60: Caring for the Caregivers- Renee Panec, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC, CCM, CPHQ

About Renee Panec

Renee Panec, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC, CCM, CPHQ

As an RN with over 35 years of experience, Renee has seen and experienced many changes and challenges in our healthcare system. She worked bedside in med-surg, tele and oncology units, skipping too many meals, caring for too many patients and having too little time.
She is also knowledgeable in chronic care management and understands the ‘insurance’ side of healthcare as a care and case manager. In addition to her nursing career, Renee is a wife and a Mom who has experienced the personal challenge of being a family caregiver and the very real grief that comes with caregiving.



Caring for the Caregivers- Renee Panec, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC, CCM, CPHQ Highlights

“It brings up a lot of feelings, too, in caregivers in terms of not only overwhelm, but they may be sad about their current situation. They may experience feelings of… really of grief, of that loss of the life that they anticipated living. And now it’s going to be a very different kind of life.

And it’s often unacknowledged.  From whatever kind of life they’ve been living, whether they were professionals and had a professional job, or if they were a mom home with the kids, it’s still huge.” ~Renee Panec, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC, CCM, CPHQ

Ah-ha Moments

  • What happens to the caregiver when a patient is discharged home, and they must do everything else they were doing AND care for their loved one?
  • Are you pouring from an empty cup? What can you do to love and support yourself? What can you do for you?
  • It’s ok to ‘bloom where you’re planted’ and use your skills exactly where you are, without feeling you need to change anything.
  • Not sure where to begin, or who you want to work with?  Begin where you are. You have experience with something that others may not have.
  • What stories have you been telling yourself that hold you back?  How could those stories be shifted to support you and what you want today?
  • How can you nurture yourself to grow into who you want to be?
  • Embrace your power Nurse… you have healing abilities filled with love, give it to yourself and then share it with others.

Links and Resources

Join Caring 4 Caregivers Facebook Group here

Integrative Nurse Coach® Certificate Program

Listening with HEART blog

Bloom Where you’re Planted Nurse Coach blog

Whole Health Nursing, Inc.

Email: Renee@wholehealthnursing.com

Caring for the Caregivers- Renee Panec, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC, CCM, CPHQ

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

Welcome, everyone, to the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! podcast. My name is Nicole Vienneau. I am your host, and I’m also a Board Certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And today we have a special guest all the way from Placerville, California. Renee Panec is a Health and Wellness Nurse Coach, Board Certified.

She is starting her own business, so she’s becoming a new entrepreneur. And her passion is helping caregivers— everyone from Nurses to the unpaid and under-appreciated family caregivers. They’re the backbone of our healthcare system, and they’re often not recognized. And Renee has been developing some programmings, a mix of online and real time Nurse Coaching.

And she just wants to be able to support all the caregivers, to help them understand that they are so incredibly worthy, that they have to care for themselves in order to be able to care for other people. And she’s been doing a lot of really, really great things.

And I see you, Renee. I see you doing all the new things, becoming an entrepreneur. And I know this podcast will be full of many, many nuggets as you get to share your story with all of us, and we get to listen to it. So welcome, Renee.

Renee Panec  01:17

Thank you, Nicole, it’s great to be here. You’ve had so many amazing guests, I hope I can give the same kind of encouragement and support that I’ve received from your other podcasts.

Nicole Vienneau  01:28

Well, that’s why you’re here, so you can share your story. Everyone’s story is so unique. And we know that, as Nurses, as Nurse Coaches, that the story is where it’s at. It’s how we’ve learned so much, and how we can relate to each other, too.

Renee Panec  01:43

And really, that’s one of the things I’ve loved about Nursing, is that there’s so much opportunity to connect with people who are outside of your normal social contacts. And, you know, everybody has different stories in their lives going on. And people are often at such a vulnerable point in their life, but they still share so much. And it’s just… I’ve learned so much from so many different patients.

Nicole Vienneau  02:11

Yes. And now we get to learn from you. Yes. So we love to go down history lane and love to ask the question how did you discover Nursing?

Renee Panec  02:22

You know, I was young, I was in high school. I started, you know, when you start thinking about what you want to be, right? And everybody’s asking you that question like every other day, right? And I really loved my science classes. I was taking an anatomy and physiology class, and I loved biology. And I thought, oh, Nursing is what will be… that would be a great job.

You know, Nurses are always in demand, and they’re well thought of and, you know, sounded like you can make enough money as a Nurse. So I was like… I started telling people I was gonna be a Nurse, and everyone was like, oh, that’s fantastic. And you could just see them kind of, you know, check off that box, you know, like, this one’s solved! Check! On to the next!

There really… I didn’t have any Nurses or health people in my family. So when I said I was going to be a Nurse, I was really clueless as to what that really meant. And after high school, I went to a local community college, I went through the program and got my associate’s degree in Nursing.

And even though it took longer than, you know, I thought a two year program would take, I was still not even 21 when I graduated with my AA in Nursing and took my boards and all that. So when I got my first job as an IP, in an interim permit, I think is what they called it, and you could work before you got your actual official notice from the state boards that you had passed.

So I started at a local community hospital, medium sized, but it was also a trauma facility. And I was put on nights like most of the new people were. And it was a 20 bed unit. And I worked on that unit with one LVN.

Nicole Vienneau  04:05

Back in the day, that’s the way they used to do things, right?

Renee Panec  04:07

Back in the day. Yeah. Glass IV bottles. We used glass thermometers, so yeah.

Nicole Vienneau  04:15

Right? Glass thermometers, glass IV bottles. Yeah, so you’ve gotten to see, then, so much in your career.

Renee Panec  04:26

Yeah, there’s definitely been, you know, so many changes in healthcare, and you know, how hospitals work. But I remember, even all that time ago, we were talking about, you know, the Nursing shortage, and there was still abuse, like all the same conversations around Nursing and that there was never enough Nurses.

And you know, there was always too much stress and too many things to be done and not enough time to do it. And that seems to be still the story today. So some things have changed a lot and some things are just still, seems to be, exactly the same.

Nicole Vienneau  04:26

Yeah, even those years ago, we were faced, as healthcare providers, healthcare, well, Nurses, as Nurses, faced with so much stress and so little time to do all the things that we really have to do and really want to do for our patients, especially. Yeah, and so this ties in then to how you are evolving as a human and realizing that caregivers are really struggling.

Renee Panec  05:31

Caregivers are really struggling, they really are, Nicole. You know, we talk about… we look at Nursing from or caregiving from the Nursing point of view, and where we’re seeing patients stay for a shorter length of time, you know, they come in sicker, they go home sicker still.

But we haven’t really talked about, you know, what happens when these patients who are still sick, sometimes pretty significantly ill still, or still really recovering, go home. And, you know, we’re happy when we send them home, and they seem to have a good family situation, and there’s somebody there to help them.

And we think, oh, good, everything’s done. But I know in all my time as a bedside Nurse, even though I don’t work at bedside now, that, you know, I never really gave any thought to what the caregiver was going to be dealing with, except in terms of how that would affect my patient. So the focus is always on have we trained the caregiver?

Have we taught them what they need to know? Is that a safe environment for patients? But never have thought about, you know, how that caregiver is going to manage taking care of this patient, as well as everything else going on in their lives.

Nicole Vienneau  05:35

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us, as Nurses, don’t think of that. I mean, truly. You think, oh, well, yeah, they have a supportive family, we have a plan of action, they’re gonna go home. And now someone else is having to care for them, in addition to all the other things that they’re doing,

Renee Panec  07:08

Right, it’s like well, I taught them their medications and their, you know, how to check the blood sugars and how to do the dressing change. You know, I did good. I even you know… they did a return demo, we’re all good. And then they go home, and whoever’s on the other side is suddenly dealing with all the intricacies of things that you really can’t get to in discharge planning and training.

There’s, you know, all the complexities that we deal with as Nurses that they’re dealing with not as Nurses. Just as you know, a family, you thought sure, I could take this on, I can do this. That’s not too hard. Look, she did it really easy. Right? And the next day, it’s different.

Nicole Vienneau  07:48

The next day, it’s different. Exactly. Yeah, for the caregiver, seeing Nurses do their checks and everything like that is so simple when we’re doing something, because, well, you just said, you know, you went to school for all those years, and we went to school for all those years, and then we’ve been practicing for decades.

And then we’re showing people something that is so simple to us, and yet the intricacies of what they have to do, and then they take that home with them, and then try to do it and replicate what we’ve shown them but in their own environments, it then changes everything completely.

Renee Panec  08:25

Right. And then we don’t often take into account either all the other activities that happen at home that are not happening in the hospital. So things as simple as, you know, we’re checking the blood sugar, but we’re not cooking the breakfast too. You know, we have trays that come to the floor, and you know, we may deliver them or maybe the dietary delivers them, but the food’s ready.

At home you’re balancing that, you’re preparing the meal, giving the insulin, you know, doing all that, as well as the simple things like doing the extra laundry for a patient who is maybe soiling linens frequently. And you know, as busy as we are as Nurses in the hospital, we still just put those in a container and they get taken away.

We don’t have to do that part, thank goodness, you know, but of course at home you are. So there’s a lot of things built into our hospital jobs that aren’t there when the patient gets home. And that’s part of what they’re juggling as well.

And so we may have other patients to take care of too, they also… these family caregivers also have a variety of other responsibilities. They may still be working and juggling how to do this while they’re working. Then they have other individuals in the household, either other adults or kids or teens that also need time and attention and care, as well as the household itself that needs to keep functioning.

Nicole Vienneau  09:49

Yeah, a whole width and breadth of many tasks that have to get accomplished, and still give that person— their new patient, in a sense, even though it’s a family member, right, but they become their patient— and that overwhelming sense of having to do it all alone.

Renee Panec  10:09

And this can be, just like you said, really overwhelming, especially, you know, first coming home from the hospital. And you know, you’re not sure how to do all these different things. And things are always a little bit different at home.

And if it’s a short term thing where your loved one is going to shortly recover, they had a surgery and you know, in a week, they’re going to be doing better and doing more on their own, most people can manage that, you know, with minor changes in their life, in their household, to get through that, you know, initial change. Where it gets really tough is where this is a continuing condition that isn’t going to improve.

So whether we’re talking about something like sending home a patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or you know, a chronic condition like a COPD, or you know, a cancer diagnosis that’s going to continue to evolve over time and that may not get better, you’re bringing a lot more uncertainty and a lot greater needs for both immediate care and for ongoing care.

Where it seemed like it was doable for a short term, now you’re thinking I’m going to be doing this every day for as long as you can foresee.

Nicole Vienneau  11:24

Yeah, it changes the way that you would live your life.

Renee Panec  11:27

Yeah, I mean, I think any of us, if we think about how busy we are in our life now, and then add something like that into your life and think about how that would affect everything that you do, from you know, going to the grocery store, or taking a walk or going to whatever, socialize, whatever kind of things fill your life now, and then add in daily, constant responsibility of caring for another adult.

Nicole Vienneau  11:55

Yeah, it totally shifts the way that you would be living your life. And in a sense, you’re almost having to relearn how to live this life with these new responsibilities too.

Renee Panec  12:10

Right. And that brings up a lot of feelings, too, in caregivers in terms of not only overwhelm, but they may be sad about their current situation. They may experience feelings of… really of grief of that loss of the life that they anticipated living. And now it’s going to be a very different kind of life.

And it’s often kind of unacknowledged. As I said, caregivers, you know, from whatever kind of life they’ve been living, whether they were professionals and had a professional job, or if they were, you know, a mom home with the kids, it’s still huge.

And you may be educated and practiced and very competent at your other tasks, but now you’re faced with something that you’ve never been trained to do. And you don’t really have the support system in place of people who have dealt with what you’re dealing with and can understand and appreciate it.

Nicole Vienneau  13:10

Yeah, the thing that just popped into my mind was… I think of when you become pregnant and you have… you know, you’re anticipating, you’re anticipating that you would have a baby. And hopefully everything works out that you do have a baby in the end, but you have these nine months to prepare for something.

And then when it happens, you still don’t know what’s going on. But this is different, because some of these things… obviously, illness is not planned, we don’t plan for such things to happen. And so there is no preparation for something like this.

Renee Panec  13:51

Exactly. And making that transition from, you know, whatever your life was to what it’s going to be now. You know, if you’re bringing home somebody in your family who’s had, you know, was in a bad motor vehicle accident and now they have a brain injury and the person you remember is now very different from the person who’s living in your house.

And every day is different. And figuring out how you’re going to live your life and care for this person is not really talked about as part of our discharge plans.

Nicole Vienneau  14:24

No, no, it’s not. And then the support after, you know, when they have moved on, is also not a large piece of how we support and honor people who are going through this new life transition. So then this brings me to the next question is how is it that you decided to combine your skills in Nursing, your skills in Nurse Coaching, and then move into this realm of wanting to practice and support the caregiver?

Renee Panec  14:59

Well, you know, as you’re going through Nurse Coaching, and you’re thinking about where your skills lie, who you want to help, I think I touched on a lot of different areas, because I do have experience in doing health Coaching with patients with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart failure as well.

And initially, I thought I would do… you know, focus on chronic conditions and help people who are dealing with that kind of thing. But I really became aware of the challenges caregivers experience from my own life, from being a family caregiver, myself. And one of the things that has been said was, you know, so many times we’re talking about this is, you know, start where you are.

And where I am right now is… and where I have been, is a family caregiver. You know, when I first discovered Nurse Coaching, I was looking for something that would definitely improve my skills from a Nurse Coaching perspective, from a health Coach perspective.

But I was really at a low point and feeling totally burned out and overwhelmed with family caregiver responsibilities. My oldest son had been diagnosed with a mental health issue. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. And that is, you know, it’s a terrible diagnosis. It’s like combining, you know, schizophrenia with a major mood disorder like depression.

And dealing with a young adult at the time, who was, you know, being given this terrible diagnosis, he was trying to become independent adult while the whole world no longer made sense. And just pouring so much of my time and my energy and my hope and my determination into him, into helping him be stable and have a living space that was stable, and to get the care that he needed to, to live his best life.

And, you know, still being there for my husband and my younger two sons as well. And talk about trying to pour from an empty cup, it was like, my cup wasn’t just empty, it had holes in the bottom. So it’s like, no matter how much I thought I could put into it, it didn’t matter. It was just all running… it was just all running out.

And I had signed up, I found this thing about INCA. And I talked to Jan, and did the intake with her. And I was just like, I really want to do this. But I talked to my husband, and you know, you had to be away from the house for like, the initial days. I don’t remember even how many days it was, if it was two days… it must have been four days, I think.

It was a four day initial thing. And just being away for that long seemed like that would be impossible. My husband said no, you need to go do that. Because he could really see how much I was struggling. So, you know, when I went into… how I combined it was just this going… looking back at the beginning, when I started going through the INCA program, was as an empty caregiver.

And looking back from it now, it seems like well, of course that’s where I need to be, because that’s what brought me into it, was this feeling that I was empty, that there was nothing there for me. And what I learned from going through the program was not what I thought I needed to learn.

You know, I went into it thinking very concrete skills, like, you know, the motivational interviewing and their rapid action plans and, you know, these very concrete kind of… I mean, maybe not exactly concrete, but you know, things.

And what I took out of it was this need for self care I had not really recognized, that I did not know that what I was doing for myself that I thought was enough, was not even anything, was not nearly what I needed to have in my life at that time. Yeah, it was really, really hard. And I came back with this shift in perspectives of what I needed, and how important that was.

Nicole Vienneau  19:34

Thank goodness for your loving, supportive husband to say yes, you need to go.

Renee Panec  19:39

Yeah, he’s amazing. And he has given me so much and it’s one of the true blessings in my life, is to be in a relationship with that where he is truly concerned and supportive of my caring nature. He recognizes that’s who I am.

Nicole Vienneau  20:00

Yes, we all need support systems. So that’s a huge strength that you can bring along with you.

Renee Panec  20:06

It is. Absolutely.

Nicole Vienneau  20:08

It is. So you realized when you were taking the Integrative Nurse Coach® Academy’s Nurse Coach programming that you were like, okay, well, I came here to learn these skills and tools. And yes, you learned those. And in addition, you learned something you didn’t think you needed.

Renee Panec  20:27

They had us sit down and meditate that first morning. I was like, what am I doing? Why am I sitting here and breathing, there’s things I need to learn, you know? And it was so hard to step away from that. And I was like, okay, fine, we’ll do this meditation thing, and then we’ll get into it.

And then we did journaling. And it was, you know, all these things that I recognize now, you know, that were wonderful and really good, and really helped me to connect to what I needed. But at the time, I was like, when is the program really going to start? We’re never going to get to it.

Nicole Vienneau  21:12

I’m laughing right alongside you, because definitely the same things popped in for me, too, when I was taking the program.

Renee Panec  21:20

Yeah, yeah, that was fully… that was not what I was expecting at all. And even as we started to break up into, you know, pairs to talk about, or to practice the Coaching, and to do these other things, it was like, every time we started, it’s like, I would just end up crying.

No matter who my Coach was, no matter what the subject was, it always came back to, you know, to what I was dealing with right then and there and how, you know, really desperately I needed that support and that time away and that ability to learn these skills— that time to learn those skills of self-care.

Nicole Vienneau  22:01

Why do you think that is? That you found yourself, every time, that you were— you know, we broke up into pairs, we’re practicing our skills— why do you think it is that it ended in tears for you?

Renee Panec  22:15

I think it was the first people I’ve really been able to talk to about what was really, really going on in my life, and how it was affecting me on a really deep level. And you’re surrounded by, you know, these amazing other Nurses who are there to become Nurse Coaches, but really, they already are.

They have that heart and that spirit there. And that’s what they shared with me, was so much understanding and support and healing— real healing. And this whole room was filled with this… this different energy that you don’t experience out in the real life unless you create it intentionally. And it was there in abundance. And my heart was so, you know, raw, and it just responded to everybody’s nurturing.

Nicole Vienneau  23:12

The open heartedness of Nurse Coaches.

Renee Panec  23:16

Yes, exactly. And it was that role… I don’t remember what the whole acronym stands for, but it was like listening with heart. And you had that role, that feeling that you were really being heard on multiple levels, that not just your words were being heard, but that people were, you know, really taking the time to join you in that moment, and in that pain.

And it’s like, you have family and you have friends, but it’s like, what you share in those moments, you know, is different, at least for me. And I’ve grown a lot to in learning how to be more authentic myself.

And that’s one of the things too, that’s come out of Nurse Coaching, is that, you know, learning to share who I am authentically and, you know, with more honesty than I was able to do before, because there’s a lot of stigma still around mental illness issues.

And having my beautiful son, who was loved by so many people who had, you know, he hadn’t experienced any of these, you know, terrible traumas that so many people in our world do, who have, you know, who also had mental illness, but, you know, he was just loved in a family, in his core family. And you know, we were still experiencing that.

And it was hard for us to understand and to be able to share it in a way that other family members or friends could understand it. It was really hard.

Nicole Vienneau  24:51

Thank you for sharing this time of your life and the struggles that you went through and finding this community of Nurse Coaches to help support you. And in the end, you know, you’re really taking these skills away to your place, to your home. And you know, you have to then figure out how those new skills are going to fit into your life as you transition into that.

And I have a question in just a moment. I just wanted to just bring into listening with heart that you brought up earlier. I’m going to share a link in the show notes about this. Because listening with heart, the acronym HEART, I believe H stands for healing. E is energy. A is awareness. R is resiliency. And T is transformation.

Renee Panec  25:45

Oh, yes. And I think without even remembering the acronym I touched on several of those.

Nicole Vienneau  25:52

You sure did.

Renee Panec  25:52

You know, by the words. So, yeah.

Nicole Vienneau  25:55

Yeah. And how those… that intention makes you feel too.

Nicole Vienneau  25:59

So true. So good. So, after you learned all the skills… Tell us what cohort you were in.

Renee Panec  25:59

Well, and it’s always… it’s a term that I’ve used even before INCA, when I was talking to people who are having a hard time listening. Sometimes, like, for instance, my son, he would get very caught up in the exact word that was being said, and he was frustrated that I wasn’t using it in the same way that he was.

There was a conflict in the definitions. And I would just be, just listen to my heart, you know, this is what I’m telling you from my heart, you know, don’t get so caught up in the definitions that you can’t hear what I’m saying.

And so I think that’s why that term really, you know, resonated with me is because I do feel like we really have to set aside sometimes our pre conceived ideas of what people are saying or what words mean, even, and listen to, you know, what they’re really communicating to us on all the different levels.

Renee Panec  26:23

I started with one cohort, and I had to finish with a different one. So I think I started with 16. And I finished with 18.

Nicole Vienneau  27:13

Yeah, so you’ve been doing… you’ve been in the Nurse Coaching world for a few years now.

Renee Panec  27:19

Yes, a long time.

Nicole Vienneau  27:21

I think they’re in the 40s now in the cohorts. And so you settled in with these skills for many years, and you were using them in the role that you were in. I call that bloom where you’re planted, right? You’re using… you’re staying in the role that you’re in, and you are using the skills and tools and new reflections and self learning and growing with that.

And of course life happens and new experiences happen. And, you know, you’ve gone through different things in your life, and you’re moving into this new realm of becoming an entrepreneur.

Renee Panec  28:08

Yeah, so it has taken me, like you’ve said, it’s taken me a while to get back to being here. I think being an entrepreneur is something that’s always been in my heart. Even though, you know, in Nursing, it wasn’t really something you ever heard of with Nursing when I started Nursing. If there were entrepreneurs in Nursing, I have no idea who or where they were.

But you know, there may have been a few bold people starting out there. But I didn’t know of any roles for Nursing. So when I started with INCA, that was definitely one of my hopes at the time— to use these skills to be an entrepreneur. The timing wasn’t right.

And although… and I’ve taken a lot of… kind of like half steps forward over these years to thinking, okay, I’m going to start now, maybe I’m not going to start now. And pulling back and doing, you know, still working on those skills but working on, you know, like you said, where you’re planted.

So at home, at my current job, you know, in my community, and sharing in small ways who I am and what I’m doing and how I can help people. And life for everybody over the last year or so been has been really challenging. And it was really challenging for us as well. We lost our oldest son about four and a half years ago— my son with mental health issues.

And you know, needless to say, that was another area that just tore the rug out from underneath us. And you know, you can’t even think about breathing. It’s like you can’t… you don’t have any energy for anything else. All you can do is, you know, wait, and just keep moving on as best as you can.

And our path through this grieving has been, you know, really complicated. It was complicated with his illness, by how we lost him, and then right after that we went into the pandemic. So there was kind of events on top of events. Now I’m finding myself in a new place in where I am, and I don’t think you ever really heal from this kind of grief.

But I find that I’m better at integrating what I’ve learned about myself and my experiences. And I’m really finding that what brought me to Coaching in the first place is this idea of helping… of being a caregiver who needed help, and looking around and seeing so many other caregivers who are struggling so much, and thinking, how can I help support these people the way I was supported when I went through INCA?

I think as Nurses, our natural inclination is to reach out to people, to want to see them healed, and, you know, living healthier lives. And that’s where I’m at now, is that I want to reach out to these people and help them and to find ways to live their life where they’re at now, but with better health, more happiness, joy. And to do that I have to also be open about, you know, the challenges.

It’s not, you know, we can’t make that part of life go away, there’s not a magic wand that I can wave that’s going to take away those challenges in your life. It’s going to be about, you know, finding a way to nurture yourself while dealing with those challenges. So even though while you’re dealing with it, you can still experience yourself as a full human being. I don’t know, I feel like I may have gotten a little off track with that question.

Nicole Vienneau  31:52

I don’t think so at all, I think that was a beautiful, a beautiful connection to the very unique paths that we each have. And, you know, your loss of Nathan, and how that deep loss affected you in so many ways.

And yet, you said, I started looking around when you were able, when you were able to look around, and you could see so many other people who were in similar situations, who didn’t have the support that you felt that you had during those times. And now you’re standing up to say, these are the people that I want to help.

Renee Panec  32:35

Yeah, you know, I just feel like maybe in the future there’ll be other areas of people, too, that I identify with and want to help, but right now this is, I feel, where my heart is really calling me, to support people who are going through, you know, various caregiver struggles, because there’s a lot. There’s so many people in our society right now who are currently caregivers, or who will be caregivers in the future, you know, and no one is really prepared for that role.

Nicole Vienneau  33:08

No, we’re not prepared for that role. Yes. So as you have been journeying into entrepreneurship… and I just want to point out for our listeners, many of our graduates feel that they have to do certain things, they have to do, you know, graduate and have to go into starting a business and have to, you know.

And I think this is a… you know, your example of your life, your story is a true example of: no, you don’t have to do anything. And you chose to use the skills where you’re planted, to continue on with the role that you were in. Life circumstances threw you upside down.

And yet you still use the tools that you learned through the course and understanding about the unique needs of self-care, and how that fit into your life. And now as you’ve come out of this, you have all of these gifts that you received along that journey to be able to share as you go forward.

So now, years later, you’re deciding, hey, now it’s time for me to be an entrepreneur. So I’m curious to know some of the things that you’ve learned through this journey of starting to say, yes, I am, this is the path I would like to travel. And what are some things that you’ve learned along this journey?

Renee Panec  34:35

Well, I feel like there’s really been a lot of things I’ve learned. You know, starting this journey, I’d mentioned that, you know, I took a few half steps here and there towards entrepreneurship and then would always step back because it always felt like there was so much to learn. I didn’t have time to do all that and anything else.

So the business side of being a Nurse Coach and setting up a business was, you know, a whole separate side of what you had to learn. And how your own state or Nursing practice act, how you have to know what’s in that so you know where you can practice safely, you know what’s in your scope as you want to stay within that. I’ve also learned that, and I think one of the things I’m learning right now, is about connections.

So I’m reaching out a lot on social media to make connections with people and to invite them in. And I’m also trying to do that in real life, in person, and learning how to make connections, and how to be there for people in an open, honest way, just as somebody who’s curious and interested about their lives, not necessarily from a perspective of, oh, I need a client, or oh, I need that.

Because that didn’t feel… that doesn’t feel good to me, that doesn’t feel like who I am. So I’m finding that balance between what, you know, so many of the social media gurus say about how to be present online, and you know, what you have to do and how you have to do it.

And discovering, you know, what in all of that noise works for me and who I am, and what do I think adds value, and what might bring people to me for what I have to offer. Because I don’t… I can’t fix everybody’s problems, for sure. And, you know, there’s so much about connecting and about learning who you are, and what you have to share.

When I first started social media, and I think I shared this with you at one point, too, is that, you know, I felt like I had been in my own little cave for so long. And that as soon as you started peeking your head out on social media, everybody is out there, and they want to come chasing after you with all their offers, right? With all this stuff. And everybody’s coming at you.

And I just felt like I was being chased by zombies. It felt so terrible to me, it felt like it made me want to go hide again, because it was just so intense for somebody who’s, you know, pretty much an introvert. To be out there and trying to do this, it felt very frightening to have all these zombies chasing me.

And then as I started coming out and trying to make these offers and being visible in their lives, I also worried that now I was the zombie and I was chasing all these people. And that also does not feel good. So I’ve learned to kind of shift some of that, you know, that mental image to like more like I’m out there throwing birdseed out for the birds.

And I’m trying to, you know, share what I have, and to bring them closer so I can share more. But not to be chasing, in that role of chasing people. And it’s really been a distinction and a mental shift for me. Yeah.

Nicole Vienneau  38:10

I like the imagery of just putting out some bird seed and eventually some birds are gonna come and they’re gonna get more comfortable with me and maybe they’ll come a little closer.

Renee Panec  38:20

But you know, even when you’re putting out birdseed, the same bird feed doesn’t attract all the birds, right? It’s just like you choosing the bird seeds so that you attract what you want to see in your yard, instead of just all the bird seed for everybody.

Nicole Vienneau  38:38

Right. I love that.

Renee Panec  38:40

Because I don’t want it to attract woodpeckers. That is not a good thing. They make holes in your house.

Nicole Vienneau  38:49

Selective birds.

Renee Panec  38:52

Yeah. So it’s okay to be a little selective.

Nicole Vienneau  38:55

Well, you make a great point, too, about social media, and just the… some people have an ease with social media, and they just fall into patterns that feel comfortable for them. And some people don’t want to be on social media all that much. And you know, we don’t have to be.

I think that’s something to put out there. We don’t have to be on social media. There are plenty of people within our reach in our communities that we can reach out to. We don’t have to do all that. And at the same time, it’s like learning new skills, too.

Renee Panec  39:30

Right, and with learning new skills, I think one of the important things to think about, too, is the stories that you tell yourself about who you are. Because like I’ve said, I’m a quiet introvert, but that’s also part of the story that I’ve always told myself too. And it’s like, I also have the power to be somebody else or to come out of that or to be an introvert and still share myself with the people I want to share my stories with.

My sister sent me some really cute pictures, for my birthday, of us growing up as kids, right? You know, when I think back on myself, who I was as a child, I picture this very quiet little girl, you know, kind of sitting in the corner and not interacting and not really being present and out there.

And she sent me… every picture she sent me, I have this big smile, and I’m like, center stage, and I’m like, hugging her. And we’re right there, out there together and, you know, I’m hanging over the shoulder of the Frankenstein at the wherever we were, but you know, and she’s right there next to me. But every picture, I don’t look like this little girl that I’ve had pictured in my mind.

So sometimes the stories we tell ourselves is not the whole story. There’s more to us than whatever story is at the top. And part of, I think, of my growth, and what I’ve learned through challenging myself and through, you know, connecting with myself and being aware is that this little girl is still there, that is, you know, not afraid to like, throw her arms around the Frankenstein and laugh with my sister.

I’m not just the shy little girl, I was also funny and vivacious and confident. And part of my self talk now is to remind myself that that’s who I am too, is that I am funny and I am confident. And I can step out of this role, and I can step into the center stage, and I can share who I am with other people who may need to hear that too.

Nicole Vienneau  41:55


Renee Panec  41:57

Personal growth.

Nicole Vienneau  41:58

Personal growth. Exactly. Yeah, and a beautiful reminder of your youth, and how our stories can change over time. And they can change again over time.

Renee Panec  42:12

Our interpretation of our stories changes over time. It’s that, you know, we only remember a part of it, we don’t maybe remember all of it. And take some time to look at yourself from someone else’s point of view too, because they may not see you the way you’ve always seen yourself. And our brains do, you know, we do become what we tell ourselves we are.

So you know, take some time to nurture your self talk and make sure that you’re telling yourself, not only who you thought you were, but to allow yourself the room to grow into who you think you’re going to be, who you want to be. And allow yourself to recognize those traits when they come up.

Nicole Vienneau  43:01

Thank you for sharing that. Yes. Love it. So in our last few moments together, we’ve learned so much about you, and now I’m going ask you what is on your heart that you would like to share with our listeners?

Renee Panec  43:19

I think what I would really love is for every Nurse to really embrace their power for changing… changing the world. To me, that’s really what it comes down to with being in this world now, is that we’re looking around us, we’re looking at, as Nurse Coaches, who we can heal.

We’re starting with ourselves, we’re pouring that love and that care into our own being, and then what you do is you look around and you see who else needs your love and your nurturing and your care. And you start sharing that in whatever way works for you, whether it’s in a small way, helping your neighbor, helping your family be present in, you know, their lives in a real way.

And you sow those seeds for change within them, and you give them back that love. And the world needs your unique energy, your unique spirit. You are more than what you know you are right now, so just keep growing, keep healing yourself. And let that love and that energy and your spirit flow into the people that you come around with. And we will change the world, Nicole.

Nicole Vienneau  44:47

Yes! Thank you. I just soaked all of that, all of your words of wisdom, soaked them right into my heart. Thank you.

Renee Panec  45:00

Thank you for having me here.

Nicole Vienneau  45:02

Yes. We’ve really enjoyed having you on the podcast. And I know our listeners are just also soaking up so much knowledge and wisdom and passion and love. So, thank you. Thank you for that. So, I like to shift gears towards the end of our podcast for just a few quick answered questions. You can’t think too much about these, Renee. Okay, get ready.

Renee Panec  45:27

Okay, I’m ready.

Nicole Vienneau  45:27

Okay, you’re ready. Pigeons or crows?

Renee Panec  45:31


Nicole Vienneau  45:33

Tell us why.

Renee Panec  45:34

I love crows. I know that most people don’t. But when I was little, we lived in Victorville, California, which is out in the high desert area. And crows were the birds that lived there. And when my sister and I would play, we would be crows, and we would fly across going “caw, caw, caw.”

Because they were the only birds we saw there. And they’re very smart birds. They have funerals for their friends. They recognize people, and if you leave gifts out for the crows, they’ll know who you are, and they’ll keep an eye out for you. So yeah, crows for sure.

Nicole Vienneau  46:11

I love that. I had a flashback to my childhood too, because we would be crows too. We’d make the sound, “caw, caw.”

Renee Panec  46:20

How funny, I never knew anybody else did that!

Nicole Vienneau  46:22

I love it. It’s so good. That’s a good flashback for me. So the name of our podcast is Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! And ACTION is an acronym, it stands for authentic, curious, truthful, inspiring, open and nurturing. Authentic, curious, truthful, inspiring, open, nurturing. Which word stands out to you?

Renee Panec  47:03

Wow, I love them all. But, you know, I think I’m all about nurturing. I think that’s the one that definitely comes out to my mind, is that I have needed it. And I want to give that back to other people who need that care and that nurturing.

Nicole Vienneau  47:18

Yes, yes, yes. We can all feel your nurturing heart as we listen. Definitely. So, I know you have a Facebook group, so tell us a little bit about that.

Renee Panec  47:31

So I have a Facebook group that I’m growing. It’s called Caring 4 Caregivers. And my goal with that group is to connect with other family caregivers and other Nurses, and to give the community support, encouragement, and to be a place for people to come.

Nicole Vienneau  47:50

Yes. And you share a lot of excellent tidbits on self-care and things to think about and inspire others who are on this journey of being a caregiver.

Renee Panec  48:02

Yeah, I’m definitely big on caregiving.

Nicole Vienneau  48:04

Caregiving for the caregivers, right?

Renee Panec  48:07

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, figuring out how to do that, and what that means to each individual, because it’s always different.

Nicole Vienneau  48:14

Right. And I know that you recently also obtained your business, like official business. Tell us about that.

Renee Panec  48:23

I’m so excited. Yeah. So my official business is called Whole Health Nursing Incorporated. So you can find me. We’ll be building a website soon. Something simple. So you’ll be able to find me there. But you can also email me at that website at renee@wholehealthNursing.com.

Nicole Vienneau  48:45

Yes. And it’s part of the journey— website building and social media. Getting out there and connecting to people. And just, like you say, you’re just doing steps by steps by steps.

Renee Panec  49:00

Right. And that’s where I try and focus, at the next step is what I want to do to get to the next step.

Nicole Vienneau  49:06

Yes. Well, thank you so much, Renee, for sharing your time and energy and wisdom with us. We’re so appreciative.

Renee Panec  49:13

Well, thank you again, so much, Nicole.

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