Ep45: Behind the Scenes of Nurse Coaching- Ronald Kanka, BS Transcript
Nicole Vienneau 00:01
Welcome, everyone, to Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! My name is Nicole Vienneau. I am your host and I’m also a Board-Certified Integrative Nurse Coach. And I cannot tell you how excited I am to have our next guest on our podcast today. We have been working behind the scenes loving and nurturing and hoping that Ronald Kanka would show up on our podcast.
And he agreed. I’m so excited! We are going to get a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy through the lens of Ronald Kanka. So, we are super excited to welcome Ronald aka Ronnie, aka RDK, aka most awesome human on the planet.
Ronald Kanka 00:59
Thank you, Nicole. Thank you. Yeah, I’m excited to be here. I mean, I know we were… we were trying to get me to do this for some time, and I felt a little out of place because I’m not a Nurse, I’m not a Nurse Coach. And you know, we started this podcast with the idea of amplifying Nurse Coaching voices. But you talked me into it, here I am.
Nicole Vienneau 01:20
Woo! The thing is, is that Nurse Coaching would not be where it is today without your passion, your dedication, your devotion to this work.
Ronald Kanka 01:36
Aw, are you trying to make me cry already?
Nicole Vienneau 01:38
Maybe! Seriously, though, yeah, seriously. So, it is only fitting that you come on our podcast. I consider you to be an honorary Nurse Coach. And I know so many of us do. Because of the work and dedication, devotion that you’ve given us. So, we love to go a little bit back in history, learn a little bit about each of our guests. So, I’d love to just open this up for you to share with us a little bit about your history.
Ronald Kanka 02:16
Oh man, starting from when? Starting from childhood?
Nicole Vienneau 02:18
Anywhere that you think.
Ronald Kanka 02:20
Sure. So, I’m originally from New York, Long Island. I moved to Miami for school in 2008. While I was in school, I got a job for the University of Miami, Complementary and Integrative Medicine Department. And while I was there, one of the programs that we put together was the Clinical Nutrition and Functional Medicine— it was geared towards physicians, but all health practitioners were welcome.
And one of the days, you know, someone registered named Susan Luck. And that’s kind of how I got started with INCA for sure. She would come to all… we had meetings, live in person meetings, on Saturdays, and she would attend every single one, whether they were, you know, 100 person conferences, or 10 person, little, small groups we had.
And eventually she started leading some of the small groups. And we got to talking. She knew I was in school and working full-time at the same time, and she realized… you know, she said to me, “Hey, how would you feel about working from home, you know, doing something similar to what you’re doing here, but from home on your own hours?” And, you know, I was like, ah, that kind of sounds like a good plan. And that was 2014. You know, here we are, what is it, nine years later.
Nicole Vienneau 03:39
Amazing. One thing I always loved about our co-founder of the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, International Nurse Coach Association, Susan Luck— may she rest in peace— is her ability to see the strengths in people she met.
Ronald Kanka 03:58
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I worked so closely with Susan, I mean, from when I started, right until the end, she really was very active in INCA until the end. And I helped her with everything from, you know, I was her tech support, I was… organized, you know, all the hotels for all the programs because we were on site at the time. And of course with Barbie, too, just Barbie was in New Mexico, so it was a lot of zoom.
Nicole Vienneau 04:25
Yeah, you were such a support at the beginning of really their vision of Nurse Coaching, right? So, maybe you can tell us a little bit about that. What did that look like, working directly with our co-founders, Susan Luck and Barbara Dossey?
Ronald Kanka 04:41
It was exciting. So, it was evolving and still is evolving. Figure I started when they were in… cohort four was just finishing. I think that was your cohort.
Nicole Vienneau 04:41
It was my cohort!
Ronald Kanka 04:49
Yeah, yeah. And it’s funny, too, sometimes I’ll see people’s names now, you know, alumni names, and I’m like, oh that’s cohort six or eight, oh, cohort four, oh, cohort nine. Like it just stuck for some reason. But oh, yeah, it was very exciting.
I mean, you know, at the time, as you know, everything was on site, so people were flying from all over the place to come to wherever, you know, it was, whether it was in Seattle, or it was in New York or Boston… where else did we go? San Diego, where I am right now.
So, you know, that was super exciting, and there was a different component to it than what there is now. The travel planning and making sure the hotels were booked and the meals and all… that piece, which I miss sometimes. I miss doing some of that. It’s kind of like my, in another life, I would like to be like a travel coordinator, because my passion is traveling, and especially finding people deals for travel using like points and stuff.
And I follow all of those, like the points guy, and all that kind of stuff. That’s my secret hobby there. Yeah, so it was very exciting to just be there from when it was not really too well known, and watching it become more and more prolific. There’s no question that Barbie and Susan are, you know, the pioneers of this movement.
I’m grateful every day that I was given the opportunity. It was a risk for me at the time, going from this secure, salaried job to a contractor, because I was, you know, for Susan and Barbie, but it was definitely a worthwhile risk, for sure.
Nicole Vienneau 04:57
Yeah, you’ve been with them and been with Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, International Nurse Coach Association since 2014. So, tell us a little bit about the shift that you have seen over the years, as it’s evolved.
Ronald Kanka 06:48
In Nurse Coaching in general, right?
Nicole Vienneau 06:50
Yeah, in Nurse Coaching in general, and maybe even a little bit about, you know, the business as far as Integrative Nurse Coach Academy.
Ronald Kanka 06:58
Sure, sure. So figure, I can definitely see a shift in the demographics of the Nurses that are coming. In the beginning, it was more the experienced Nurse that was ready to, you know, maybe retire, and they wanted to know what were they going to do with their careers if they were not ready to fully retire. They wanted something else, so this coaching thing sounded very cool.
Plus, it was easier for them to, you know, maybe they had more PTO, or whatever— they had to fly somewhere and go attend a program in person. So in 2019, Barbie and Susan realized— this was before COVID, too— realized that… you know, the need to go online, to reach as many Nurses that they possibly can.
And not knocking them in any way, they are not the most tech savvy, and they knew that I was— that’s kind of my niche— and they, you know, offered to bring me on as a partner, along with Karen— Karen Avino— my partner now, she’s great. She has… her background is she has a doctorate in education, distance based education. So, the four of us together— a great team.
And you know, Barbie and Susan got a little older as well, and they didn’t want to be involved in the day-to-day as much. So Karen and I really took the reins from there, from the incredible foundation that Barbie and Susan built, and turned it into this online program where, you know, now we get Nurses from… it’s hard to even say what our demographic is, because it ranges from, you know, Nurses that just graduated— I get inquiries from Nurses still in Nursing school that are like, how can I be a Nurse Coach?
It’s really cool, it’s really cool. Which they can’t yet because of, you know, AHNCC, you have to be a Nurse for two years to take that test. But it’s really exciting to see how many Nurses we reach. And the locations, too, you know, all 50 states now. We’re in 16 or 17 countries, you know, six of seven continents— the only one not included is Antarctica. It’s pretty cool. It’s really cool.
Nicole Vienneau 09:02
Wow, it is so cool. So, you’ve seen this evolution, where at one time, we were all in person, people would travel from different parts of the country, show up— I know some international people would come— and we would show up and we’d be with each other for a certain amount of days.
And we’d go away, we’d practice our skills, and then we’d come back together again, and then kind of go and learn through the process of that.
And then in 2019, Barbie and Susan realized, oh man, we need to reach more Nurses to make it more accessible, right? Because a lot of Nurses cannot travel. You know, we have to pay our bills and we have things going on in life and whatever. But to make it more accessible, let’s go online. And that’s where you really started to even have a bigger role, even though you had been working… I know Ronnie, I mean, you and I have gone way back, too.
So, you know, we’ve shared, we’ve learned with each other, we’ve grown with each other. I consider you to be a dear friend of mine. And I love to see how you have evolved. And you’ve watched me evolve. And, you know, it’s just a beautiful friendship and support system within the Nurse Coaching community, but also with each other.
And it’s just been amazing to see how much you’ve really put into this program. And you are not a Nurse, and who cares! You have the heart and soul of Nursing right inside you. And it’s a beautiful thing to see and experience and work with you all these years.
Ronald Kanka 10:42
Thank you. In my life, I’m fine being behind the scenes in most things that I do. I’m not somebody that needs to be the speaker or the center of attention or anything like that. And at the same time, sometimes I’m behind the scenes, and I forget the impact that what I’m doing is having until I attend those graduations, when we have graduations every couple of months, and I hear all the Nurses say how this changed their lives.
And I don’t need anybody to know, like, my role in helping to make that happen. It’s not my… but just knowing, just me knowing that, like when I know that I helped to make that happen. And it makes the 12 hour days— yes, working from home or maybe on my balcony, yes— but you know, it all makes it all worth it. It does.
Nicole Vienneau 11:27
Yes, it is powerful when our Nurse Coach graduates express how much this program has impacted their lives.
Ronald Kanka 11:37
Oh, yeah, I have to go on and off camera so they don’t see me cry.
Nicole Vienneau 11:46
It’s the truth, it is touching, it really is touching. So I mentioned, you know, and you mentioned, you’re not a Nurse, yet we consider you to be an honorary Nurse… Nurse Coach. So what does that mean to you?
Ronald Kanka 12:01
Well, it really warms my heart to hear that. And at the same time, I feel like I’m cheating the system. Right? You know, when Harvard gives away like honorary PhDs, you’re like, that doesn’t really mean anything. But no, it’s an honor, by the very name, right? Honorary. Yeah, it is. It is an honor to hear that.
And I mean, I just hope that we keep it up, that everybody still get the same reviews from the course, and everybody still feels this transformation. I’m actually in San Diego right now with all of the INCCP faculty. I mean, not right now in this room, but they’re here in the hotel. And you know, we’re meeting… the main reason we’re meeting is, well, one, I haven’t met many of them in person, you know, being that we started in 2019.
And then COVID hit, you know, there’s no traveling. So this is our first time that we’re all together in one spot, and I’m super excited. Many of them are just arriving today, tomorrow. So I’m super excited. But one of the reasons that we are meeting is to go over, you know, what’s working in the course, what needs to be changed, what kind of feedback are they hearing directly from their supervisees.
Now that we have so many students, it’s hard to make sure that everybody gets what they need. I mean, we do the best we can, but now, you know, we’re going to do these annual reviews to make sure that we are meeting the needs of as many people, as many Nurses, as we can.
Nicole Vienneau 13:28
Beautiful. So, gathering in person again, did you get to use your little skills of travel person? Your travel planner?
Ronald Kanka 13:37
I did. I did. You should see I made them like pretty itineraries, I sent them on Slack before and, you know, I booked all their flights and stuff. It was nice. Karen was saying to me, she was like, “Oh my God, you want to do all that stuff?” I’m like, “I do! It’s fun!” Not that I don’t have anything else to do. No, I love doing it.
Nicole Vienneau 13:57
So you mentioned the INCCP, and so for our listeners who are not really familiar with that, it stands for the Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program, which is our foundations of Nurse Coaching. And so gathering faculty together for the first time, all of them together in person and sharing in that energy, right?
That creative energy. And all of those Nurses who are faculty for the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy are definitely on the cutting edge of Nurse Coaching and wanting to see, you know, all Nurses be successful in learning these skills and tools of Nurse Coaching. Amazing. I wish I was a little fly on the wall. I’m sure I’ll hear all the stories.
Ronald Kanka 14:47
I was gonna say you’re friends with everyone, so you’ll hear.
Nicole Vienneau 14:51
I’ll get to hear the stories. So much fun. So, let’s see, what is one hope you have for the future of Nurse Coaching?
Ronald Kanka 15:01
My main hope, really, is that Nurse Coaching becomes more of the norm than a specialty, really. I really think it should be part of every Nurse. You know, every Nurse does have some innate coaching skills, right? As part of their job, they have to. But if those were honed, refined, trained a little more, we wouldn’t see the rates that we’re seeing now with Nurses leaving Nursing.
So, you know, while I do understand the importance of it becoming a recognized ANCC specialty, really, I think the main goal, my main vision, mission here is for Nurse Coaching to be part of every Nurse’s day-to-day career, day-to-day life. Because, as you know, Nurse Coaching is, of course, used in professional settings, but it’s also in your community, right? In your personal life.
And all of everything you learn in this program and that coaching, is just comprehensive, it changes every part of your life, of how you deal with day-to-day situations, how you deal with family interactions. You know, I was just talking to one graduate yesterday, and she was like, she was saying to me, her husband was like, “Are you using that coaching crap on me right now?” I was cracking up. It’s not crap, by the way.
Nicole Vienneau 16:19
It’s totally not crap.
Ronald Kanka 16:23
But you know, if it was taught, you know, maybe if we got it taught in Nursing school a little more. Because maybe there’s some communication points touched on in Nursing school, but is it emphasized? My understanding is no.
I mean, like I’ve been saying, I haven’t been to Nursing school, but I’ve certainly talked to 1000s of Nurses now who have told me that they didn’t learn anything like this in school. So if it was maybe in place a little earlier in their career, in their education, maybe we could reduce these attrition rates.
Nicole Vienneau 16:58
I absolutely agree. I absolutely agree. When you mentioned the transformation, or you mentioned how it affects… how the learnings of Nurse Coaching affect the Nurse not only in their professional lives, but in their personal life as well. And I’m a testimony to that, for sure. I feel the skills that I’ve learned through Nurse Coaching have made me a better human.
That then trickles down to my personal life, to my professional relationships. You know, there’s a trickle down effect. It’s not just learning the skills and tools, which are great. It’s how you make those work for you in your life. And it’s a beautiful thing.
And you don’t even know that it’s happening when you’re in the course, it’s all, you know, it’s a slow transition that ends up being remarkable by the end. And it is a beautiful thing, and I enjoy hearing the stories too— the transformation. And it reinvigorates my own story, as well. And reinvigorates my own passion for this work.
Ronald Kanka 18:12
What you said just now about it being a slow transition just got me thinking about whenever we have a new part one Integrative Nurse Coach foundation start, you know, the first week or two there are some Nurses that are like, what’s happening right now? Is this it? This is like… I just had my first meeting and, you know, we kind of just talked and we did some breath exercises.
And they were thinking that it was going to be like how Nursing school was, that there was going to be a PowerPoint, and you need to do this, this and this. And it’s just not like that. And I always tell them: I promise, just give it a little more time. Just come in with a fresh perspective, no expectations of what you think it should be like. And by the end, I’ve never had any… zero out of the 1000s of Nurses have ever told me I was wrong with that. They’re always so glad to have taken the program.
Nicole Vienneau 19:05
There’s something to be said for not having PowerPoints and a set agenda that you must follow. And that’s hard for a lot of Nurses because we are taught, in Nursing school, protocol, this is how you do it, you must do it like this.
And letting go of some of that is very difficult for a Nurse at the beginning stages of Nurse Coaching in the Foundations Program,
Nicole Vienneau 19:55
When I was senior clinical faculty with the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy and I was working with my groups, it was the same thing, I got so many messages of what is this? And then I thought back to me, when I first showed up my first day, and I thought: what the hell is this? What did I sign up for? I came to learn new tools, the tips, the whatever, they’re starting with meditation, what is that?
I don’t need that. I’m not going back. This is crap, you know? We’ve mentioned crap before, we can say it again. And then I was like, no, no, something made you sign up for this, what was that? And come back and see what it is and don’t have so much set expectations, because we can’t.
When we’re so driven for the outcome, we miss the journey to the outcome. And then we’re also like forcing an outcome. And sometimes that forcing just is not freeing. And as I practice Nurse Coaching, it is more freedom in how I show up and more freedom with my patients and my clients. And, you know, and I really, truly enjoy that, because that’s more authentic to who I am.
Ronald Kanka 21:10
That makes tons of sense. And that echoes everything that I hear with the students. And one of the things now that we do, given last year’s feedback and how that was common in the beginning of foundations, is to tell them in the first meeting, you know, to unset their expectations.
Realize that this is not what they’re… this is not, you know, a didactic lecture where you’re gonna have to memorize steps 123 of doing whatever it is. It doesn’t work like that. And it’s fluid, and it’s different, and it’s beautiful.
Nicole Vienneau 21:47
Fluid. Different. Beautiful. So, what would you tell a Nurse, who is on the fence about embarking on the Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program? They haven’t signed up yet, they’re thinking about it, should I do it?
Ronald Kanka 22:05
So, it’s more like what do I tell them, because it’s definitely something that I encounter often, you know, that they’re nervous to take the plunge or you know. And it kind of depends a lot on the advertising that they have seen, because not only do we have different advertising objectives, because there are Nurses that want to leave the hospital and start their own business, right?
And then there are Nurses who want to learn the skills and integrate it into where they are; they have no desire to leave. So, if one of those Nurses see the things about starting their own business, sometimes they’re a little turned off. It’s not in their goals, they don’t want to do that. So first, I make sure that they understand that Nurse Coaching is very fluid.
You can start your own business, if that’s what you want to do, but if you don’t, it’s going to enhance what you’re doing right now, wherever you are, no matter what it is, any Nursing specialty, all Nursing specialties. So that’s the first thing I try to make sure they understand, that it’s not like you have to take this program and go start your private practice if that’s not what your goal is.
You certainly can, but it’s not what everybody does. And I tell them that they need to be ready for a personal and professional transformation in themselves. So if they’re very closed off to the idea, if they’re not willing to come to those meetings, for example, with an open mind, if they want a protocol, a Nurse Coaching protocol, steps one through five, this is what you have to do, it’s probably not the best fit, or they need to, you know, just think about it from a different perspective.
And 9 out of 10 times, they’re like, you know what, that sounds right, I want to think about it from a different perspective. I’m tired of the steps one through nine. And what’s exciting, too, and this is a little bit of a tangent, but it’s part of what we’re saying here, is now that in July, last July, we started a new admissions department.
So now we have about seven admissions counselors, specialists— I’m still going back and forth with the name— that, you know, prospective students, Nurses, can go online and schedule an appointment with them. And they’re all graduates of the program, board-certified.
And, you know, yes, I can answer questions about the program, but it hits differently when you hear it from somebody who is a Nurse, who’s been through it all. So, I think that was an awesome addition we did, and they’re all doing such a great job, that whole team, they’re amazing.
Nicole Vienneau 24:39
Yeah, I love how you incorporated the admissions persons. They’re all experienced, they have all experienced the Nurse Coaching program, they’re board-certified, they see it from the Nursing lens and can tell their story and share their story with other Nurses. I have always said that no one really truly understands a Nurse like another Nurse, right?
Ronald Kanka 25:06
Nicole Vienneau 25:06
Right. We know the ins and outs of each other’s lives, we don’t have to start from square one, we kind of, you know, understand the Nursing role. And you know, it’s just a beautiful thing, to be listened to, also, from Nurses who have taken the program.
So as a prospective Nurse Coach student, to be in company with a graduate of the program, it just is a beautiful link. And it’s just an easy, hopefully an easy transition to just have them sign up for the program. Everybody out there who’s a Nurse listening, sign up for the program.
Ronald Kanka 25:43
Nicole Vienneau 25:44
That’s right. So, in our last few moments together, I’d love to ask you one more question. Well, actually, before I even go there, is there anything you would like to share before we tie things up here?
Ronald Kanka 25:58
Yeah, so in addition to how, you know, how we moved online to reach more Nurses, we really use this Nurse Coaching skill mindset— I still don’t even know really what to call it, right? Because it’s so… it’s just so comprehensive I don’t even know if there’s a word. But with this foundational concept of Nurse Coaching, there are so many different avenues that you can then use that in.
So that’s why we decided in this year… earlier… it was in 2020, we decided to offer specialty programs online. So that’s how they can take these Nurse Coaching foundational concepts that they have, and just kind of specialize them a little more, right?
So whether that’s they want to be a cannabis Nurse Coach, or they want to be a functional medicine Nurse Coach, they want to learn more mindfulness techniques and awareness practices, you know, we have something for that.
End of life— we have something for that, you know, hospice. And we’re adding more all the time. We have some exciting ones in the pipeline coming this year, such as yoga for Nurses coming out, likely one on hypnosis, and some others. I don’t want to, what’s that saying? Give away the applecart? No, that’s not it.
Nicole Vienneau 27:13
Ronald Kanka 27:14
Secret sauce, yeah, right? So yeah, it’s just the goal of the specialty programs is to refine those coaching skills into areas that you’re specific… that the Nurse is specifically interested in. And we’ve gotten some solid feedback on that so far, too.
Nicole Vienneau 27:32
Yes, I love the direction of specializing a little bit more, and you know, niching down exactly what you want to do with these amazing skills that you have learned. And it’s perfectly fine, as you just said, to just use the skills where you’re at. And I call that, you know, bloom where you’re planted, stay where you are, use those skills however you see them showing up in the environment that you’re in. That is a beautiful thing.
Ronald Kanka 28:01
Isn’t that a blog post?
Nicole Vienneau 28:02
I think I did do a blog post on that somewhere along the lines.
Ronald Kanka 28:06
Bloom where you’re planted, right?
Nicole Vienneau 28:08
Bloom where you’re planted. Exactly. Or you could take it and specialize in something and/or open your own business and/or just get out in the community and share these amazing skills that people are not aware of yet. And I have seen this evolution, just as you have, as far as the recognition of this unique set of skills and tools and knowledge and wisdom, intuition of Nurse Coaches coming through.
And it has evolved greatly since I graduated in 2012. And my own self, yes, but the actual realm of Nurse Coaching and how many more Nurse coaches are out there, and what they’re doing and the creativity that they’re bringing into the health space. Knowing that we’re whole beings, knowing that we are coming at— I’m doing the fingers quotations— healthcare, but in a different way. Not just the standard care, you know?
Ronald Kanka 29:13
Fluid. Different. Beautiful.
Nicole Vienneau 29:15
Yes, exactly. Okay, so we could go on a tangent on that one, I’m sure, Ronnie. I could be here all day, you and I chit-chatting about all this Nurse Coaching stuff.
Ronald Kanka 29:26
Nicole Vienneau 29:30
So, before we tie things up today, I have one more question for you. What is on your heart that you’d like to share with Nurses around the globe?
Ronald Kanka 29:43
If any of this sounded appealing to Nurses around the world, I would encourage them to definitely check us out and see if we’re the right fit. I think we are the right fit for all Nurses. That’s maybe my bias. But it’s also… you asked what’s on my heart, and that’s what I truly feel, truly believe. You know, we’re not into car sales tactics or anything like that.
If you decide that it’s not for you, if you look at our site and say, no, I don’t think I’m ready for something like this, this doesn’t seem like my cup of tea, we’re not going to send you, you know, a million emails to try and get you to sign up anyway.
I just do know that the feedback that we received from the Nurses that do go through the program, like I said before, what I hear at graduation really does bring me to tears. I’m working 12 hour days for a reason, you know, I’m really helping to change the lives of all these amazing Nurses, and it’s just very fulfilling, for sure.
It’s definitely nice to have a career that I can feel fulfilled in. It’s not something that I thought I would— you know, I could go on a tangent here, I’ll try to keep it brief— but at first, I thought I was going to be a… when I went to school, I got my bachelor’s in biology with, you know, plans of being pre-med.
And when my dad passed, when I was 21, I just definitely kind of turned off from the whole system of healthcare in general, and realized that this is not… I don’t want to do that anymore. So I was like, oh great, what the hell am I gonna do with a biology degree? But long story short, I’m very happy to have a career that I feel this fulfilled in. It’s amazing.
Nicole Vienneau 31:28
A beautiful blessing. Thank you so much for joining us, Ronnie.
Ronald Kanka 31:34
Thank you for having me, Nicole.