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Orientation to Nurse Coaching: What Is Coaching Anyway?

Nurses Article   (8,308 Views | 1 Replies | 854 Words)

Lane Therrell FNP, MSN, RN has 6 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

7 Followers; 28 Articles; 11,634 Profile Views; 189 Posts

This article is part of a series on coaching and how it benefits nurses. The first two articles in the multi-part series are presented as an orientation to coaching. Future articles will provide more detail about choosing the right coach, becoming a certified nurse coach, integrating coaching skills into your nursing practice, and more.

Orientation to Nurse Coaching: What Is Coaching Anyway?

I first experienced the power of coaching at a local Holistic Nurses Association chapter conference. At the time, I was in nursing school and I was struggling with a decision to stay in school or drop out. Coaching helped me rediscover the part of myself that had been drawn to nursing in the first place. Coaching helped me commit to my decision to remain in school so I could take the actions necessary to graduate. As a result of that experience, I came to believe that coaching holds the potential to transform healthcare, and I was inspired to pursue coach training and certification.

So, what is coaching, anyway? There are almost as many definitions of coaching as there are individuals who care to define it. The International Coach Federation (ICF), one of the top credentialing organizations for coaches of all types worldwide, defines professional coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential." Personally, I like to think of coaching as an effective way to enhance effectiveness.

At its core, coaching is an advanced communication concept. Coaching is highly individualized, flexible, adaptable, and action-oriented. So in many ways, coaching aligns very well with the principles of nursing. However, coaching is also non-directive, non-linear, and multifaceted, so it can seem confusing or abstract at times, especially to individuals who prefer task-oriented or linear thinking.

To clarify any confusion, it may help to look at the other side of the concept and explore what coaching is not. Coaching is not about coming up with the right answers, telling people what to do, or recommending one-size-fits-all solutions. And coaching does not allow a person to dwell in the past. In other words, coaching does not include purely reflective introspection without action. Coaching is not the same as counseling, mentoring, precepting, teaching, training or facilitating. Yet, interestingly enough, each of these disciplines can incorporate coaching principles, often with improved results.

Coaching is especially useful in times of change. So, in situations where change is desired or imminent, where change is currently occurring, or where change has already happened and new circumstances or situations need to be embraced, accepted or maintained, coaching can help. Those who are in the contemplation, preparation, action, or maintenance phases of Prochaska's stages of change model can benefit from most of the various styles of coaching.

Coaching blossomed in popularity during the mid-1990's when rapidly evolving business environments (think: flattening organizational structures, broadening job descriptions, and decreasing job security) created a demand for a workforce that could more easily cope with change. Numerous coaching niches or specialties proliferated because coaching skills and concepts tend to integrate well with other areas of expertise. Today, there are business coaches, life coaches, relationship coaches, health coaches, wellness coaches, and the list goes on.

While critics have at times labeled coaching as a passing business fad, coaching has proven its value to organizations and individuals over time by catalyzing significant and notable improvements in the business bottom line and by helping individuals achieve important professional and personal goals. The popularity of coaching continues to this day, and seems to be growing more popular than ever. I have come to believe the popularity and value of coaching is being so widely embraced in part because of the social pressure our society creates to extract MORE from every aspect of our lives. Coaches promise, and can provide, the tools to assist us in obtaining the superlative pinnacles of excellence Western culture values so highly.

While it is true right now in the U.S. that anyone can promote himself or herself as a coach, there is a strong movement worldwide to professionalize coaching. ICF is one of many professional organizations dedicated to creating and promoting professional practice standards and credentialing for coaches. The American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC) offers a nurse-coach credential. We'll discuss professional coach credentialing in a future article. Those seeking credentialing as a coach should choose their certifying body based on individual needs and circumstances.

Coaching skills have enhanced my own nursing practice both in terms of improved patient outcomes and in terms of career development. Check out the Orientation to Coaching Part 2 article for some specifics about how coaching can benefit nurses, and stay tuned for more about coaching in future articles.

Questions for Comment

What is your experience with Coaching? What aspects of coaching would you like to explore further?

Relevant References and Resources

American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation

Nurse Coach - American Holistic Nurses

International Coach Federation

Coaching FAQs - Need Coaching - ICF

Coaching Effectiveness Study - University of Manchester (2005)

Coaching Services Buying Guide - Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development CIPD UK (2005)

CIPD The Professional Body for Human Resources and People Development

Prochaska's Stages of Change

Lane Therrell is a family nurse practitioner and health empowerment coach in California. She is an adjunct instructor in the nurse practitioner program at Samuel Merritt University. She blogs at www.BestHealthInterest.com

7 Followers; 28 Articles; 11,634 Profile Views; 189 Posts

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18 Posts; 2,148 Profile Views

Very interesting article. I do hope that credentialing and/or certification of Coaches becomes the norm. This will help build professionalism within the coaching world. Would love to hear some examples of how your coaching skills have enhanced your nursing practice....

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