Expanding the Role of Nurses as Wellness Coaches – 2015

Miller HollyOn Thursday June 18, 2015 Peggy Schmidt and Holly Miller (Cohort 3 INCCP) presented “Expanding the Role of Nurses as Wellness Coaches” at the National Wellness Conference in Minneapolis, MN. We presented there in 2014 with our dear friend and colleague, Joan Scialo-Rubin, on “The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching,” and Joan had submitted this year’s topic with the intention of all three of us presenting it. After Joan’s untimely death in Australia, we were determined to honor her and our commitment to bring this message to the wellness community.

The National Wellness Institute provides a venue for wellness/coaching and just celebrated its 40th anniversary of informing and inspiring leaders in wellness concepts and delivery. The theme for the 2015 conference was “Celebrate Wellness”. The following is a brief outline of the highlights of our presentation; in which we included a group exercise in developing and sharing story lines. Wellness is a word that nursing knew from its’ inception. Yet over the last 40 years we have gotten lost in the business of medicine. Viewing ourselves as teachers, experts and directors of care; we have lost sight of the true healers. Individuals managing personal health conditions have innate healing power; and the therapeutic presence of a nurse coach enhances that capability.

SchmidtpeggyTherapeutic relationship is a concept we learned in our initial nursing education and wrote into our student care plans, but now fail to find it in the choices on the electronic medical record. As nurses we use the therapeutic relationship to help clients identify opportunities and issues related to growth, health and well-being. We recognize the client/patient’s inner wisdom and assist them in formulating their healthcare goals. The time has come to expand our knowing/experiencing of nursing into the coaching arena.
We invite you to reawaken your memories of the inspiration and roots of professional nurse coaching which all began with Florence Nightingale, the foundational philosopher of modern nursing. Florence taught, and nurse coaches understand, the holistic principals of mind, body, emotion, spirit and environment.
Expanding the role of nurses as wellness coaches begins with the four core components of nurse self-development: self-reflection, self-assessment, self-evaluation and self-care. These skills are vital to the Nurse Coach’s therapeutic presence and our ability to assist clients.
Nurse coaches and clients examine the internal and external factors that can contribute to health and well-being. The conditions under which individuals live determine their state of health, disease or illness. Hearing their stories provides a way to connect with their challenges, skills and hopes.
All the stories we have heard from the moment we entered our basic nursing education: every interaction in every health care setting, no matter what our role, impacted our perception of well-being. Nurse Coaching provides legitimacy to the positive change we have been observing when individuals find their healing source: wisdom, strength, self-knowledge and self-understanding. Story is one of the many theories that support our role as nurse coaches.
The nature of nursing education and practice fit well with the expanded role of nurses as wellness coaches. It is a natural extension of our skills. The ability gained through coaching enhances the capacity of nurses to work with individuals, families and communities. The fundamental skills of deep listening and therapeutic presence provided by nurses, assist individuals to take steps to reach their goals, thus achieving a higher level of well-being.
We chose this particular venue because Holly has had a 15 year history of participating and then being certified as a Wellness Practitioner by National Wellness Institute; Peggy became a certified Laughter Yoga leader through this conference. It appeared to be a good fit ideologically. We urge you to consider expanding the awareness of integrative nurse coaching by building, creating and submitting dynamic proposals to national and regional conferences throughout the world!

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