Orientation to Nurse Coaching: Benefits of Nurse Coaching

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    This article is part of a series on coaching in general and nurse-coaching in particular. The first two articles in the multi-part series are presented as an orientation to coaching. Future articles in the series will provide more detail about choosing the right coach, becoming a certified nurse coach, integrating coaching skills with your patients, and more.

    Orientation to Nurse Coaching: Benefits of Nurse Coaching

    Some of my most rewarding moments as a coach and a nurse practitioner in family practice have occurred when my patients have gotten measurable results from their lifestyle changes. For example, the ear-to-ear smile of pride on a middle-aged gentleman’s face after he lost 30 pounds and saw his cholesterol numbers in the normal range for the first time in 8 years, was unforgettably priceless to me.

    I believe the single most important success factor in this case, and numerous others like it, is coaching. Why? Because coaching shifts the responsibility for change onto the individual in a supportive, nurturing, way. In short, people who are coached are able to own the changes they make to improve their health and their lives.

    What changes to do you want to make in your life? I firmly believe that coaching can improve every aspect of life for nurses, not just for our patients, but for ourselves. Whether you are the one receiving the coaching or the one doing the coaching, you can experience the power and benefits of change. This article explores five ways in which coaching can benefit you as a person, as a nurse, and as a leader, in healthcare.

    1. Coaching can help you enhance your personal self-care practices.

    Many, if not most, nurses freely admit they could use an upgrade when it comes to self-care. There’s just something about our devotion to helping others that makes it extraordinarily difficult to help ourselves.

    Many “coaching skills” are actually practical life skills that support and promote integrative approaches to self-awareness and accountability for action. Fortunately, that makes both giving and receiving coaching an act of self-care. Working with a coach to explore techniques such as deep breathing, progressive relaxation, meditation, visualization, and more, can help you discover which processes work best for you, which are most likely to fit into and support your existing or desired lifestyle, then holds you accountable to integrating your preferred techniques into a doable, regular, personalized, self-care practice.

    2. Coaching can help you improve your interpersonal relationships at home and at work.

    How we relate to ourselves directly affects how we relate to others, which directly affects … you guessed it, our overall happiness. Coaching helps us improve our interpersonal interactions by providing tools and techniques for helping us deal more effectively with the difficult people in our lives.

    While many of the tools deployed by coaches for avoiding arguments and resolving conflict may seem familiar, these skills become highly refined and enhanced within a coaching context. For example, when the familiar skill of active listening is taken to a deeper level through coaching, we realize how listening skills form the foundation of true, authentic connections with others. Those authentic connections, in turn, allow for deep trust to be established. The best part, according to cutting edge neuroscience, is that trust keeps oxytocin elevated in a way that allows us to think clearly during interactions with difficult people instead of reacting instinctively from fear whenever strong emotions are involved.

    3. Coaching can boost your career.

    We all know it takes more than a masterful resume to land a job in today’s market. Career coaches can help individual nurses develop job-specific strategies and build skills for presenting themselves confidently and professionally. For nurses who are satisfied in their current career/work role, the coaching process can provide an effective vehicle for transferring learning from continuing education courses into practice. And for nurse managers who may be new to an advancing leadership role, executive coaching can help ease the transition.

    According to a 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review, the most important leadership attributes are those that ultimately allow the leader to create a safe environment. Nurse leaders, then, must build trust within their teams, which may be a challenge if the organization does not already have a culture of trust. Fortunately, building trust is something most executive coaches are trained to empower new nurse leaders to do.

    4. Coaching can help you improve the quality of care you provide to your patients.

    Most of us became nurses because we are hardwired for helping. As much as we’d like to do so at times, we cannot force our help, or lasting change, down our patients’ throats. Coaching allows nurses to support their patients through their patients’ own self-aware and self-directed efforts to change. And, as my previous example demonstrates, the benefits of coaching extend to both the patient (think: measurable health improvements) and to the nurse (think: job satisfaction).

    One of the biggest challenges for me, as I integrated coaching into my nursing practice may well have been setting aside my drive to be the expert. It can be extraordinarily difficult to step outside the identity and role for which we are educated, valued, and paid. Coaching puts the patient in the expert role, which involves a significant mindset shift for the nurse. This is part of the reason why Linda Bark, one of the original founders of nurse coaching, explains in her 2011 book, Wisdom of the Whole, that additional education is usually necessary for nurses who want to provide coaching to their patients (p. 29).

    5. Coaching can transform the industry of healthcare.

    Coaching can help nurses manage change and solve problems effectively as individuals, as one-on-one care providers, as members of multidisciplinary teams, and as members of healthcare organizations. As the healthcare industry grows and changes in response to new technologies and increasing quantities of data, more emphasis will need to be placed on effective communication. As usual, nurses will be on the front lines of care. And, in my humble opinion, the nurses who are most familiar with coaching will be the most effective communicators.

    At the organizational level, coaching can help any company, team, or group develop and foster a culture of trust, which supports the need for innovation and responsiveness to change that the future is bringing to healthcare.

    Questions and invitation to comment:

    What might you hire a coach to help you with in your personal life? When have you used coaching skills with your patients or seen the opportunity to do so? Does your healthcare organization utilize or promote coaching?

    There is more to come in this series of articles on nurse coaching. Meanwhile, in case you missed it, here is a link to Part 1 of Orientation to Nurse Coaching:

    Orientation to Nurse Coaching: What Is Coaching Anyway


    Sources and Resources:

    Introduction to Self-Care - University at Buffalo School of Social Work - University at Buffalo

    The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World

    Nursing, Executive Coaching

    Oxytocin, motivation and the role of dopamine

    What is Coaching? - How to be an Effective Coach

    Wisdom of the Whole: Coaching for Joy, Health and Success
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    About Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN, HTCP, MSN, RN, NP

    Lane is a certified Conversational Intelligence ® coach and integrates coaching into her private wellness consulting practice. She is a graduate of the Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy, and her ICF coach certification is in progress.

    Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN, HTCP has '6' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Family Nurse Practitioner'. From 'Napa, CA, USA'; Joined Oct '16; Posts: 39; Likes: 134.

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  3. by   Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN, HTCP
    If you found the information in this article intriguing and you want some hands-on practices to try, check out the article:
    Two Mnemonics for Nurse Coaching - RULE and WAIT at
    Two Mnemonics for Nurse Coaching Improve Change Talk: RULE and WAIT

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