Nurse Coach Journey Reflection

AAGAs I reflect on my journey to become a nurse coach, I can see it has encompassed many years of personal and professional development. I have had a long time interest in the healing arts that I initially explored through the built environment as an interior designer. As a designer, I learned the concept of craft and the spirit of place. I became interested in ritual and how the spaces that we inhabit can celebrate the rituals of our life. Our experience of the built environment is vital to our health and wellbeing. While I gained valuable experience working for commercial design firms, it was through design of residential kitchens and baths that I felt provided an opportunity to create experiential spaces that supported the values of intimacy and wellbeing.

I eventually came to realize that the high stress nature of the design profession was taking more from my life than it was giving back. As a result of my personal struggle with health issues and experiencing my brother’s terminal illness, I made the decision to become a nurse. This did not happen overnight. It was a transition that occurred over several years. Through that time I shifted the organizational and planning skills I gained as a designer to now build the blueprint for my life, with health and wellness being the priority.

As a nurse, I worked on a medical telemetry floor in the hospital. I cared for patients with a wide-variety of chronic illness and gained a new appreciation for the “health” “care” system. I enjoyed the patient contact, however, I wanted to be more proactive in health and prevention. It also became evident that my personal self-care was essential for my care for others. Yoga training helped to manage stress and develop concepts of self-care. I also saw that while the care that the hospital provides is valuable in acute instances, there was a need to provide care and support before the illnesses became chronic. Support also needed to be provided to patients beyond the hospital to extend their time between admissions. The concept of health coaching and the Duke Integrative Medicine Integrative Health Coach program appeared to be a step to address these issues and provide that support.

The experience at Duke was valuable both personally and professionally. It was a way for me to integrate my interest in self-development, mind-body connection, creative process, and knowledge as a nurse. It provided a process similar to the creative design process, but instead of building a space, this process explored vision and created a plan to build a life. Through the Duke program we spent many hours on the concepts of vision and values. I appreciated this focus of the program because of my training as a designer, but also because it is often the concepts that get glossed over by our current culture. To provide the space to allow an individual to think beyond their daily tasks, and explore a broader vision for their life can be revealing. Health coaching provides a structure for a lifestyle shift that is inline with values and occurs over time. The role of the coach then becomes essential to hold these values for the client as they create a plan and move through the change process.

So now, the spaces I create are those of which allow an individual to explore and experience those visions and values that they desire for their life. It is through this safe, supportive space that trust is established and these core desires are revealed. My craft has now become these core-coaching competencies. Listening is a skill that is a natural strength for me; health coaching now provides a structure to apply it. Curiosity and powerful questions direct the process of exploration. Creating awareness and connection to the body develops mindfulness. Finally, creating a specific plan, then supporting the client to step into the vision they created by building on their successes. Contrary to a culture immersed with instant gratification, coaching is a process that evolves over time. As a coach, my role is to provide support through this process.


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