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The Journey of an Integrative Nurse Coach 

Enjoy the Dance!

Greetings to my fellow nurse coaches, leaders and healers from around the world!  We are all of these things and much more.  As a Board Certified Nurse Coach and an INCCP graduate, I invite you to join me in the journey.  My evolving Nurse Coaching is a “dance” in progress.    My discoveries of both the field of nursing and coaching have had powerful and transformative impacts on my life. However, like many of you, during the first few years of my nursing career I started to experience frustrations and symptoms of burnout related to the current challenges we are facing in our healthcare system.  At times I felt disempowered in my ability to affect positive changes for greater health, healing and well-being for the patients I served.  So, I want to give a “shout out” to INCA staff as well as other colleagues I have connected with along this journey that encouraged me to find my “own dance”.  You not only helped to reignite my fire for my calling to the nursing profession, but many have helped me broaden my perspective to be able to see those spaces of hope in our paradigm shifting healthcare system.  As Integrative Nurse Coaches we not only have the privilege of providing seeds of hope, healing, health and well-being for individual patients we care for, but collectively we can serve as catalysts for positive systemic changes in our health system which leads to better communities, nations and a world for all of us and for those to come.  WOW, I need to pause for a second, take a breath and absorb that.  How lucky are we to be able to practice both the art and science of nurse coaching that not only contribute to improving the well-being of others, but also bring us to greater awareness and depths of our own well-being.

Since becoming Board Certified, I still face many challenges and barriers towards achieving my professional Nurse Coaching goals; however, unexpected serendipities have come along with my “dance”. I hope by sharing some of my emerging successes and opportunities that it will motivate and connect to the vision each of you have for your Nurse Coaching journey.

In July of 2015, I founded a private coaching practice, Connect Wellness.  It has been and continues to be a slow but steady process in building my client base to provide services for my community.  Through this process of laying a foundation for my practice I have been able to connect with providers in the community and educate them about coaching services. As a result, some are acknowledging the benefit and are beginning to refer patients to me as needed.

My dream is to find ways to make coaching my full-time job. Presently, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working on an inpatient adult psychiatric unit.  Surprisingly, both my nursing and medical leadership in this psychiatric unit have granted me opportunities to explore the use of coaching and holistic interventions with our patient population.   As part of the patients’ treatment we provide daily group sessions. Via group settings, I’m able to explore group-coaching sessions around the topics of hope, exploring one’s health vision and identifying character strengths.   In conjunction with these groups, I’m also able to explore different holistic interventions with our patients such as group mindfulness/relaxation interventions, awareness practices and Mindful movement aka dance groups!  Our patients continue to show gratitude and endorse the value of these types of interventions. I’m grateful to explore and use holistic and coaching interventions in this setting both with groups and individuals as we partner and help promote seeds of hope, health and well-being even in the midst of recovery and stabilization of their mental health conditions.

Another opportunity that arose for me was a part-time position as a psychiatric clinical nursing instructor for a university located in North Carolina.  As I have connected with full-time faculty and administrators in the program the possibility of creating elective courses has surfaced.  They were receptive to my idea of creating an elective “Nurse-Coaching” introduction course for their undergraduate nursing students.  They voiced interest and openness towards creating courses that can add value to their students’ education.  We are in the beginning stages of this process, but there is a real possibility of creating a nurse coaching course and teaching nursing students coaching skills that can transform not only their practice but their own well-being prior to beginning their nursing journey. Hopefully, one day the seeds that could be planted in this course would even trigger them to pursue certification in Nurse Coaching and join the movement.  This is extremely motivating and is highlighting the need and desire for institutions to discover the invaluable roles nurse coaches’ can and will continue to play in our transforming healthcare system.

Because of my deep connection with the emerging and growing fields of both coaching and positive psychology, I decided to pursue a masters’ degree.  This year I enrolled in the University of East London’s MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology Program.  Positive Psychology is an emerging branch of psychology.  It is not replacing traditional psychology, but enhancing what already exists by scientifically studying well-being and what it means to thrive.  I have decided to target my research on nursing burnout and disengagement in hopes to learn how taking a positive psychology approach to these challenges can assist us in confronting, reducing and preventing these real challenges within our profession.  I’m currently in the proposal development stage of research, but what’s emerging is learning how nurses who are aware and engage in their VIA signature strengths at work is correlated with nursing burnout, disengagement and overall well-being. I will keep you up to date as my research advances and hopefully I could even have a few if not all of you participate.  You can visit www.viacharacter.org to take the free survey to discover your unique signature strengths that are core to who you are.

Finally, let me end by saying, thank you for taking the time to read and celebrate my evolving nurse coaching journey.  There are still many challenges, obstacles and barriers that we all face as we continue to promote and provide the healing power of nurse coach relationships throughout our healthcare system and communities.  Another important highlight of my nurse coaching education was the reinforcement of how integral self-care is in our lives.  As nurses, without taking care of ourselves, we will most certainly run on empty in our demanding profession. Physical activity is important in my life; so, I have found it necessary to seek out creative ways to move. One of my favorite and most healing activities is dancing.  Dancing not only helps me create a space to connect to my emotions, but it allows me to express them in creative and non-verbal ways by connecting to the rhythm of the music, my body and my partner.

In closing, remember don’t believe the lie that you can’t dance and to be honest, if your heart is beating then you are already “dancing”. Continue your journey towards greater awareness and understanding of what’s at the core of your life rhythm and dance the night away, both within your personal and coaching life!

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Name
Charles Sanders
City
Durham
State
NC
About / Bio
I was first trained as an Integrative Health Coach by Duke and then found INCA. From there I completed the INCCP program and became Nurse Coach-Board Certified. I am forever honored and grateful to be connected to this wonderful and healing movement of nurse coaches from around the world.

I’ve been a nurse for 7 years and through this journey I have had the privilege to work with many incredible nurses and also honored to serve many precious patients and families. However, even though I feel called to the nursing profession I have had to confront my own nursing burnout, but something keeps drawing me back to this powerful and healing profession. Because of my strong connection to the nursing and coaching profession I have decided to pursue a MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology from the University of East London. As part of my training I will be conducting research to learn how positive psychology approaches can be linked to nursing and other healthcare professional burnout and work engagement. Thank you INCA and fellow nurse coaches who have reignited my fire for the nursing profession. I am excited about the many possibilities that exist for nurse coaches and honored to be a pioneer with fellow like‐minded colleagues as we face the current challenges within our changing healthcare system.



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