Ep47: How to Unlearn and Relearn in Nurse Coaching- Pam Melson, MSN, RN, NC

About Pam Melson

Pam Meslon ACTION shotPam Melson, MSN, RN, NC-BC

Pam is Senior Faculty for INCA, as well as nursing faculty for Oklahoma City University.


Her work passion lies in teaching nurse coaching, holistic health, community and mental health. Her life’s passion evolves around family, friends, travel, reading, gardening, cooking and perpetually learning, unlearning and relearning.


The majority of Pam’s research has been on reducing and/or recovering from compassion fatigue and burnout with the use of holistic self-care. If you are ever in Oklahoma, stop by and she will make you one of her famous pamcakes.



How to Unlearn and Relearn in Nurse Coaching- Pam Melson, MSN, RN, NC Highlights

“We’ve learned a lot about how to unlearn and relearn. I think humbly, I thought I was so woke in some ways, but our culture, it ingrains so many things in us, good and bad. And releasing what we thought we knew, and learning it in a different way, is pretty cool.”  Pam Melson, MSN, RN, NC-BC


  • Learn, unlearn and relearn… allows opportunity and possibility to unfold
  • You don’t have to know it all, and it’s ok to change the way you do things at any point in your life
  • Nurse Coaching is a beautiful beginning for healing whatever you want to support or heal
  • All Nursing schools should have a Nurse Coaching component in the curricula
  • Healers are more resilient when they acknowledge this ability within themselves
  • Be patient, be still, allow alignment, as it always seems to align
  • We are all just walking each other home
  • Nurse Coaching is a means to find the home that is inside you
  • The art and science of Nursing, plus the magic of Nurse Coaching
  • Nurse Coaches listens to what the patient wants.  We don’t make their goals happen, we walk beside the client to support them in all their desires

Resources and Links

Integrative Nurse Coach Academy Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program

The Guest House a poem by Rumi

The Advice Trap by Michael Bumbay

Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring

Harmony Hill Retreat Center

Email Pam at pmelson@inursecoach.com

Book a free call with an INCA Admissions here

Ep47: How to Unlearn and Relearn in Nurse Coaching- Pam Melson, MSN, RN, NC Transcript

Nicole Vienneau  00:00

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. Today, I’m excited because we have Pam Melson, all the way from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

She is a Nursing professor. And she’s also senior faculty with the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy. And it is long overdue that we have Pam on our podcast, also known as Nana, also known as Pamcakes. Welcome, Pam, to the show.

Pam Melson  00:40


Nicole Vienneau  00:45

So glad to have you here, Pam.

Pam Melson  00:47

Thank you. Thank you. It’s good to be here. Good morning. Good morning to be alive.

Nicole Vienneau  00:51

It is. It is. Well, we love to go back in history with all of our guests and ask the question, what brought you into Nursing?

Pam Melson  01:03

Wow, you know, that is a long journey. Now, I was older, I had three kids. I was kind of a healer around my community. I was into herbal healing and natural foods, and I was a lay midwife. And so I really didn’t know if I could do allopathic medicine. But I knew that I needed to do something beyond what I was doing to better support myself and my kids and find something that called me that was meaningful.

And I started reading more about Florence Nightingale. And I realized she was the first holistic Nurse. And you know, I was a radical little hippie girl and just didn’t know if I could do it. It was my first opportunity to step across the aisle and be open to all kinds of healing, because I was so set on non-allopathic.

So that’s what started my journey, was reading about Florence. And then I began Nursing school with three children. And I finished when I was 35 years old.

Nicole Vienneau  02:00

I’m imagining you as a hippie girl.

Pam Melson  02:05

I was quite the hippie girl. I lived out kind of on a commune area, had my daughter, my second child. Had my last two kids at home. My first one at the hospital, went home two hours later, lived way off on a dirt road. And yeah, that’s, you know, free mama, free kids. And it was good. It was good at the time. So yeah, I learned a lot.

Nicole Vienneau  02:29

I bet you learned a lot. And that’s where you found your roots of holistic medicine. And then moving into Nursing, which is very, you know, kind of more in the box, so to speak, in Nursing school. So how was that transition for you?

Pam Melson  02:48

Well, it was interesting, oddly enough, because, you know, I had been a lay midwife. When I got into Nursing, I found that I really tuned up too much cognitive dissonance for me to be an OB Nurse, that wasn’t my thing.

I was a tech all through school and started in the ER, and that really, I had enough trauma drama going on, because I had teenagers by then. Great teenagers, but still, it wasn’t what called me, and what I felt calling me was hospice.

And so for many years, along with doing psych Nursing, you know, I was a midwife for the dying. And so that served me well, I got to do a lot of psych on the side, kids psych, but places kept closing because I did drug and alcohol rehab as a Nurse.

And then I was offered a job because I was going back to work on my masters as a diabetes Nurse, which is funny because at Nursing school I thought that seems like the most boring job in the entire hospital.

But it’s funny where we end up, you know, teaching Nursing now and watching students, they always want to do OB or ER or ICU, which is great. And, you know, I just told them to be open to all things because what I loved about diabetes education was I had so much freedom to teach wellness.

And that’s, I think, what opened me towards Nurse Coaching was I learned so much about motivational interviewing and how to listen to what a patient wants, a client wants— way different. And so it really was taking me back. I didn’t realize the journey.

You think you get far off of your journey, and it was leading me back home. And then I ended up finishing my master’s in teaching. I left a job that I loved for a job that I love. And that’s when Nurse Coaching started to come about.

Nicole Vienneau  04:33

I’m always fascinated with the journeys that Nurses can travel. Yes, and there’s so many opportunities and I love how you just said: I left a job I loved for another job I love.

Pam Melson  04:48

Yeah, I did. It was, you know, I think trusting… we have to take steps. But I have… now I forget sometimes to trust the universe but overall I know that, you know, I will pray for something for the higher good, and trust, that one of the things that I’ve done every year for about the last 20 years is I’ve done a vision board, or I do vision journals.

And it has been fascinating to me to look at my vision journals, my boards. And I always pray before I do them, do a meditation. I will draw words for my intention for that year. A little bit different process when I do the journaling.

But it’s been interesting to me that, you know, I love instant gratification. Years ago, in my journey, I waited tables and bartended, and so you did it, you made money, and that was that.

And you know, in prayer sometimes, or looking for intentions, I often want it now or yesterday. But I am learning, and Nurse Coaching has certainly helped this, and I think age and experience, and willingness, and I’m learning to be patient and to see where life unfolds, you know, in ways that we… places that we never thought that we would be. And then figuring out what to do with that. The whole process. Good and bad.

Nicole Vienneau  06:08

Beautiful. Now, you mentioned you discovered Nurse Coaching, and so we’d love to know a little bit more about that story.

Pam Melson  06:19

It was a long journey. Actually, when I was working on my master’s 12 years ago, my mom lived in Santa Fe. And of course, it was actually the theorist that I was using was Barbara Dossey. And I looked her up and done a lot of research on her.

I already knew about Larry, her husband, and the research he’d done on prayer and surgery. And I thought, well, I’m just gonna reach out. I was going to be in Santa Fe to visit my mom. And I was like, I’m fascinated by your work, I’d love to know more about your theory.

I didn’t know a lot about Nurse Coaching then. And she said, meet me for a glass of wine. I, oh my gosh, like, this is amazing. And so I met her and she shared her theory. And of course, she asked a lot about me, she just was gracious and lovely as always, and talked about coming home and tried to encourage me then to do it.

And it wasn’t the right time. I actually had a physical experience of breast cancer right after that time, and had a lot of spiritual healing and finished my master’s. And then I changed jobs. And then my work— I was begging forever to do a holistic Nursing class.

And they were looking at different certificates and things and they said, hey, we want to pay for you to do some kind of holistic healing class, maybe in Arizona and maybe with Dr. Weil. And I said, what about with Dr. Dossey?

And so that’s how my Nurse Coaching came about. And I really believe it’s divine timing. You know, in Nurse Coaching, we talk a lot about the art and science, which is so important. You know, I think evidence based, it’s not just woo-woo, but oh my gosh, that magic, that magical healing that occurred for me, it was divine timing.

I was reading that… I’m a writer, not as much lately, but I’ve written a lot of poetry and short stories. And I was writing about their process of going through.

You know, and when we did it face-to-face, we did two different times, and just Washington itself, Harmony Hill is so healing. But I had literally lost my best friend in the midst of Nurse Coaching. She did not… so she got cancer, and she did not survive cancer.

And I was her coach during that, her health proxy, and I was going through a lot. We’d been friends for almost 40 years. And so a couple of things happened. One was I met Holly, she was my roommate, who’s also a co-faculty and a good friend of yours.

And we ended up going through so many of the same things. That was amazing. And then I was writing about that wonderful big tree, you know, with a maze and healing.

And it truly was magical, what I was able to not just gain there as a Nurse Coach, about what I got to leave there. You know, and it was with a lot of other people that they had left things and it just was more of a gift. It was probably one of my most magical times in my life. And that was my Nurse Coaching experience. And it’s gone on from there. It has been quite the journey.

You know, I knew I wanted to teach Nurse Coaching, and I started training, Nicole, with you face-to-face, and then COVID happened. I truly didn’t… I couldn’t imagine how it would be okay, doing it online on a computer. Because first of all, I couldn’t imagine how it could happen in Florida at a hotel after I’d been to Harmony Hill.

And when we got to train there and seeing that lovely group of humans and how they transformed and left so much of their worries and sadness and burnout behind and, you know, seeing them evolve. And then try and teach it online and now watching women— and we’re having more men— and especially, you know, during COVID, and post COVID.

And still getting to walk along beside men and women on their journey, it’s been the most humbling thing in my life. And probably one of the most rewarding things as well. So that’s been my journey so far, along with getting… I have not set up a business, because I’m a Nana, and I’m a mom, and I’m a partner, but I also teach full-time and spend a lot of time with our faculty and our students doing coaching. So, that’s been my journey.

Nicole Vienneau  10:38

Thank you for sharing how much Nurse Coaching started the healing and continued the healing. It’s a beautiful, a beautiful story. I’m thinking back to when you first discovered Nurse Coaching, through Barbara Dossey, and how much courage it took to reach out to her.

You know, we think that sometimes they’re a Nurse theorist, or they’re… you know, there’s this invisible hierarchy that we place on different people in life. And yet here, you said, ah, I’m just going to reach out to her and see what happens.

Pam Melson  11:16

Yes, that was one of the gifts my friend Joan, that passed— It’s kind of funny, I have two best friends. They’re both theorists. One is no longer living. They’re both Joans, and Joan was an art therapist, and she was kind of a big deal. And she taught me to be brave enough really to go back to school.

Little hippie girl, crazy time growing up, and I was thinking, I just don’t know if I can do this. And she was like, of course you can do it. But when I was working on my theory, she was like, you know, if you want to know things, reach out to people.

You know, the worst that’s gonna happen is somebody’s gonna say no. My grandma used to say, you know, we all put our pants on pretty much same way, one leg at a time. Probably some people are very creative. And I think that’s when we trust the universe.

I am a grateful member of Al-Anon. I grew up in alcoholism, and something that sometimes we tend to do is put ourselves below or above, which isn’t healthy. You know, comparing, it’s a thief of joy, really, when we compare. But I think if we look and go, we all have our assets, and we all have our beauties, and if somebody says no, then that door closes, then another one, it will eventually open.

And you know, sometimes it can be hell, standing in that hallway waiting, but then incredibly rewarding. And even those times— I’m a little weary, sometimes, of the positive psychology right now, because I think we need it all. You know, Rumi says, on The Guest House, that we welcome all those things good and bad. And some of the bad things have been my greatest teacher.

And I truly am grateful for that, because the times when I thought I wanted something, and been pretty stubborn about it, it didn’t happen, and something better did. Yeah, just that whole learned thing.

And, you know, watching Barbie now and things that she’s gone through and, you know, continuing with grace. How do we do that? And I think often, you know, the whole Nurse Coaching thing and watching it grow.

And that’s been the beauty, I think, of the online is that it used to be mostly older people, and some younger folks, but you know, retiring. And now we’re able to reach out— and I think younger Nurses, I truly… I teach a holistic Nursing class at OCU— it’s called Becoming a Healing Presence, and it’s called Wellness Coaching because I have people who take it who aren’t Nurses.

But I truly believe that if we could start our Nurses off with that gift of Nurse Coaching, the whole process of that, I really believe there’d be way less burnout. You know, right now we see Nurses leaving in their first or second years because they’re not being taught a way for it to be healthy for them. And I’m proud of them if they can’t do that. But Nursing is such a lovely profession, there’s so many things we can do.

But what I learned in my research— I did my whole thing… my master’s project was on how holistic Nursing decreases the risk of compassion fatigue and burnout. And holistic Nursing techniques can if you use them, but I learned that faculty, we are the ones who begin to teach our students to burn out because we forget to care for ourselves. And they are expected to do pretty powerful things.

They do have people’s lives in their hands, but they’re not taught to care for their lives first. And that’s what I hope to do. You know, there’s a lot of healing that occurs and we set up a platform, you know, that we teach Nurse Coaching, and they come and they do it. And that’s what I try to do, the class that I’m teaching at the university.

Here’s the platform, and they do a whole self-care plan on themselves. And they do a vision board on healing. And begin to learn more about your own self before you’re worried about taking care of other people, and not in a selfish way. I think sometimes that word self-care has been abused, just like the word resilience in some ways, but if we look at what it truly is getting to the heart of the matter, it’s vital.

We need the opportunity to do that, to stop. And you know, when I had done my whole research, and then when I lost my friend, I fell into burnout, compassion fatigue, and I didn’t even recognize it. It’s really wily. At work, I decided I was not going to work on my PhD. There were other things I wanted to do. And so I was saying yes to everything.

And I found myself not stopping to breathe and being totally exhausted. And when it hit me, it hit me hard. And I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay teaching. But I found a way to get through healing to do that. And I had to say no to a lot of things. And I went through a whole life change in that. That’s a whole other story for another day. But I did recover, and so I know it can happen.

So how do we allow ourselves to do that now, you know, post COVID crazy Nursing? Our healthcare system sometimes… sometimes I struggle now with cognitive dissonance, bringing Nurses into the healthcare world, because it’s tough right now. I think it’s tougher than ever. So I don’t have all the answers. But I certainly want to learn and walk beside them and figure out what that might look like.

Nicole Vienneau  13:59

You have a famous quote that you often say.

Pam Melson  16:11

I do. That we’re all just walking each other home. We are all just walking each other home.

Nicole Vienneau  16:18

Yes. Every time you say it, it touches a spot in my heart. And it slows me down. Because we are truly just two people on life’s journey. Sometimes we might be a group. But we’re all walking each other home, and the care that it takes to do that.

Pam Melson  16:44

Maybe slowing down just a little bit. You know, my grandma was six feet tall— one of them— and when I’d walk with her, she’d grab my hand and I’d almost fly. So I’m a fast walker. I’m a fast talker. And so remembering to slow down and pause. And I love visualization, you know, I started learning that. I was an anxious kid, I would almost hyperventilate, I actually did a couple times.

And so I learned— part of being a wild hippie girl was I had a kid pretty young— and I took a prepare childbirth class and learned about visualization. And I’ve used it since then. And I taught to our classes, I teach visualization.

And when I talk about that we’re all just walking one another home, one of the visuals that I saw when I was looking at to put it on one of my websites for school was: it’s a small girl, and it’s an elephant, and it’s the back of him.

And, you know, we just always think of elephants, they kind of amble. And it’s a tiny child. So I think we can look at that tiny child and, you know, elephants have wisdom of just slowing down to walk at one another’s pace and see what that looks like.

And that’s for me, you know, hearing about so many things, from Black Lives Matter to what’s happened with women, you know, the whole #MeToo, so many things have happened that have brought us closer together and polarized.

But we’ve learned a lot about unlearning and relearning. I think humbly, I thought I was so woke in some ways, but our culture, it ingrains so many things in us, good and bad. And releasing what we thought that we knew, and learning it in a different way, is pretty cool.

But it’s startling sometimes, thinking, wow, I thought I knew that truth. And it’s a universal truth. And it’s not. It’s my universal truth. It’s like, damn, it’s not everybody’s. Wow.

Nicole Vienneau  18:39


Pam Melson  18:40

It is humbling.

Nicole Vienneau  18:42

So this learning, unlearning, relearning. This concept. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? What that means to you?

Pam Melson  18:56

Well, if we start off… we’ll start off with a Nurse Coaching thing to begin with. If you are teaching Nurse Coaches, one of the first things that we ask them on a discussion is, let’s look at the Nurse Coaching process versus, you know, if you’re doing a Nursing assessment, you know, head to toe. And we look at that, and as Nurses we are taught, it’s ingrained in us, how to do a head to toe.

Remember how scary it was to learn to do a blood pressure, give an injection. We’ve learned to do this, this and this and then we just spit it out. And it’s so funny because we do this and you know, we teach, we do it in the beginning, a process, and some people will say, that’s really not that different, it’s just a different way.

Because if you look at the Nurse Coaching steps, you know, one of the first things that we do is pause. And we listen with heart, and it’s all client led. And we were not taught to be that way.

And Nurses are wounded healers, truly. Good Nurses. One of the research things I learned is if we call ourselves healers, then we actually are a little bit more resilient or more adaptable. But we have learned that we’re in a hurry.

I mean, you know that as an ICU Nurse, you did things and you knocked it out and you moved on. And in the Nurse Coaching process, you have to unlearn some beautiful things that you were taught, possibly lifesaving.

And so in doing that, it’s so fun. And humbling, though, you know, because you’re with Nurses for six months, and letting go of, and seeing their highs and their lows, and babies are born and babies are lost.

And that poem that we do, you know, of people die, they change, but through that, you do unlearn, and then you learn, and then you relearn on a deeper level. I think from when I first learned Nurse Coaching to now, you know, every time you teach a class, when I teach at school, I teach community health, every time I teach it, it’s on a different level, that’s Nurse Coaching.

And then on a personal level, I’ve gone through a lot of changes. I got divorced after 30 years. I moved to a new town after 40 years. I’m now in a relationship. Dating at 63 is weird. It’s, you know, you almost go back to being a teenager and maybe unlearn some bad habits, and relearn. When your children are small, and then they grow up and they get married, they have their own children, and they parent in a different way now.

I thought I was a very woke parent, but oh my gosh, I’ve learned so much from my children and my grandchildren. You know, and I think that, if we don’t do that, we’re going to perish, if we’re not willing. And sometimes it is hard to let go of what we’ve known, even if it’s not healthy. It sometimes feels… it feels easier until we release, and then we freefall, and then we gain our wings. And it is truly amazing.

Nicole Vienneau  21:57

I always enjoyed, and I can connect to exactly what you just said about so many things happen, and then you have to… almost like you’re never starting over again. Right? You’re never starting over again. Because you have the information, you’ve had that learning.

And yes, sometimes you have to unlearn that, because maybe it’s not a true solid foundation for your beliefs or for your values. And then you relearn, or you learn, yeah, and almost relearn. Oh, it’s such an interesting way. But it is so valuable to be open to that.

Pam Melson  22:40

It is. And sometimes it is scary. And you know, I think sometimes we have to wait. Maybe we don’t know that it’s time to learn that. But yeah, it is fascinating. My daughter-in-law asked me, about a year or two ago, she’s maybe 40, early 40s, she was like, God, I just get so tired of having to learn things. Does this stop ever?

And I said, no, it doesn’t. Because it is sometimes, you know, you’re so set, you’ll get that onion effect. And it’s like, I gotta peel this off again. And you know, you either laugh about it, cry, sometimes both. Yeah, it’s just… teach it all to me.

When I tell my young students— I think Nurse Coaching students are more comfortable with saying I’m going to learn as much from you as you’re gonna learn from me. But my young students, you know, who are 20… 21, it’s like, what do you want to teach me?

You know, I know that you have things. And that’s the beauty of Nurse Coaching, of what we get to do, is that whole thing where Barbie says welcome home. You know, what was in our heart. My favorite movie in the whole world, it always has been— used to be I’d watch it once a year— it was The Wizard of Oz.

And you know, different people have looked at it, they’ve taught whole classes on it, written books on, you know, the whole deal of you could always go back home, you always have that power. And where did we lose it?

If you watch little babies, you see they look in the corner of a room. I know they see their angels. You know, as my mom got older, even before she was dying, sometimes she saw angels because she was open to it.

And when we think about going back home, that we always had that power, but some of us never regain that. We don’t know that. And I just… that’s another thing about Nurse Coaching, it was always there. You just had to tap your shoes together. It wasn’t that easy, though, you know, you watch Dorothy and she went through a journey, she had those scary monkeys.

And so that’s why I talk about… I do love positive psychology, but some of it… allowing people that space to feel it all, and know that sometimes those monkeys are going to be there. You know, and I can’t remember who said “you can’t change the way it is, but you can learn to surf.”

I have all kinds of sayings. And it’s like, wow, you know, and I think that we can do it, more often, in an easier way as a group, but sometimes we have to walk that journey alone and figure out what it means to us, not anybody else. But what are we being taught to unlearn, to learn, to relearn?

Nicole Vienneau  25:01

One thing I always love about you, Pam, is that it’s a reminder that we are full of different emotions, not just the good, and celebrate those, yes, but we also have times where we don’t feel our best. And it’s okay to be in that space.

It’s okay to be with that, and honor that, as well as all the good times. Because when we truly connect to all of our facets, all of our ways, then we become whole. So I really appreciate that about you, about reminding us that we are more than just one thing.

Pam Melson  25:45

We are. You know, all during COVID, I had that sign on my door that said, “In the midst of winter, I knew there lay an invincible summer.” And I went out the other day— we’d had a couple of weeks of really cold, icky weather— and I was tired of it, and I went out and it was a sunny day, and probably not a great thing, because one of my daffodils had bloomed, and it’s a little bit early in Oklahoma for that to happen.

You know, but as an older person— I always hated, my aunt would say, “I remember when your dad was that age,” and it was like, she sounded old and crazy. And sometimes I laugh about it now, because I think I do. Because I think, you know, when you’re younger things feel so permanent when you’re going through things.

But we can remember that there is that invincible summer, and if we allow it and do the steps that we need to— and sometimes it’s work— it’s there again. And that’s when it’s fun to know that just that belly laugh, you know, in some way or another, it’s going to be back. Don’t forget, it’s going to be back. It’s a journey, you know, and I think I’m just gonna keep… I’m gonna keep on that journey and think what the heck is next?

Nicole Vienneau  26:49

Yes, let’s all be on that journey: what the heck is next?

Pam Melson  26:56

And I’m really a big cusser. So I’ve been really careful about my language. I will say one of my grandmas was like 4’10” and she never said a cuss word in her life. And, you know, I mean, she could cook and throw the cat out the back door and do everything all at once.

But my other grandma was six feet tall and red hair, and she taught me language. And so I’ve kind of tried to, once again, yin and yang, that balance. So, better about my language on this podcast conversation.

Nicole Vienneau  27:22

Oh, if one slips out, we’ll be happy for it. So, I’d love to talk a little bit more about this. In Nurse Coaching, we talk about people’s stories, and being available to listen to it. Listen to those stories, right? And we do work in groups. We do work in peer coaching. We do work by ourselves. There’s so much of this unlearning, learning, relearning, all of that.

And you also spoke so much about personal healing through the journey of Nurse Coaching. And so as we are all evolving through our lives, different stages of lives, how do we— in your thoughts— how do we connect with each other on a level where we can begin to heal together?

Pam Melson  28:31

I think that is a wonderful question. I think that is the question in the universe right now. How do we do that? You know, I’ve always taught— I’ve taught community health for the last 12 years— and I always taught about the epidemic in the early 1900s, before this ever started. And really, we found that it took about 10 years after for the world to kind of feel a better equilibrium.

And so I think Nurse Coaching— there couldn’t be a better time for it to be happening right now. You know, when you and I paused, we talked about how we’re comfortable with that. The other day, I was waiting for students to sign up, I was with them, and my partner was in the other room, he could hear I wanted somebody to sign up to do an awareness practice next time, and he said, “You paused for a very long time.”

And as I paused, I prayed for them to have courage in their hearts to know they could do that. And I think in Nurse Coaching, and I think in the world right now, to be able to sit and listen. And if you think about as Nurses, my least favorite word in Nursing is non-compliance, although we still teach it all the time, we hear that. And I think that that’s how we feel, if people don’t think like us they’re non-compliant.

Well in Nurse Coaching, and when we’re client led, and what I try to remember to teach Nurses as they’re learning to be a Nurse Coach, your job is not to get them to their goals. Our jobs are to walk beside people and to listen. And there’s a guy named Michael Bungay, he’s not a Nurse Coach, but he’s a life coach.

He talks about, in his book, that sometimes when you hear people talk about what their original goals are, they change. Because we’ll ask people… the great example I give is, so many people want to lose weight, and they want to exercise more. And then if we begin to listen to their story, we hear that maybe they’re going through grief or a whole lot of stress. And so they’re stress eating.

Do they need mindful eating? Do they need to work on stress? Do they need to know that it’s okay to grieve? You know, when you worked in ICU, and oh my gosh, I heard there’s so much in COVID, Nicole, that students, Nurses would witness somebody dying, and then they’d have to go right next to that new patient, and not have any time to process.

And so I think in our unlearning and relearning, we need to learn that it’s okay to ask for things. I think a lot of women especially— I’m not a man, I can’t speak for that —but we thought we’ve had healthy boundaries.

And we’ve built up some angry walls. But how do we let those walls down to say, I love you, but I can’t do that anymore? So I think that’s the process of that. I hope that’s answering your question, kind of in a roundabout way.

Nicole Vienneau  31:20

I love how you answer questions.

Pam Melson  31:23

They are really long—  to make a short story really long.

Nicole Vienneau  31:27

But this is the beauty of Nurse Coaching, as well, to have… to ask a question, and not have any idea where the question will lead. And not trying to force the outcome of a question. Because there’s no way that I could know what’s in your mind and your heart. And it’s such a different way of practicing Nursing— what we were taught in first initial Nursing school.

And so I’m thinking about at the beginning, when you said, oh, if only all Nurses could have Nurse Coaching in the curriculum at the beginning of their stages, and how much that would benefit them as far as preventing burnout, mitigating burnout, connecting to themselves on a deep level so that they can then connect with patients on that level as well.

Pam Melson  32:22

Yes, I think that empowering themselves and their patients is like, we can do that, you know, it doesn’t… once again, you know, I talked about that ladder, it doesn’t have to be here. And here, it’s like we can be here, you know, and learn from… you know, that’s one of the things with community health, I’ve taken students to some of the poorest counties in Oklahoma, but I’ve also taken them to Mexico and Belize.

And they saw a whole different way of medical care. And it wasn’t bad or good, it was different. And it was different truths. And so I think that if we can learn, once again, all of that, and bring it in, and then figure out that there are always going to be different truths.

That we have our professionalism, and maybe what we know more, but until we figure out that everybody comes from a different walk of life, even if they live next door to us, that we’re missing out if we can’t listen.

And it’s hard. How do you do that in a few seconds? How do you teach Nurses to do that when they are on the fly? You know, I love that… the whole Watson theory where they have the hospitals where they have the lotus on the door, and they just stop for a second, take a breath. It’s kind of like rebooting.

So how can we incorporate that to go, okay, you may not have a lot of time, but stop and breathe, and just look at that person. And that’s how I think that we can do that in all walks of life right now, to say, I honor you. And it’s hard. You know, when you think about praying for somebody, and being there with that person. I had a student who went to Belize with me, we couldn’t be more different.

He was a Marine, hardcore, political beliefs totally different, and we got to talk in the middle of the jungle when we were taking care of kids, and sit and talk about our different beliefs and eat together. And he really explained to me where he was at.

And I think it was one of my biggest aha moments in my life, and his too, of being able to sit across a table and really hear that person and maybe not agree, but understand that, you know, we all have beating hearts.

I remember I heard a pastor say during the Persian Gulf War, that we all have the same kind of blood that runs through our veins, but it’s different, and honoring that. And I just think Nurse Coaching gives me a different layer every time I get to teach it, every time I get to practice it.

And you know, we’ve said don’t practice it on your kids or family or people you love the most because then I fall right back into my— you’ll understand this— my Al-Anon bossy-ness of… my friend Joan that passed away, one of the things we would say to each other all the time, joking, is “you’re not the boss of me.” And I found a lot of ways she was my boss, but I’m going to do a whole lot better if I can set down that, you know, bossy Oklahoma cowgirl, and click back into my Zen listening ear.

Nicole Vienneau  35:08

I love it. So, in our last few moments together, I would love to ask one more question. And then I have a surprise.

Pam Melson  35:19


Nicole Vienneau  35:19

But first, the question is, what is on your heart that you would like to share with Nurses?

Pam Melson  35:29

Oh my gosh, I think I’ve shared so much of it already, really, just in the talk that we have. On my heart would be to follow your heart. You know, I showed you earlier, I have this courage thing.

And I think that have the courage to be who you are as a Nurse and to set really healthy boundaries to love yourself, and explore that whole, you know, I’m full of sayings, but that whole be curious, not judgmental. And, you know, do that for yourself and know that it’s okay to care for yourself. Be brave, reach out.

Nicole Vienneau  36:00

Yes. And just so our listeners know, Pam has this beautiful orange, red heart, that’s a stone, and it has carved into it the word courage. It’s beautiful. Okay, so here’s your surprise. We are now in season three. And I would love to ask you some questions that are going to be quick, and you’re just going to come off the fly with whatever is on your mind and heart.

Pam Melson  36:39

This could be scary for you. I might be good at it.

Nicole Vienneau  36:43

I love that! Okay, here we go. What is your favorite color?

Pam Melson  36:49

My favorite color is turquoise. If you looked around my house, oh my goodness, it’s almost overkill. I love the color turquoise.

Nicole Vienneau  36:56


Pam Melson  36:57

It reminds me of Santa Fe, where my mom was, and it just, I don’t know, it’s just healing. I love the water. I just think it’s the color. You know, I think I was a mermaid my last life. And so I think about that turquoise colored water and think about Santa Fe. It takes you there.

Nicole Vienneau  37:14

What is your favorite Nurse Coaching tool?


Pam Melson  37:19

Pausing. The power of pause has kept me out of so much trouble. And when I’ve forgotten, I’ve had to learn and unlearn and relearn really fast. The power of pause. And just letting people come to things. It’s brilliant. Yes.

Nicole Vienneau  37:37

How would you describe Integrative Nurse Coaches in 20 words or less?

Pam Melson  37:43

Wow. I need a word counter. They’re badass individuals who have been brave enough to jump off and love themselves as much as they love their patients.

Nicole Vienneau  38:01

No, I think that was perfect. Okay, so the name of our podcast is Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! Okay, so action is an acronym. It stands for (A) Authentic, (C) Curious, (T) Truthful, (I) Inspire, (O) Open, (N) Nurture. What does ‘living in ACTION!’ mean to you?

Pam Melson  38:33

You know, I got stuck on that last word, because you said nurture. And I’ve heard that so much this year. And it was another friend of mine’s word. And action means to me to know when to keep moving, to know when to be still, and to know when to nurture yourself or others in your greatest way of being.

Nicole Vienneau  38:55

Beautiful. And the final question is, why should Nurses consider taking the Integrative Nurse Coach certificate program?

Pam Melson  39:06

Well, my question for you to begin with is why should they not? You know, I think once again, I think that if we want to build up some way of nurturing ourselves and moving on and you know, I don’t know a Nurse who’s not a lifelong learner.

And I think that we have to discover… you know, we talk about doing all these things where it’s evidence based, or best practice, and right now when we see Nurses leaving left and right, more than ever before, what if you learned a tool to give the best assessment ever?

Or to give the best injection? Or to learn how to heal? And I honestly feel like, you know, I’ve taught now for quite a while, and seen Nurses, that this is the best thing that I have seen to build up, not an artificial resilience, because that word’s been overused, like in hospitals to get people to work more. But maybe, you know, when I go into your room, and I say— if I’m feeling nervous about it— I’ll say a prayer to be able to emit love, but set up kind of this plexiglass shield.

That’s healthy. And I think that’s what’s Nurse Coaching, the opportunity to do that. You are taught by teachers, you are given so much opportunity to learn in a different way, that’s going to help you to be better with your client and with yourself.

Not just now, but for the rest of your Nursing career. And it’s an opportunity to pass that on to others in such a healing light, that I don’t know of any other thing that does that. I truly don’t.

Nicole Vienneau  40:34

Thank you so much, Pam, for being a guest on Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! podcast. You have shared so many nuggets of wisdom to take away. Our listeners love and honor you. Thank you.

Pam Melson  40:52

Thank you!

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