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  • Ep11: Environment Impacts because of Nurse Coaching – Susan Luck, BS, RN, MA, HN-BC, CCN, HWNC-BC
integrative nurse coaches in action

Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION

Ep11: Environment Impacts because of Nurse Coaching – Susan Luck, BS, RN, MA, HN-BC, CCN, HWNC-BC

Podcast Highlights

Susan and Environment ColleaguesEp.11: Environment Impacts because of Nurse Coaching – Susan Luck, BS, RN, MA, HN-BC, CCN, HWNC-BC Highlights

“When we talk about the environment, we’re not only talking about our external environment and the chemicals externally or the air pollution, but we’re looking at our internal environment and the interconnectedness. A lot of times, our internal environment is also growing organisms that may be deleterious and may also impact our immune function, our brain function, our cardiovascular function, and certainly, based on one’s predisposition in genetics, everything in between.” Susan Luck, BS, RN, MA, HN-BC, CCN, HWNC-BC

  • Bringing awareness to the importance of environmental assessments, environmental conversations and awareness, and how the environment impacts health and wellbeing has been a lifelong passion of Susan Luck.
  • A few great environmental focused Nurse Coaching questions:  how does your environment support your health and wellbeing? Are there areas in your home or in your workplace or in your community that might be impacting the community health and wellbeing or your family’s health and wellbeing?
  • A Nurse Coaches voice is integral in shifting beyond the present medical model and into a more holistic integrative way of thinking about what is health, and what is wellbeing.
  • How life experiences, curiosity, education, and nursing knowledge all contribute to the wisdom of a Nurse Coach.  Nurse Coaches are continuously curious.
  • When Nurses were not invited to the table at Harvard when coaching was being discussed, the Co-Founders of the International Nurse Coach Association brought themselves to the table demanding to have a part in the coaching discussion.  They were not welcomed with open arms and had to prove Nurses belonged there, and even write a white paper about Nurses and health coaching.
  • If you are passionate about something, learn about it, speak about it, be curious and ask questions about it.  Then, bring it forward every chance you can.

 

Email Susan at sluck@inursecoach.com

Nurse Coaching:  Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing Textbook 

The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide to Coaching Scope and Competencies, 2nd Edition 

Environmental Working Group

Earthrose Institute

Environment Beginnings Luck_April 2021

Click to read Susan's article in AHNA Beginning's magazine April 2021.

Susan Luck

BS, RN, MA, HN-BC, CCN, HWNC-BC

Co-Founder International Nurse Coach Association & Founder and Director of EarthRose Institute for Environmental Health

EarthRose Institute for Environmental Health
Susan Luck, BS, RN, MA, HN-BC, CCN, HWNC-BC

As the Co-Director, Co-Founder, and core faculty of the International Nurse Coach Association
for over a decade, Susan has been teaching and developing coaching programs, online and on
site, nationally and internationally, and currently through the Integrative Nurse Coach
Academy.

She is Board Certified in Health and Wellness Coaching, Holistic Nursing, and Clinical Nutrition.
Susan has authored several chapters on Nutrition and Environmental Health for Holistic
Nursing, Integrative Nursing, and Nurse Leadership textbooks. She has co-authored Nurse
Coaching and Self-Assessment chapters in; Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice, 8th
edition (2022) and is co-author of the award winning book (ANA Gold Seal, 2015) Nurse
Coaching: Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing (2015) and The Art and Science of
Nurse Coaching, an ANA Publication (2013), that led the way to establishing the standards for
practice in the emerging Nurse Coach role.

For the past 20 years, she has been the Nurse Coach and Nutrition consultant for Special
Immunology Services at Mercy Hospital in Miami and is currently the Director of Nurse
Coaching at Rezilir Health in Hollywood, Florida.

Susan continues to integrate lifestyle health and wellness education into diverse communities,
bringing her expertise and passion as a nurse, clinical nutritionist, and medical anthropologist.
She has developed and implemented integrative health initiatives for diverse community
organizations including the Yellow Courtyard, Integrative Health Symposium, Urban Zen, New
York Open Center, The Lower East Side Girls Club, Kripalu, Omega Institute, and the University
of Miami and Florida Atlantic University.

As a concerned global citizen, Susan is the founder and education director of the Earthrose
Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to environmental health education and
advocacy.
She maintains a private practice as an Integrative Nurse Coach with a focus on nutrition and the
environment.

sluck@inursecoach.com

Podcast Transcript

Ep.11: Environment Impacts because of Nurse Coaching – Susan Luck, BS, RN, MA, HN-BC, CCN, HWNC-BC Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

Welcome, everyone, to the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! podcast. My name is Nicole Vienneau. I am your host. And today I’m so excited because we have Susan Luck on our show today. Susan Luck is the co-founder of the International Nurse Coach Association.

She is also the co-author of The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide to Coaching Scope and Competencies, 2nd Edition . And she’s the co-author of Nurse Coaching:  Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing Textbook . Susan has been the heart of Nurse Coaching for many, many years and I cannot even tell you how excited I am to have her on the show. So welcome, Susan.

Susan Luck  00:47

Thank you, Nicole. Thank you for inviting me and I am thrilled to be here. I love Nurse Coaching, I love Nursing, and all of the many dynamics that have been brought into my personal life and clinical practice as a result of my expanding the Nurse Coach perspective.

Nicole Vienneau  01:10

Well, we can’t wait to hear more about all of that. And we also thought it was just a super bonus to have you on our show around Earth Day. Because we know that all of your focus on cultural, environmental, nutritional health, all of your history in Nursing and your life wisdom brings you to be an expert on caring for the earth as a whole as we are humans here. And so, I will look forward to your perspectives on that just a little bit in the future here on this podcast.

But first, we have to dive back in history. We just want to have a little quick snippet of some of your reasons or some of your story of how you got into Nursing in general.

Susan Luck  01:56

It goes back quite a while. I have always been interested in people. That led me to want to enter into a field that would allow me that kind of interpersonal connection with others. And Nursing just seemed like the perfect fit for me. From early on, I guess I always had that nurturing, caregiving part of me– taking care of family, relatives, wounded animals. So, it was just a natural.

As I moved forward in becoming a Nurse, I also realized that there was more than the bedside Nursing, where I began, like many of us began. And I started to work in community health in New York, and I had a lot of multicultural perspectives in health and healing from the populations. I was working with the Hispanic community, the Native American community, the Asian community, all in our melting pot of New York. And it opened my eyes.

And then I had the opportunity– I was working also in public health and community health– that I had the opportunity to work in a field hospital in the highlands of Guatemala. And I got to see a cultural dimension of health and healing customs and traditions that were totally different than my medical orientation.

And that led to more curiosity that eventually led me to go back to school and study anthropology and medical anthropology and open up my worldview and asking the question, what is health? And what is healing? And how we personalize it and internalize it and have beliefs, but they may not be the beliefs of others. And how does that belief system impact people’s ability to get well, to navigate a healthcare system that’s foreign to them. And I actually did my graduate work and thesis around that area.

At the same time, I was struggling with my own health issues, which predate Nursing, and nutrition seemed to be a direct connection to some of my health issues. And so, growing up on the American standard American diet that we all know is called the SAD diet, I decided to explore further and eventually became certified as a clinical nutritionist.

So, I have woven all of that into my Nursing lens. And then it seemed natural, as I moved into this whole field of Nurse Coaching, to weave and integrate that into the Nurse Coach perspective and process.

Nicole Vienneau  04:58

A lifelong journey.

Susan Luck  05:01

It’s been a long journey. But it’s an evolving journey. I’m still on the journey. It’s an open door where I think many of us, as learners, as seekers, the more we think we know, the less we know and the more curious we are. And I think coaching, for me, has taught me to stay curious. Listen to other people’s stories to understand their own meaning and purpose in their life, in their work, in their meaning of illness, in their healing potential.

Part of this has also been the environmental threat, which I think is some of what I would love to talk about today. It’s April, it’s Earth month. This is now, I think, 20 or 21 years, for those of us who can remember when Earth Day first began. And now it’s become much more ritualized in our culture and I think there’s a growing, expanding awareness of the impact of the environment on our health and wellbeing.

And so, one of the areas that I am really passionate about has been how to get this information out to the public and to our Nurse colleagues. And as I often say, because there are 20 million Nurses globally, working in all communities, we all see environmental threads, the environmental impact of a lot of the health issues that we see today. And so, how do we bring that awareness to our colleagues and to our communities? And that’s something that I’ve dedicated my own time on.

And I also have a not-for-profit organization, called the Earthrose Institute, that I specifically established probably almost 20 years ago, early in its time around environmental issues in women and children’s health.

And if I could digress for a second, the reason I really got into that is because when I was working in the highlands of Guatemala, as a young Nurse back in the mid-seventies, I saw a lot of health issues and children with birth defects. And I started to be curious, and I found out that a lot of the families were migrant workers who would go down to the coast from the highlands in the summer and work on the sugar plantations. They would be exposed, as I did my own investigation, to large amounts of pesticides.

And it was an “aha” moment for me to try to be, what I will call an environmental detective, and try to pinpoint why so many people had certain health issues, and especially the children. And it ranged from asthma to learning deficits to immunological problems. And only in the years later, fast forward, did we learn about the impact of pesticides on human health and disease. So that really led me on one track into the environment.

The other part of that was I have a family history of cancer and I wondered what were the triggers. While studying integrative functional medicine, I was always interested in what were the underlying causes of disease and how they manifested. Of course, we know it’s the genetics and it’s the epigenetics– the exposures that trigger a change in our genetic expression.

That also led me on a personal journey to look at how my own environment and my own nutrition may be playing a factor. And I’ve really led that lifestyle for close to 35 years or more of really trying to eat clean, eat organic, avoid pesticide, use healthier self-care products, and teach in my community about the impact of our environment on our health and wellbeing.

Nicole Vienneau  09:16

And part of your sharing this passion of environmental impacts on health and wellbeing is incorporating all of this information and knowledge into the Nurse Coaching skills that we learn through the International Nurse Coach Association Integrative Nurse Coach Academy program. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on choosing the direction of incorporating environments into the Nurse Coaching program.

Susan Luck  09:44

You mentioned earlier that I had written the chapters on environmental health for the Nurse Coaching textbook, also weaving it into the integrative health and lifestyle wellbeing component and also integrating into our, what we call, the IHWA tool or the Integrative Health and Wellness Assessment tool.

I have been very intentional of thinking about the environment as part of a holistic perspective. And I have to say that having been involved in holistic Nursing since the 80s, being involved in a body, mind, spirit connection, I always felt that the environmental piece, as well as the nutritional piece, was never really focused upon.

Maybe because it’s big, maybe because it involves, really, a whole other knowledge base and skill set. But I, with my colleagues, felt it really important to weave it into a coaching process.  And the reason is, if we’re talking about, in Nurse Coaching, healthier lifestyle, we’re speaking about behavioral change, about making better choices. The environmental piece is as important as learning to deal with stress, while learning to learn strategies for better sleep, or establishing healthier eating patterns.

How do we begin to change patterns and behaviors around our personal hair products or makeup or foods that might have environmental deleterious potential side effects? Cumulatively– because we know that even small amounts, over time, become cumulative.

And sometimes having many chemicals can have synergistic effects, meaning just like mixing medications. We could have some chemicals mixed with other chemicals internally and the way our body processes it, detoxifies, based on our microbiome, based on our liver health, based on our genetics, we sometimes have accumulations of these chemicals in our bodies that we call a toxic body burden.

How do we listen to our toxic body burden? And this is just part of health and wellbeing. So, I think that this has been a contribution to our unique Integrative Nurse Coach program, because I don’t know other programs that really focus on this in the same way.

Nicole Vienneau  12:26

I agree 100%. And being senior faculty with the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, when we do come to the topics of doing the Integrative Health and Wellness Assessment, environment really comes up a lot as an aspect that our Nurses had never really considered before. And so, once they’re exposed to this information, they’re like, “Whoa, I hadn’t thought of this as part of my health and wellbeing.”

And so, just with your work of incorporating this into our Nurse Coaching curriculum and assessment process, it opens up the Nurses’ eyes, who are with the patients all the time. First, it affects them, the Nurses, in such a positive way as far as choosing then to focus more on the environmental implications and how that affects their health and wellbeing, which then transcends into our patients, to our communities, to the groups that we work with, to the clients we work with.

And it’s just a beautiful thing to experience, as faculty, in the learning process of our Nurse Coaches.

Susan Luck  13:34

In that, you know, just like we say we’re not experts as Nurse Coaches, we’re listening and we’re curious, and we’re working with others to have them assess and use their own inner wisdom to know what might be impacting their health. So, the coaching questions are really important. You know, when we ask the question, how does your environment support your health and wellbeing? Are there areas in your home or in your workplace or in your community that might be impacting the community health and wellbeing or your family’s health and wellbeing?

I think that as we begin to look at now, in these times, things like whether it be cancer clusters in areas where there were Superfund sites, which were toxic waste sites going back 30 years that have never fully been cleaned up and some have leached into the water. We’re looking at lead pipes in Flint, Michigan, and in many, many parts of the country.

We begin to think about what it is that is impacting our community, or the individuals that we’re working with, and asking curious questions and then having our clients and patients begin to think about how their environment might be affecting them.

You know, are they using pesticides in the home? Are they using pesticides, or flea collars, on their dog or cat that now snuggles on their pillow with them at night and we’re breathing that in. How are many, many areas of our lives affected by chemicals, for example. Or by a healthier environment by being outdoors and breathing clean air.

When you look, recently, at some of the statistics, whether it be the World Health Organization or some other studies (2020) we are now looking at 90% of chronic illness having an environmental cofactor. That’s huge. And we’re looking mainly at the air we breathe, especially in urban environments.

We’re looking at the water we’re drinking, which can be contaminated in the groundwater. We are looking at so many aspects in our lives because of the world we live in today. And so, when we’re working with people, and with our own families and self, how do we begin to rethink, reprioritize, and make the changes necessary?

Nicole Vienneau  16:20

I know that we are talking about environment, but I still have this question in the back of my mind that I must ask for our listeners. And that is how in the world did you discover or think of or dream of Nurse Coaching? And how did that happen?

Susan Luck  16:37

Oh, there’s a couple of stories that go with that. But the one that I share most is that in the 80s, I worked in New York in community health and public health. I worked with people with HIV and AIDS and it was a time when there was limited medication and, unfortunately, a lot of poor outcomes.

And I remember one particular group– I was running groups around nutrition and staying healthy with HIV– I noticed that a lot of the people in the group were talking about selling their life insurance policies and thinking about death as being the ultimate result of what was going on. And, for many, it was.

But I asked the question: What if you could live? What would your life look like? They had never thought about that. And what is it that moves you and that you’re passionate about? To give you some hope and a future dream, if you will. And we know it was a little bit of appreciative inquiry, was a little bit of motivational interviewing.

I didn’t know any of these terms. But having worked in– one of my many specialties for many years was I worked in drug addiction and in psych inpatient, and I used to run groups because I always loved that interpersonal human connection.

I remember George, who is still alive, said, “I want to help others with HIV. And I think I’d like to become a massage therapist.” And over the years, we stayed in touch and he went back to massage school and became a massage therapist for people with HIV because so many people, at that time, didn’t even want to have close contact and touch others.

And that was the kind of curiosity of human nature that was intuitive for me the same way that working as a psych Nurse was intuitive for me. It’s not for everyone, but it was just, early in the coaching world, I just thought this is really an important perspective to bring to my colleagues, to other Nurses, to then impart with the people that they’re working with.

So, the coaching was something that evolved through my own study and through my own sense of what does it really take to have people move toward another way of thinking about health and wellness in parallel to this. And some of you may have heard the story from Barbie and myself that when the coaching world was beginning, there was a summit at Harvard.

There were a lot of people that came to the table– psychologists and doctors and sports physiologists– but there weren’t any Nurses. And in a sense, we pushed the boundaries and we said we need Nurses represented. We’re a natural. We work with people in every aspect of community, of health, and why aren’t we part of this conversation?

We actually had to write a white paper, with a couple of other Nurses, to prove that we were a value. And this is, you know, the voice Nursing forever having to have a bigger voice. And I will get to that because I think the voice of Nursing and the voice of Nurse Coaching and the environmental health advocacy voice is all interconnected.

So, we got to Harvard and they said, “What are you doing here?” And we said, “We’re part of this new coaching community and we want to have a part in it.” We weren’t fully accepted into it. And I won’t go into a lot of detail but to say it was inspirational and motivational. We said, “We can create our own Nurse Coaching program.”

We already have the skills of listening, of being aware of people’s health issues, and we already are coming in, sort of, ahead of the game because a lot of the coaches had very little– not only a little coaching experience– but little experience with some of the skill sets that we use in our daily practice and we wanted to develop them more fully.

We, defiantly, empowered, went ahead and created the Integrative Nurse Coach Association and the first coaching program. And some of it was learn as you go. And for those in the very early cohorts, you can remember that we said we’re all in this together, we’re all pioneers crafting this as we go along. This was before the textbook. This was before national recognition as we have today. This was prior to a Nurse Coach certification. All of that eventually led to the certification, the book, the growing movement, as we will call it.

And so, it was really, you know, sometimes you’re called upon and you’re not sure where the higher powers lead you and why, but there was some voice and some energy field that led us to move forward. And here we are– cohort 35, 11 years later, online internationally. And it’s just a beautiful, beautiful journey that I am so proud to have witnessed and participated in.

Nicole Vienneau  22:24

Thank you for all of your dedication, for all of your passion, your knowledge, your continued wisdom in moving this incredible Nurse Coaching movement forward as we newer Nurses come into Nurse Coaching, allowing us to jump on the bandwagon as you and Barbie Dossey are just pulling us along as you go through this journey.

You speak of voice—Nurses’ voice. I would love to know your thoughts on the voice of Nurses.

Susan Luck  22:54

That’s a really important piece. And I just may have said this at the beginning: there are 20 million Nurses and midwives globally, 4 million+ in this country alone. And to think of the power, the collective power, energetically, physically, in communities, in Nursing organizations, of how we are a voice and a responsible professional entity to really impact people’s health and wellbeing.

And I think that’s why so many of us have gone– and so many listening– have gone into Nurse Coaching. Because we want to move beyond the medical paradigm and look toward a more holistic, integrative way of thinking about what is health and what is wellbeing.

And for each person, it’s different. And part of our entry into the coaching process is using our Integrative Health and Wellness assessment tool to find out where people feel they want to begin on addressing areas in their lives that are impacting or interfering with their best health practices. I think the question really becomes: how could we become partners and advocates in our communities for better health?

So, the Nurse who works in pediatrics, outpatient or inpatient, and sees children with a lot of asthma– suddenly there’s a lot of asthma. Do we explore more deeply? What else is going on? You know, do they spray pesticides in the classroom? And do children have more respiratory problems the next day? Do we need to ask the PTA and the parents, as partners in community, as school Nurses, what else might be going on that’s triggering this?

Is it something in the unhealthy food that children are eating? You know, the food colorings, the preservatives, the flavorings, the artificial ingredients that are cumulative and can be triggering it in a lot of people, a lot of children. Or is it something more ominous like contaminated drinking water?

I live in Miami, we have a lot of sugar growing, and even in some of the higher-end communities out near sugar, we find cancer clusters, and in children particularly, and it literally took Erin Brockovich to come here to find out that the pesticides and fertilizers and the phosphates were in the drinking water. And the children have more rapidly growing cells, so they take up the chemicals more readily. There were higher amounts of cancer and cancer clusters. For adults, they had a different onset of symptoms.

But that was an example. And what did the local health authorities do? And what did the local industry do? I mean, it’s a fascinating story and this could be replicated all over the country. Some have spoken up and cleaned up the water supply, some have been forced by the government.

And I believe that Nurses, who are so trusted, can be one of the most important voices– going back, Nicole, when you were asking about the voice of Nursing– to speak to their local legislators, to speak to their CNOs or health and human resources at their hospital, if they see that the Nurses on the night shift are having more health issues because they’re cleaning with toxic chemicals at night, washing the floors using Clorox, using whatever disinfectant and breathing—anyone, patients and staff– are breathing this in all night.

How do we increase our own awareness? And awareness is the core piece of Nurses and Nurse Coaching. How do we increase our own awareness of what some of the triggers might be? In our textbook, there are some case studies, in the Nurse Coach textbook, for those that have it or are interested about the Nurse who works the night shift who can’t get pregnant, who has fertility issues, and starts to explore what is she being exposed to on the unit. And when she leaves the unit and starts to change her lifestyle and her food and her energy, how does that then change her health and her risk factors?

I think that it is not that we have all the answers– and as Nurse Coaches, the beauty is we don’t have to have the answers– but as I mentioned, being curious and being informed and being able to sometimes educate, sometimes advocate, coach, and allow people to explore for themselves. Just like we ask about nutrition, how does what you eat affect how you feel? How does your personal environment, the products that you choose, how does that impact your health?

And we can do an elimination, just like we do an elimination food plan. If we think it’s gluten or we think it’s sugar, how do we do an elimination environmental plan? Maybe it’s the 200+ chemicals that we use on our bodies every day, in our makeup, in our skin line, in our hair products. And how do we begin to buy those products and read ingredients and labels and begin to maybe eliminate some of the lauryl sulfate and the Bisphenol A and all of those chemicals.

And I will just give a little plug for the Environmental Working Group– ewg.org. And you could go to healthier cleaning products, healthier cosmetics– safecosmetics.org, etcetera, and find out and become an informed person and an informed Nurse so you can share this with others, your family, your community, on what might be impacting your health.

Because again, the body burden is cumulative over time and although a small amount might not look like it’s harmful, it’s the question of how does it get stored in the body? How does it get utilized? Detoxified or not? So, I think this is still part of our own education, to be informed, to better inform others.

Nicole Vienneau  30:07

This leads me to think of the work that you are presently doing. As the director of Nurse Coaching at Rezilir, which focuses on brain health and other aspects of brain disease, I would love to hear a little bit about how all of that is connected to your work and to the environment and to our brains.

Susan Luck  30:31

I do work as a Nurse Coach with a large organization. Some of you may be familiar with a book called The End of Alzheimer’s by Dale Bredesen. We use some of his model, but we’ve gone beyond, and the area we’ve gone beyond is that we’re much more focused on the environmental aspects of brain health.

I have created a program there where I may be doing coaching with the patients and their families in order to have them think about all aspects of their health. How does stress impact brain health? How does sleep or lack-there-of affect brain health? How does the nutrition and foods that one eats affect brain health? And the research is rich on all of it, but the piece that I really have focused on is how do environmental factors impact brain health.

For example, heavy metals. We know that the brain has an affinity for things like aluminum and lead and mercury, all which impact cognitive function and can exacerbate whatever that person’s predisposition is or exposures over time. So, we do both some, what we call, specialty lab testing to look at heavy metals and we look at ways to detoxify the heavy metals. But my part is of looking at the environmental piece of how do people begin to change what they have been doing traditionally.

Reminds me of a patient that I saw, who had cognitive decline, and I did what we call in functional medicine, a map of looking at the precursors, the triggers, that may have contributed. And I found out that he had started using, about a year prior to his onset, a cologne that he loved, and he put it on his big, furry mustache every morning because he loved to smell it. One of the things that I asked him was, “What would it be like to try not using it?” Kind of the elimination approach. And he said, “I love it. It’s one of my favorite ways of smelling life.”

And eventually we processed it and he agreed, for a short time, to not use it. And believe it or not, some of his cognitive issues disappeared. And we think it was because it was a combination of the chemicals, maybe of the alcohol, and of the fragrances that were in it. All were impacting, you know, right up through his nose, that go right to the brain– the connection. And who knows, we were doing a lot of other things, but it was an important piece of the puzzle to also address that environmental component.

I have many patients who have high mercury levels. Some of it is dental, because they have mercury amalgams, and we know that people go to biological dentists to do special work to remove those amalgams.

Some of it is because… I had a patient that ate tuna fish, five or six days a week, on a sandwich for lunch. We know that tuna is extremely high in mercury because mercury tends to hold on in the fatty tissue, as well as in the brain, which is basically very high in fat. That’s kind of how brain cells communicate and how cells insulate for communication across the neurons.

We work nutritionally, and we have a nutritionist in the office, and I do the coaching to support the nutritionist and the patient to encourage and identify where they’re having issues with making the changes because then they need the coaching component. It’s one thing to make the changes but if you love the tuna fish, how do you begin to move away from that? So again, it’s education and it’s coaching in order to address that.

So, the environmental piece has many, many components. One of the ones we’re really looking at today is mold. Mold is an environmental issue globally. If we look at mold in people’s homes that were flooded, or because they had an old pipe that burst in the basement and they didn’t know, and then they went downstairs and they look behind the furniture and they see the black creeping up the wall, that’s all to alert us that we are breathing in those mold spores. And mold has an affinity to affect immunological function, but also affect the brain.

So, when we talk about the environment, we’re not only talking about our external environment and the chemicals externally or the air pollution, but we’re looking at our internal environment and the interconnectedness. A lot of times, our internal environment is also growing organisms that may be deleterious and may also impact our immune function, our brain function, our cardiovascular function, and certainly, based on one’s predisposition in genetics, everything in between.

I have been thrilled to be able to bring in the environmental piece into brain health.

Another piece of this is we are all becoming more and more aware of the impact of the environment on our health and wellbeing. I share with everyone that it would be really interesting, after listening to this, to look at our environmental health and wellness assessment tool and fill out the short questionnaire or the long questionnaire.

I believe you could find it online if you Google it– you can ask permission from INCA if you’re not an INCA graduate– and do it again and begin to look at all of the different parts of how your environment might be involved in some of your issues. Whether it be, again, fatigue, skin allergies, auto immune, cancer, brain fog, it’s a component of all of the above.

Nicole Vienneau  37:16

I can’t help but think back to some conversations that you and I have had about Nurse Coaches being detectives. So, I imagine us all as Inspector Clouseau because of our curiosity, but then linking it to the actual things that are going on in someone’s environment, whether that be the physical, the internal or wherever. But we’re all, in essence, being detectives for ourselves, for our families, and for our clients, patients, and communities.

Susan Luck  37:46

It brings me to think about when I was doing my nutrition counseling and always using coaching. I had a young woman in her 20s, had recently had a baby, and I’m going back now 15 years, and she had breast cancer and she came to me for lifestyle coaching and nutrition. And I did my own environmental detective assessment. And it wound up, when she was in high school, she worked in her parents’ dry-cleaning business. Dry-cleaning… what do we know about dry cleaning? Well, it’s even in our environmental questionnaire.

Dry-cleaning has two main areas of concern. One is the chemicals that they use on your clothing to clean, which you then put on your body. And the second is the soft plastic that your clothes are wrapped in, that you then put in your closet. And those polymers, those soft plastic components, whether it be by spinneret or other components, also leach into the clothes, and then we put the clothes on.

What if we then are living in Miami and we’re sweating and our pores are open? How much can that then absorb into the skin, which we know is the largest organ of both elimination and absorption.

The real point of this story is not just the chemicals, but she discussed it and she said to me, “I have been to four oncologists, three other doctors, no one ever asked me a question about how my environment, what in my environment I may have been exposed to.”

 

And I think there is a key component for us, as integrative holistic Nurse Coaches, to think about what we can offer our patients and clients that may be overlooked in the business of a medical model. Because it’s so instrumental. The person going through cancer treatment, who does nothing to clean up their environment, is probably more likely, statistically, to have a recurrence because they haven’t done the full spectrum of possibilities for change.

So, going back to the Nurse Coaching, what is it that one can become more aware of? Think about what patterns and behaviors might be contributing and what is it that they may want to change, or modify, to enhance or even ensure their continued health promotion and break that cycle? Because we have to do something to change the patterns if we’re going to have a new and better outcome.

Nicole Vienneau  40:50

I’d also like to ask about your upcoming article in Beginnings Magazine, The American Holistic Nurses Association magazine, and the title of it is: Environmental Influences on Health, A Holistic Nursing Assessment.

Susan Luck  41:07

In holistic Nursing, we speak about body, mind, spirit. Yes, the environment affects our body, the environment can affect our mind and certainly, on a spiritual level, a toxic environment can impact our spirituality, if you will. Our ability to meditate, our ability to focus, our ability to appreciate nature.

So, I brought this into, again, the current issue that’s coming out in the next couple of weeks, during the Earth month celebration, to talk about, as holistic Nurses– same as Integrative Nurse Coaches– how do we advocate and become more self-aware of how our environment is affecting how we are? And what could we do to have a bigger voice in our community?

So, I’m very much an advocate for Nurses getting involved. I will share with you– and Barbie, my co-conspirator, has been to my community when I’ve gotten… I started an environmental impact committee in my small island community of 5000 people. We were doing a lot of demolition and reconstruction because the island was built in the 50s and 60s when they used asbestos and when they used lead pipes and lead paint.

And they were tearing down buildings and there was no netting and there was dust debris. And the little old ladies were walking in the morning and the people were walking their dogs and jogging. And I presented to the community and to the council people that this is a health risk factor, this is a health hazard, and we must let people know when we’re– whether it’s pesticide spraying or tearing down a building and putting netting.

The one thing that was brought to my attention by Barbie was when you said you’re a public health Nurse, they listened. And so, we really have credibility, trust. And if we can use our voice, we have tremendous power to change our community’s health in the biggest way and in the smallest way.

And as we say, it’s local to global. Because we can impact the health of every person just by changing their food, by offering them tools, and by letting them think about what are the environmental contributors to whatever is going on in my personal health situation?

Nicole Vienneau  44:06

This continuous thread of the power of a Nurse’s voice, whether it be one person or whether it be globally, but the effects are extending beyond and all it takes is one Nurse to stand up and use her voice or his voice.

So, is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

Susan Luck  44:26

We, as Nurse Coaches or potential Nurse Coaches, as holistic Nurses, we are already way beyond the constraints of understanding of the medical construct and model. And having this expanded awareness, I think we each need to ask ourselves: What is it that I could contribute to a healthier planet, a healthier community, a healthier family, and a healthier me? And starting with ourselves.

We all have health risk factors, and I would just encourage everybody to take a moment, read labels in your foods, in your personal care product. Go on the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) website, Google an article on heavy metals in the brain, on pesticides and cancer, whatever you see in your community or whatever is of interest to you, and find healthier alternatives. And I think that’s a beautiful way to participate in this process of health for our communities.

Nicole Vienneau  45:52

Health for our communities. Yes.

Well, Susan, we are going to include links to all of the textbooks, all of the articles and the different resources that you’ve mentioned here in our podcast. But we’d also like to know how we can reach you.

Susan Luck  46:11

Okay, I would say I’m best reached at my email, which is sluck@inursecoach.com. And I will be happy to share any information that I can or anything that is of interest to you, if I can help lead you and steer you in a direction for more health. For example, there’s an environmental health conference coming up, it will be online, toward the end of this month, that I will be attending.

And the main focus is two things that I mentioned. One is heavy metals and the other is mold exposures and toxicity. So, I’m really looking forward to learning more about what I can learn. There’s always more to learn.

Nicole Vienneau  47:05

Wonderful. Always seeking new opportunities to learn things to help our fellow humans on our journey. Well, thank you, Susan, so much, for sharing all of this incredible information, so many wonderful nuggets that we can take away with us and explore in our own worlds. And we just thank you so much for your time.

Susan Luck  47:28

Thank you, Nicole. Thank you for inviting me and thank you all who listened to this. I hope a couple of the pearls resonated and I wish you all good health.

Email Susan at sluck@inursecoach.com

Nurse Coaching:  Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing Textbook 

The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide to Coaching Scope and Competencies, 2nd Edition 

Environmental Working Group

The American Holistic Nurse Beginning’s magazine

Earthrose Institute

 

 

 

 

 

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