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  • Ep30: Nurses: The Powerful Future of Functional Medicine

Ep30: Nurses: The Powerful Future of Functional Medicine

Brigitte in the snow

Brigitte Sager, MSN, RN, ARNP, FNP-C, NCMP, NC-BC

Course Creator // Functional Medicine for Nurses

Brigitte has always had a passion for patient empowerment, education, and healing. After eight years as a critical care float nurse, Brigitte attended Georgetown University and became a family nurse practitioner.

 

During her four years as a primary care provider, she began studying functional medicine, and became a board certified menopause practitioner & nurse coach (through INCA). Currently, she has a functional medicine consulting practice and teaches nursing students.

 

In her practice, she combines her training in functional medicine with her nurse coaching skills to help clients make real, positive changes towards a happier and healthier life. She has studied functional medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) & School of Applied Functional Medicine (SAFM). She is also completing her doctorate of nursing (DNP) through Washington State University.

Summary of Education

  • Georgetown University- Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Washington State University- Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing
  • Institute for Functional Medicine
  • School of Applied Functional Medicine
  • Integrative Nurse Coach™ Certificate Program

Accreditation

  • AANP Family Nurse Practitioner board certification
  • North American Menopause Society (NAMS) board certification
  • AHNA Holistic Nurse Coaching board certification
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) member
  • North American Menopause Society (NAMS) member
  • American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) member
  • Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) member

contact@inursecoach.com

Ep30: Nurses: The Powerful Future of Functional Medicine Highlights

“When you use functional medicine, you find the “why” for someone, and it is always about their lifestyle, their exposures, their thought processes, everything that really aligned with Nurse Coaching for me, because I was able to help people guide through that process.

It was really fundamental Nursing practice. I realized that RNs are really the future of functional medicine, in my opinion. The skills we get in Nursing school just need to be lit up, and we can really help people heal.”  ~Brigitte Sager, MSN, RN, ARNP, FNP-C, NCMP, NC-BC

Ah-Ha’s

  • The functional medicine model is a personalized, patient-centered, science-based approach empowering patients and practitioners to become partners to promote optimal wellness and address underlying causes of disease. Coupling this approach the unique skillset and knowledge of a Nurse’s art and science foundation just makes sense!
  • Functional medicine seeks to find the ‘why’ for someone through a collaborative approach
  • Functional medicine supports lifestyle strategies and helping patient, clients and communities implement them into their busy lives
  • Let’s stop underestimating the solid foundation that Nurses already have.  Our education sets us up for success like no other profession.  This is why Nurses can do anything and be successful!
  • Nurse, you are ready!  Never undervalue yourself.  Set healthy boundaries.  Make connections.
  • Healing is the future of healthcare, and that is who we are as Nurses

Links and Resources

Functional Medicine for Nurses™ Course

Integrative Nurse Coach Academy Integrative Nurse Coach Certification Program

Institute for Functional Medicine

Harmony Hill, Union, WA

Ep30: Nurses: The Powerful Future of Functional Medicine Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

Welcome, everyone, to Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! My name is Nicole Vienneau. I’m your host and I’m also a Board-Certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And today it is exciting because we have Brigitte Sager. She’s from Washington State. She is a graduate, of course, of the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy.

She is an experienced family Nurse practitioner. She previously practiced in primary care, and before that, critical care float for almost 10 years. She’s a Board-Certified Nurse Coach, a Board-Certified Menopause Practitioner, and a Functional Medicine Practitioner, and Nurse educator.

And so cool because we have been seeing each other over the years doing amazing things, and we finally get to sit down and talk today. And I am so looking forward to our conversation because Brigitte has done amazing work in the area of functional medicine for Nurses. And she’s created this amazing program for the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy in Functional Medicine for Nurses.

She’s the lead faculty, she’s the creator, and she is doing incredible work. And I’m so excited to have her on the podcast today, one: to talk about her amazing history, but also to let us know about this incredible Functional Medicine for Nurses™ program. So, welcome, Brigitte.

Brigitte Sager  01:25

Thank you so much. I totally agree that it’s due time for us to meet and talk.

Nicole Vienneau  01:30

And I love this because I always say this is like virtual tea. We’re having some virtual tea; we’re talking about all the things we love.

Brigitte Sager  01:38

Absolutely.

Nicole Vienneau  01:40

So, we’d love to take a little trip down to history lane, and just asking the question of how did you discover Nursing and what brought you to it?

Brigitte Sager  01:50

Okay, so that story is that I was pregnant with my first son, and I was watching all those videos, you may remember in the early 2000s, there were all of these shows on like TLC about birthing stories. And I got to where I could see the story unfolding, where like women were told what day they were going to go into labor, how they were going to have their baby — they go to the hospital, get Pitocin, end up with a C section.

I just started to see the pattern and realized that women were kind of giving up that belief in their bodies when they went into the medical system. And it really fired me up. And so I went to school to become a midwife. And while I was in Nursing school, I kind of realized that the whole human body was really interesting to me.

And it wasn’t just midwifery, but also working in that system in my area didn’t seem to be something that was going to be easy to do. So, I ended up working at my local hospital. I did float and did critical care float and a lot of cardiology during that time. And then I ended up getting my Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Georgetown University in 2016. And then I practiced primary care for about four years after that.

Nicole Vienneau  03:01

I love this history. I’m always so jazzed up to hear how Nurses, fellow Nurses, figure out how they want to become a Nurse. And yours is interesting, so interesting, because here you are watching TV shows, which of course, they have this almost weird perception of Nursing, right?

But then you connected it to women, and that they were giving up their own power when they got into the medical system. And then you decided: oh, well, I’m going to be a midwife. And then realized: no, there’s more to this. I could become a Nurse. Then moving into becoming a Nurse practitioner after some years in critical care float and doing all of that. And so where did all of this end up?

Brigitte Sager  03:48

So, this is my “how I discovered Nurse Coaching” too. So, I was at a conference that I had gone to like two years before. Similar speakers, similar topics, but the update of it. And so I was sitting in this conference with over 100 — easily — physicians, PAs, Nurse practitioners.

And I was excited because I’m really interested in gut health and they were going to talk about the new advances in IBS — I think was the title or something similar. So, I’m ready for this one. I’ve been looking forward to it. And it’s the same speaker from two years before.

And he pulls up his slides, and they are exactly the same as two years before, and the recommendations were the same as they had been two years before. I know a lot of folks when I talked to Nurse practitioners about that realization when you leave Nursing school and Nursing practice and you go to Nurse practitioner school, you’re learning those algorithms to do the medical model.

So, it steps a little bit away from Nursing sometimes and that can be a little heartbreaking. So, that’s how I felt in that conference where I wasn’t getting any new tools. I definitely wasn’t getting any Nursing tools to help people with IBS and the treatments were still a little archaic for me. So, rather than continue to listen to him repeat the same lecture, I started looking on my phone for something different.

And I had kind of come across it before, but INCA was going to be at Harmony Hill, which is near my home in Washington. And so I decided to go, and then one of my good friends ended up going with me. So, I did the Nurse Coaching program with them, and that really just changed my perspective on the role of Nurses. And it’s definitely opened up my thought processes on what Nurses are capable of, for sure.

Nicole Vienneau  05:31

I often hear from Nurse practitioners — almost like a dichotomy, in a way — I want to advance my degree, I want to work as a Nurse practitioner, but yet, you have to almost step into the medical model, like you were saying. You step into the medical model, you learn the protocols, the algorithms.

What I heard you say was that that was heartbreaking for you to move away from Nursing and the way you were practicing in Nursing. And then I love how you’re like: I gotta find something different. And this is a process, I think, all Nurses do, right? When they realize: oh, this isn’t exactly what I was looking for.

But so let me look for something that does call to me. And then you found Nurse Coaching. And you got to do it at Harmony Hill, which is another wonderful healing space in Washington. I’ve been there, I just love that space. And I love how you also got to take the course — the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy Nurse Coach certificate program — with your friend.

Brigitte Sager  06:29

Yeah, one of my good friends. And then I have made some amazing friends in the process also, which is one of my favorite things about it.

Nicole Vienneau  06:36

It’s so true. I love our community. Our community — we’re very blessed to come from all walks of life, all styles of Nursing. I just so appreciate our community.

So, let’s take a step further in this. And so you found Nurse Coaching, you also have a desire and a love of functional medicine. And so tell us your process of your vision for creating a Functional Medicine for Nurses™ program.

Brigitte Sager  07:06

So, I had been learning functional medicine, and I’d always joked like: oh, if I get another degree, it’s probably going to be in nutrition because what I’m doing now isn’t working, right? My step to become a Nurse practitioner didn’t get me that healing understanding I wanted for people. So, I started studying functional medicine, not really realizing it was exactly what I’d been looking for.

And so it really fired me up. Definitely all consuming, like night and day, all the time, like trying to learn more. So, I took several super respected programs and lots of little side things all the time to learn as much as I could. And I had already been building my Nurse Coaching practice on the side while I was doing primary care.

So, as I was trying to fold functional medicine into primary care, for me, I’m very science brained about the details and I want to know everything. And when you have a consulting practice in functional medicine, you can really get a huge intake on people and spend a ton of time with them. And that was like simmering in the back of my mind, that I really… that was where I knew I wanted to go.

And incorporating functional medicine into… it’s totally possible to incorporate it into any type of practice. So, I have friends in cardiology, I have friends in every aspect of Nursing. Cardiology is always my example because it sounds so scientific, but you can use so much from functional medicine to heal people in cardiology practices. So, that one’s always my favorite example.

But I didn’t feel like I was able to hear that whole story. And I worked for this corporation that’s kind of gobbled up my whole community. And they were pushing me to see people faster and faster. So, rather than trying to find a way to do it quickly, I decided that what was best for me and my — what I believe in Dharma, like why we’re here —  really believe that mine is functional medicine and to empower other Nurses in this way.

So, I folded it into my Nurse Coaching practice, instead. And so I had already had that business and began to practice functional medicine with my coaching. While I was doing that, Karen Avino reached out to me — who, you know, is one of the leading folks at INCA. And so she had been one of the biggest influences for me when I was in my coaching program.

We’d spent a lot of time together. And she asked me if we could talk about what I’ve been up to lately. And so we had a Zoom meeting, and we were talking about the courses I’ve been taking and what I’ve been learning, and she asked me to build this course and I just… I said yes.

And then I got off the call and I went and told my boyfriend. I was like: I don’t even think that I’m qualified to do this. Like, I definitely had impostor syndrome about it. And then, you know, we talked about it and I was like: I could talk about functional medicine for days without stopping and it really gives me that… Nurses don’t recognize that role that they could play in that.

And that’s what I want to teach. And that’s why I want to, you know, totally to connect with you today is to talk about that — that the more I learned about functional medicine and the different avenues that I learned it in, it was all getting all these other practitioners up to speed with basic Nursing foundations that we learned in Nursing school.

And I realized that those are the things that heal people. And they’re the things that we undervalue in our training. You know, we graduate from Nursing school, and then we start going and helping people get their prescriptions filled, and take medications and get ready for surgery.

And when you use functional medicine, you find the “why” for someone, and it is always about, you know, their lifestyle, their exposures, their thought processes, everything that really aligned with Nurse Coaching for me, because I was able to help people guide through that process.

But also, it was really fundamental Nursing practice. And I realized that RNs are really the future of functional medicine, in my opinion. Like, the skills that we get in Nursing school just need to be lit up, and we can really help people heal.

Nicole Vienneau  11:16

I appreciate this connection to Nurses. And the basic skills that we learn in Nursing school can be connected to functional medicine, and I’m hoping you’re going to dive into that a little bit more. First off, I did want to just clarify for people, for our listeners, the Functional Medicine for Nurses™ program is not just for Nurse practitioners, right?

Brigitte Sager  11:39

No, yep.

Nicole Vienneau  11:40

Tell us more about that so our listeners really understand that.

Brigitte Sager  11:44

Yeah, it is a course that is for RNs and advanced practice Nurses, whether they’re CRNA or Nurse practitioner. Honestly, in my practice — because we talk about this a lot in the program — in my practice, definitely at least 95% of what I do is RN level work. I don’t do a lot of… I don’t prescribe anything really anymore.

I order lab work when it’s essential. And when I still worked in the allopathic model, one of my co-workers said, “Oh, functional medicine, that’s just a bunch of expensive supplements and tests that, you know, only certain people can access.” And I definitely disagree. I think that there’s a stereotype.

And people often will say that they practice functional medicine with different sets of training. But true functional medicine is finding the reason that somebody has a medical problem or symptoms, and helping heal that — remove what is going on and then healing that.

And so in that process, I sometimes will have someone use supplements to heal that. And then sometimes we notice deficiencies for them, like nutritionally, that we might support. If that’s because their digestion isn’t great, and we tune that up, that’s not necessarily something they’re going to need long term.

The other thing that we talk a lot about is the testing part. And we talk about scope of practice, and we do research during the course in what is your scope of practice in your area, in your country or in your state? And what can you do? And the testing part, often, you know, you listen to somebody and you use your Nurse Coaching skills to truly hear somebody’s story.

And the “why” and the “when did this start?” What happened right before that? And you find the “why” without a bunch of tests. And so we work around that concept through the course — that testing is available, and there’s a lot of it. And it’s really fun and sciency. And I really enjoy digging deep into those kinds of things.

But also, it’s really about this idea that I teach, that I think it’s a very good example. When I was younger, I was a vet tech and animals would come in with diabetes, but they had that look of their owner, almost, you know? And I started to think about the fact that animals in the wild don’t get all these chronic health conditions.

When we bring animals into our home, and we control their environment, it may be stressful for them, they may get poor sleep, we control their diet, we control every aspect of their life. And then they begin to develop all these same conditions that we as humans do. And their prevalence rates have been increasing just as rapidly as ours have.

And meanwhile, if you take wild animals — a really good example is like animals that live in the ocean — until they get exposed to something that we’ve created, they tend to not have the same health conditions that we do. But when you take animals and put them in an aquarium, and they’re in a small environment with controlled water conditions and what they’re eating is controlled, they generally end up on the exact same medications as we do.

Even aquatic animals will end up on acid blocking medications because they’re developing ulcers when they’re in these environments. I think we have been taught in our system that our bodies break and that we are destined to inherit what our families have inherited. And what you find when you learn functional medicine is that it is really that we are activating genes.

So, maybe our culture is more likely to have a condition than another one, but we still need that set of circumstances to activate our genes. And that’s what’s happening. The prevalence rate of almost every chronic condition is rapidly increasing, despite all of our allopathic knowledge and medications and surgeries, because we have changed our lifestyle from 100 years ago to now.

We’re living quite differently than we used to. And our body is really intelligent and trying to balance that and heal, but there’s definitely a tipping point. So, that is what I help students identify and recognize — they already had a lot of that knowledge for how to address that. But we definitely go a lot deeper than that in the course.

But it’s very empowering. It’s really remarkable to see. I love reading, you know, the students’ comments and things through the program, and just, we all meet and talk sometimes. And it’s just incredible to see that transformation.

Nicole Vienneau  15:59

Yes. And listening to the person’s story and diving deep with them — I mean, that’s a whole piece that we learned in Nurse Coaching. And then now we’re coupling it with this new information in the functional medicine world. And then it’s almost like it’s enhancing that ability for Nurses.

Brigitte Sager  16:17

Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, one thing we talked about that I think is an interesting concept is in functional medicine, you need more information from your client, right? You need the whole story. And so when you have taken Nurse Coaching training, and you’re armed with all those open-ended questions, and awesome listening skills, and you create space and time for that, that’s really powerful.

And it gets to the bottom of things. But what’s interesting that happens is like, for me, my clients seek me out, right? And then they have chosen to make a decision. They want to get better, they want to heal, and they know that it’s going to take work if they’re going to work with me. And they’re really excited for that.

But what if their idea of that is exercise or nutrition? They want me to help them realize what foods they may want to target in on. And then we instead find out that it’s a toxic relationship that they have. Maybe that isn’t something that they were ready for. And so, although I do tend to have really motivated clients, we never know what direction we’re going to go in when we start digging for a cause.

And Nurse Coaching can be really powerful there, because then we can identify those discrepancies and help them. You know, we can really have those difficult conversations and work towards their goals, which is remarkable.

But it’s definitely something we talk a lot about in the program — that you’ll… depending on what avenue you practice this in, you may use Nurse Coaching a lot, or it may be something that you kind of sprinkle into what you’re doing through the day.

Nicole Vienneau  17:51

Beautiful, beautiful. I just want to tap back into what you were talking about with related to the behaviors and the lifestyle, and that we’re not just our genes. You know, just because my grandmother, she happened to have, you know, 12… 13 strokes in her life, but it doesn’t mean that I am going to have 12 or 15 strokes. It doesn’t mean that. So, tell us a little bit more about what power we have in our life.

Brigitte Sager  18:23

Yeah, absolutely. I grew up in the South, and so we had a lot of gravy. And I like to use that example.

Nicole Vienneau  18:30

Mmm, gravy.

Brigitte Sager  18:31

Yeah. And so if I were to continue to eat that way for the rest of my life, I would probably have the exact or very similar health outcomes to other people in my family, right? Because we inherit not just our genes, we inherit our habits, we inherit, you know, how we care for ourselves, and how much we prioritize sleep, and healthy boundaries in our relationships, what we eat.

A really great example of this is in Japan, there is a history of a high prevalence of stomach cancer, which is almost non-existent anywhere else in the world, or some other unique areas. But what happened was in the 1980s, 1990s, they started to say: why do we have so much stomach cancer?

And they’re not experiencing it in other parts of the world. And they found that it was related to the way that they processed and preserved their foods. And when they educated their communities on that and they changed that, the prevalence of them having stomach cancer occur drastically dropped. And that is my favorite example, because it was a national campaign of a fairly unified genetic culture, right?

We’re going to inherit this because we are of Japanese descent, possibly. And that’s a fear that people live with, that they’re going to inherit what their family has inherited. And when you take that one aspect and say: okay, let’s change your diet. They got the education and changed their diets and then that isn’t their fate anymore.

And that is a national example of, culturally, what I teach my clients, is that if you eat the same way that your grandmother did, and your parents did, and they all had diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, strokes, you will probably activate your genes the same way that they did.

But if you activate your genes in a different way, if you make different choices, and we work together to identify what those would be to optimally care for them, that is so empowering. And turning on that light bulb for someone is such an interesting process. Because what I see happen when I see my clients is we’ll do some interventions, I’ll send them home with some activities or, you know, maybe an elimination diet or something,

And they come back, and they’re not just identifying other things about their food, but then it’s turned on that light that they’re noticing other things in their life. I noticed I didn’t sleep well last night, and then my headache was worse the next day. Everything else starts to make more sense for them, that it really is what’s going on.

Nicole Vienneau  21:04

Such a great explanation. Thank you for sharing all of that. Yeah, I love this connection, as people start to explore, and they’ve become more self-aware of what’s going on in their life, and how they can really own and be an active part of their health and wellbeing. Beautiful.

So what can Nurses and Nurse Coaches and Nurse practitioners expect when they sign up for the Functional Medicine for Nurses course with Integrative Nurse Coach Academy?

Brigitte Sager  21:37

Okay, so it is a 12-week course. What I did in developing the course is I looked at everything that I had learned about functional medicine. And I had taken courses that were much longer and realized that most of that was getting other folks that weren’t up to speed on basic Nursing stuff. So, I have like, on a topic, maybe we have an overview to remind Nurses of what they learned in Nursing school, and then we expand on that.

So, the first couple of weeks, it’s foundations of functional medicine, and we talk about scope of practice. And then we start to build into weeks that are targeted into different topics. We do a lot on gut health and nutrition. Definitely on the website there’s a breakdown of each week.

So, through the progression of the course, it’s this ability to start asking those questions and look for the “why” for people. And that gets built into the course. Each week the students are going to be… I have like lectures for them, we provide a lot of resources, then we have activities for them to do to kind of build on that.

And four times in the course, we have Zoom meetings that are optional for attendance. They can watch them later if they want to. But it’s a really great opportunity for us to connect and talk about our journey through functional medicine. And I really love those conversations. Those are really powerful conversations for everybody that attends and everybody that listens afterwards.

Nicole Vienneau  23:00

I keep hearing this connection back to Nursing, and that Nurses already have this foundation that other healthcare providers don’t have. And I just really honor and respect you for pointing that out. And I think that some of our listeners might be nervous, like: oh, I can’t take functional medicine, you know, that’s way beyond my scope. And I know that you’ve spoken a little bit about this at the beginning, but just really outline that for Nurses listening, of how that connection kind of works.

Brigitte Sager  23:30

There’s no way for me, when somebody comes into the course, to tell them what their scope of practice is for their state or their area. But what we find is the common theme is educator. Nurses are educators. And that’s what we do innately. And so when you practice functional medicine, you are helping somebody identify the root cause of their issues, right?

And a really good example is when I see somebody that has a lot of anxiety, or any brain health conditions, the first thing that I ask them about is sleep. How many hours are they getting? Are they getting seven to eight? If they aren’t, I educate them on the fact that that, you know, seven to eight hours of sleep is what 95% of people need to not have a health condition develop over time from lack of sleep.

We can have that as a first line goal. And when a Nurse and a Nurse Coach takes the time to educate someone on that topic, and then help them identify where they could make small changes to get there. And then we talk about a ton of tools for sleep in the program.

So, folding all that in helps somebody do something really fundamental that sounds so simple, but it’s life-changing for somebody to get restorative sleep — that they actually feel rested in the morning and that they can cope with maybe the other five things that we’re working on. So, in the program, we identify all these areas for Nurses to offer that education and help somebody identify with the root causes, and then offer the education for them to see what possible solutions might be.

One thing that people get hung up on a lot is supplements. The question that I ask people is: how often does somebody come to you with a sprained wrist, just as a Nurse friend, and say, “Oh, hey, I sprained my wrist, what should I do?” And we say, “Take some Tylenol, take some ibuprofen.”

You know, it’s a really go-to thing for Nurses to recommend over the counter products without thinking twice about it, but it creates a lot of anxiety when people think about doing it in a functional medicine practice. And so I try to bring it back to that, is like we do this all day long.

You see some lab work that your patient got from their primary care provider, and they have low vitamin D, we innately tell them: oh, that’s available over the counter, you should go grab that. What we don’t do is understand how important that vitamin D is. The role of nutrients in our cellular health and our ability to have optimal functioning of each part of our body is very undervalued in our health care system.

And so we address that and I feel like the students that have taken the course definitely feel really comfortable with that by the end of the course, where it’s like: okay, I am just educating them on, you know, most people with low vitamin D may experience X,Y and Z, here’s some benefits I’ve seen to supplementing with that.

And you’ve mentioned that you have the example I like to use a lot, is magnesium, you know, over 50%, maybe 60% of adults in America are deficient in magnesium. And it isn’t being repleted in the soil where the same foods being grown for the last 100 years, there’s no focus on those nutrients being repleted.

And when they’re testing food from several decades ago, and comparing it to now, there is less nutritional value in the foods that we’re buying — the exact same items. So, when I have somebody that tells me that they have a lot of headaches and muscle tension, and maybe they’re anxious, and they have trouble sleeping, my wheels start turning.

There’s 50 reasons for all of those, but one of them that’s a common theme is magnesium. And it’s so common as a deficiency in our culture, that I educate my clients on that. And that is RN level scope of practice, to say: you know, you’ve mentioned these four symptoms, I’ve seen a lot of people have this deficiency.

And, you know, the important thing with magnesium is there’s several types, and people don’t know which one to choose, because each one has a different action in the body. So, we learn that, and then they feel empowered to say, you know, this is the best choice for you to try to see if this might be what’s going on.

And of course, you could get testing, right? It’s not super reliable to get testing for magnesium, but some people choose to do that. What I like to do is if their kidney function’s normal, I don’t see any big risk in them doing an experiment where I say, you know, go take this one for a few weeks, and then let’s have another visit and see how you’re feeling.

If your headaches are better, your muscle tension is better, you’re sleeping better, your anxiety is better, then I think we hit the nail on the head. And sometimes we’re wrong, and we say: okay, what’s another thing that could be the root cause of that, and we work away at those things until we find what’s specific for that individual person.

Nicole Vienneau  28:10

I love this. In our present healthcare system, we don’t often have the opportunity to really connect with our healthcare provider in this way. Where we are on a continuous journey together, where the Nurse Coach — the Nurse taking the Functional Medicine for Nurses™ program — is connecting the dots with the patient and then journeying with them, following up and realizing and listening for all of these key things that the person is sharing with them to really find out and uncover, you know, the best plan of action. I just love this. It just makes complete sense.

Okay, so let’s move on to just two more questions. You up for two more questions, Brigitte?

Brigitte Sager  28:54

Absolutely.

Nicole Vienneau  28:55

Okay. Love it. So, what advice do you have for Nurse Coaches?

Brigitte Sager  29:01

I have a couple things that… I’m really good friends with some of the folks that I did my Nurse Coaching program with, so we’ll meet up either virtually or in person and talk about our journeys. And a common theme when I left my Nurse Coaching school and then started to study for my board certification, and we all wondered about — how much do you charge?

And so in the functional medicine program, we talk about that, and my favorite example is how much will somebody pay for a massage? People will easily give someone $100 for a massage. And what do they want from that massage? They want more than that massage is going to give them.

They want to feel healed. They want to feel better. People want their chronic conditions to go away. And so that $100 massage might get them some relaxation and some loosening of some muscles, maybe alleviate some pain. But then Nurses — we aren’t trained in a model of being an entrepreneur or charging for our services, and we give them away for free all the time.

You know, people ask us for medical advice. But what is the value? This is what I ask my students. What is the value in what you have to offer for an hour for somebody? Is it worth $100 if you help them realize that there’s a food reaction that they haven’t identified that’s causing their chronic condition?

And you’re able to help them identify that; teach them how to heal from that. And maybe they don’t even need a chronic prescription anymore that they’ve been on for years. We address autoimmune diseases in the course, among other things, and it is completely possible to reverse these autoimmune conditions.

And if somebody works with you for a few months, and they pay you $100 an hour for your time — which probably sounds crazy to most Nurses — but if you heal their health condition that was going to maybe cost them years or decades of their life, that is worth so much to them. And so I teach to not undervalue what we have to offer.

The other thing that I think is a really important topic is that we as Nurses also don’t recognize that we’re ready. And so when we finish Nurse Coaching, we’re like: oh, should we even charge for this, because who am I? But the reality is that people can find anything they want to know more about online right now— they can go read about 50 diets that might heal their health condition, or lots of topics on their health and wellness, but it’s very confusing.

And the thing that we can offer as Nurse Coaches is a safe space to discover underlying root causes for things — do some functional medicine work. But also they want guidance and accountability, and a listening person to hear their story and help them uncover things. But people want someone to help them navigate all this confusing information that they’re exposed to every day.

And so that’s definitely what a Nurse Coach can offer someone that is very undervalued, is just that, to be that person for them, and to help them navigate that system. And so beyond that, I think, you know, we talk in the course about healthy boundaries and working with clients. But it is not a business course.

And I try to make sure people know that from the start. I’m not going to teach people how to build a business. What tends to happen though, is when you go to Nurse Coaching training, and you learn functional medicine, people start to think more like an entrepreneur. And some people do fold this into their practices in allopathic medicine, and it’s really helpful for their patients and clients.

But there’s also this idea that if you do start to become an entrepreneur, I really encourage people to make friends and connections online, in their coaching program. Becoming an entrepreneur, I read recently, it can be a lonely, lonely place. And I think that’s true.

And luckily for us, as Nurse Coaches, it’s easy to reach out to some of our friends and stay connected and play off of each other in that way, you know? Nobody’s more empowering than me and my good friends, that are Nurse Coaches, to tell each other how great we’re going to do everything we set out for.

Nicole Vienneau  33:18

Absolutely. So true. So true. So, what I heard you say — a few things I heard you say — one: don’t undervalue yourself as a Nurse, as a Nurse Coach, as a human being, don’t undervalue yourself. Find your boundaries, ensure your boundaries. Know that you’re ready, you’re ready to take the step and get going in whatever it is that you’re desiring to do in your life and in your profession. Make connections because connections are super important. And just go for it. That’s what I’m hearing you say — just go for it.

Brigitte Sager  33:57

Yeah, people need us. You know, that’s a big thing. People need us. What I didn’t mention yet about the course that I think is really exciting is our third cohort is coming up. And so we’re going to have that starting in the beginning of August. But we have been working with the Institute for Functional Medicine to have a collaborative relationship moving forward with this, which is incredibly exciting.

Because if you don’t know, the Institute for Functional Medicine is just where it’s at as far as functional medicine, and they do a lot of the research and produce guidelines for practice. And I have done their training and I definitely adore it. It’s a little bit more medical than the Nursing part.

And it’s part of the reason that I think this program is so unique, is because this is really about RN scope of practice, Nurse practitioners, what we can incorporate into what our passion is — having that connection with them. And as we’re moving forward, this is going to grow. I know this is the future of healthcare.

And the idea that when I ask Nurses, I ask this question often: why did you go to Nursing school? And it is never to give out medications or to get somebody ready for surgery, right? People went to Nursing school… the answers I get is to help people, to teach people to heal, to empower people. You know, for me, the ideas of healing and empowerment were the reasons that I went to Nursing school.

And the whole time, until I found functional medicine, I just kept feeling frustrated that I hadn’t found that yet. And now, I like literally help people heal. And it’s just… it’s incredible. So, I want to give that to everybody else that went to school to do the same passionate work that I did, because it’s amazing.

Nicole Vienneau  35:42

Awesome. And we’re so thankful that you stepped up. I love the story of you being asked by Karen Avino, who… Karen Avino tends to see strength in people very easily. So, we thank Karen for that. She saw that in you, she asked you. I just loved your explanation of like: yes, I’ll say yes.

And then getting off the phone, saying to your boyfriend: oh my gosh, what’d I get myself into? Am I ready? You said that, too. And now, you said yes anyways, and you dove in, and you took this on. And now you’re coming up to your third cohort, teaching Nurses functional medicine.

And now there’s a collaboration with the Institute for Functional Medicine in the works. And this is incredible work. So, thank you, Brigitte, for advancing all of us in the process and helping us see that there are many ways to go about healing ourselves and healing our communities. So, thank you so much.

Brigitte Sager  36:42

Absolutely. I am so thrilled that we got to talk about this today.

Nicole Vienneau  36:46

Yes. And I have one more question, because I said I had two. And that would be: what would you say to Nurses from your heart?

Brigitte Sager  36:58

We had a calling in life to do something. And I think that everyone does. I honestly believe that we’re all here for something, and I have taken a little crooked road to find mine. And now that I’m here, it’s just thrilling. And I’ve had so many friends step away from practices in the last few years that were taking a toll on their health and their happiness.

And I think the future of Nursing starts with all of us realizing the toll that the healthcare model has taken on us as Nurses. And so many Nurses are seeking something different right now. And it’s so exciting that we can start to look at Nursing as its own practice.

I read a scope of practice note from a student recently that was talking about when she graduated from Nursing school, what her scope of practice looked like in her state, and what it looks like now, and that back then it was: do what the physician’s orders were. But now her scope of practice is 100% autonomous, independent practice as an educator and a healer.

And she had never looked at it and was so excited to see that. And I think that’s such a good example of, you know, we don’t need more Prozac in the society, right? That’s what Mark Hyman always says, who’s a very respected Functional Medicine Practitioner.

We’re not deficient in Prozac. We are deficient in knowledge. We are deficient in peace and happiness and nutritious food and restorative sleep. And Nursing is like: that’s where we can just swoop in and really make a huge change in the healthcare system that is failing all of us right now.

Nicole Vienneau  38:37

Yes, ma’am. I love it. I love this. You can find all the information on the Functional Medicine for Nurses™ course at the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy at inursecoach.com/fm4n. And, of course, I’m going to be sharing this link for everybody in the show notes. And Brigitte, how can people find you if they’re looking for you?

Brigitte Sager  39:08

I have a website: manifestwellbeing.com. That’s for my practice, and I see clients in Washington state based on my licensure. And then also, you know, you can connect if you have questions about the course, we have the contact at inursecoach.com to get more information about the program, too.

Nicole Vienneau  39:20

Awesome. And I will put those links into the show notes. And Nurses, Nurse practitioners, Nurse Coaches — we have our next Functional Medicine for Nurses™ program starting in August. So thank you, Brigitte, so much for spending some time with us today.

Brigitte Sager  39:45

Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

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