I’ll never forget the day I saw a reference to the Integrative Nurse Coach® program on social media. I sat there staring at the screen as my hair stood on end. Was I was reading my own words?
I thought back to articles I had written, words I had whispered, thoughts I had spoken, literally shouted for so many years. And here they were on my Facebook feed inviting me to a radically new idea that I had thought about a thousand times.
“Empower patients to improve their well-being and make better health choices. Provide an alternative to reactionary medicine, Pharma-focused care, and the sick care model. Create more freedom and health.”
I held my breath as I navigated the links—was this legit?
I had walked away from nursing in the mid-90’s totally disgusted with “health care.” I wanted rest, a better career path, more enlightened wellness integration, and frankly an employer that would recognize my contribution and value me as an integral part. I never thought I would return. This was a total travesty in my world.
Nursing was not only my life long chosen career path, but also my legacy.
My father was an endocrinologist in private practice and my mom a geriatric nurse. They met in college and created an amazing health care team for the small Arkansas town where they raised my sister and me. Back in the 80’s I followed my family’s lead and solely focused on a nursing education, graduating at the top of my class.
I had dived into ICU nursing to help humanity at its lowest point.
What I saw changed my life. The majority of afflictions that robbed my patients of their health were not genetic illnesses, accidents, or overdoses. They were largely preventable lifestyle conditions like COPD, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. But by the time they arrived in my unit, it was often too late. If only I could have reached them sooner.
The statistics were sobering:
- 6/10 Americans have a chronic disease.
- 4/10 have two or more.
- Chronic diseases stem from lifestyle choices and amount to $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs. The economics of sick care just didn’t add up. Each patient was a profit center. There were unlimited amounts of drugs, procedures, surgeries, and services to offer and administer that racked up costs. Yet the hospital had no incentive to contain or reduce their profits, or even offer interventions to reverse the disease process. I could see where this was going but couldn’t wrap my mind around the numbers.
I went back to school and enrolled in an MBA program to figure it out. I got hired by a pharmaceutical company, threw away my timecard, and ditched my scrubs for a business suit. My first week on the job I experienced an all-expense paid trip on the corporate jet to a meeting in New Orleans, fully catered with shrimp, party food and all the fixin’s. What a contrast to 12-hour night shifts with a banana at break!
Corporate America was an eye-opening experience and helped me develop skills I had not used at the bedside. My job involved travel and a 60+ hour work week. It also introduced me to the excesses of pharmaceutical spending in the anti-cancer space. I met doctors who told me they would not themselves take the drugs they were prescribing for their patients.
I also came face to face with a fact that troubled me. The general public had a lot of confidence in the drugs they were prescribed. However over 150,000 deaths occur each year even when they were properly prescribed and administered.
My Turning Point
A turning point in my life occurred several years into my tenure in the drug industry. My 54-year-old healthy mother was diagnosed with cancer and died from side effects of the chemotherapy I championed. Five weeks later my first son was born. For the first time in my life, I was face down and unable to function, crippled with fatigue, postpartum depression, and complicated grief.
I’m grateful to say that son survived my crisis. He is now 31 and completing the corporate journey I walked away from. But motherhood changed my heart. And neither nursing nor corporate America could provide the platform I needed to fulfill my calling with the income potential or freedom I needed to be the mother and provider I wanted to be.
A health care executive recently taught me that “health care” is what happens in the hospital and doctor’s office, and “health” is what happens in between.
When my boys were young, I decided to reinvent myself focusing on the “in between” space, helping people avoid the ICU unit so etched in my long-term memory. That led to a 30-year journey from fitness to nutrition and nutrigenomics to cannabinoid science, where I was when Integrative Nurse Coaching came to me via Facebook.
Fifteen years ago, an industry caught my attention due to the leading-edge health products they offered. They taught me how to build a business from scratch, how to believe and invest in myself, and ultimately how to become the type of leader that can affect change in the world. I learned that “leveraged income” is an antidote for the time for money exchange that exhausted me in bedside nursing. It also gave me a taste of financial freedom, something I never knew existed. I realize that my dear father, who died at the office with his lab jacket on, also never knew this type of freedom.
This soul journey was necessary for me to prepare myself for INCA, Cohort 40. I am grateful for this powerful group of nurse influencers who speak the language of medicine and healing, of patient centered education and advocacy. I never knew other nurses believed as I did and were capable of birthing a powerful health movement like this. It has exceeded my expectations in every way.
Having just completed chapter 7 in the Nurse Coaching: Integrative Approaches to Health & Wellbeingtextbook. and seen the Integrative Lifestyle Health and Well Being Model, I am astounded by the collective wisdom. It has taken my entire life to learn and appreciate so many of these enlightened dimensions. To see them assembled in one comprehensive vision from the nursing profession makes me feel that I’ve come home.
My next chapter as an Integrative Nurse Coach™
I am beyond excited for the next chapter as an Integrative Nurse Coach, practicing with a holistic philosophy, and bringing together my previous experience with a new ability to listen and hold space for those around me. We have a proven system for creating conversations and new tools to help clients take back their health destiny. Now is the time to fill the client funnel.
Several years ago, I came back to my home state of Arkansas for a business project and re-met the man of my high school dreams (40 years later). We now live in a small town whose senior community was hit hard by the pandemic. I kept having a dream that I was teaching Line Dancing at the Senior Center in the center of town. It was odd since no one I knew had ever been there and I hadn’t taught fitness classes in several years. But when I finally walked in, introduced myself and told them about my dream, the director with wide eyes handed me their calendar. It prominently featured a Line Dance class for which they had been searching for an instructor for months.
Believing in the power of music, movement, and human connection we started serving our community through a Line Dance class in May 2022. What started with a few seniors has morphed and grown, and we are working to expand the movement to other groups in northwest Arkansas. This last week a newer participant with tears in her eyes said, “I’ve been in this community for 3 years and this is the first time I’ve felt that I have friends.”
On the other side of the pandemic this experience of “collective joy,” which Kelly McGonigal describes in The Joy of Movement, has impacted all who attend. Connection and belonging are two of the most powerful emotions humans can experience. I am experiencing them for the first time within the nursing profession through the INCA community, almost 40 years after the fact.
By combining our various skill sets with the Integrative nurse coach model, I am grateful that we can reclaim our own well-being while leading positive health change in the world.