Why We Need More Nurse Coaches
Several years ago, as I walked into the ICU for my fifth night shift in a row, I got a phone call that changed my life. It was a phone call that I’ve had to make so many times before, but had never allowed myself to imagine being on the receiving end.
It was a nurse, calling to tell me that my mom had had a heart attack and was currently having a stent placed in her circumflex coronary artery which was found to be 99% occluded.
I could feel my own heart racing. My face was on fire. I felt an excruciating pain in the back of my throat as I choked back the tears.
This is a situation that no one ever wants to experience. I will never forget how painful and terrifying it was.
However, it also taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my career – healthcare needs to change.
Never before had I been more confident in my understanding of exactly how important Nurse Coaches are, and why we need more of them.
Let me explain.
Through a series of fortune, timing, and circumstances – my mom survived. Ten hours of driving and 700 miles later, I was at my mom’s bedside transitioning between the roles of nurse and daughter.
When she was well enough to go home, she began a medication regimen consisting of an anticoagulant, a high dose statin, a beta blocker, and aspirin. She didn’t previously have high cholesterol or high blood pressure and when she asked for clarification, the doctor explained to her that “this is just what we do after you have a heart attack.”
My mom was desperate for answers, education, and guidance. The lack of information and support she was offered was appalling. But as a nurse, I knew this was often the unfortunate norm.
In retrospect, it’s insane.
She was discharged, without one single clinician discussing her lifestyle factors, or that heart disease can be reversed.
And… off she went.
My heart sunk.
As a nurse, and as a daughter, I was hoping that some good would come of these terrible circumstances. Maybe this would be the push that gets my mom to consider change. Maybe this time she would be provided with the support to do so.
Did they save her life? Absolutely. For that, I am forever grateful.
Yet she was “treated, and streeted.” Procedure and meds without anyone addressing her lifestyle factors.
Per her request, I spent the next week scouring the internet for someone to work with and support her in an on-going way. I contacted nutritionists, dietitians, meal planners, personal trainers, health coaches, counselors, stress management programs, and more.
But after making dozens of phone calls, I felt defeated.
I didn’t want someone who could help her focus on only ONE of these areas. I wanted someone who could help her focus on ALL of these areas.
I wanted someone who could help her to learn how to eat healthier, exercise and move her body more, practice mindfulness and decrease stress, build healthier relationships and connections with herself and others, and process through emotions by exploring them in a safe space.
I wanted someone who works holistically, and was well-trained, highly-educated, and practiced.
Someone trustworthy, compassionate, and caring. Someone to create a plan with her, rather than for her.
I wanted someone who would believe in her, encourage her, challenge her, and hold her accountable.
And then it hit me – there was only one person who could fill this role. I wanted a Nurse Coach.
It was through this experience with my mother that I learned how completely invaluable we are as Nurse Coaches. We are trained and practiced beyond measure.
Once I realized that I wanted to set my mom up with a Nurse Coach, it should have been easy. But it wasn’t. Why? Because across the country, there are less than 500 Board Certified Nurse Coaches, and that’s simply isn’t enough.
As a result, I dedicated my professional life to inviting nurses all across the country to join me on this all-important journey.
And so, in honor and celebration of Nurses Week, I invite YOU to join The Nurse Coach Collective in advancing the health and wellbeing of ourselves, our families, our patients, and our planet.