly, but most important…. take time for self-care. Getting enough sleep, taking breaks, going out in the fresh air, stretching, or any other ways you practice self-care should be incorporated into your daily schedule. 


“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.”

―  Earl Nightingale, author


PS… did you know that Integrative Nurse Coach® Certificate Program alumni get free access to a Nurse Coach Board Certification review course with dozens of practice questions and a succinct guide to follow?

Lisa Landis

Lisa is an adult wellness nurse in a family practice by day and a freelance health content writer by night….and Saturday morning. She is passionate about her career because she gets to do what makes her happy, help others and write.
Lisa is still actively involved with her INCA alumni and meets monthly with her cohorts and pursuing her board certification in Nurse Coaching.

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