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3 Ways to Assess Your Wellness Literacy

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Specializes in Wellness and Coaching for Women in their Third Act. Has 54 years experience.

Early in my nursing career, I remember developing frustration over taking care of patients who had conditions I sensed could have been prevented. Of course I wasn’t taking the greatest care of myself either at that time! What was really going on with me was not being true to myself by being a bedside nurse. I had an innate knowing that there had to be a better way to deal with my nursing career.

3 Ways to Assess Your Wellness Literacy

That "intuitive hit" propelled me away from the bedside and into the role of School Nurse which seemed a better fit for me. I could now teach students, staff and parents how to stay healthy. At least I thought I could.

What I soon discovered was I had a knowledge deficit

I really didn't know much about prevention and wellness, just all the medical skills of basic nursing. That worked well for me doing clinical work in my job, but I was a novice at education. I remember being asked to present a class on heart health by a science teacher, and because I was a nurse he assumed I knew everything about health. As it turned out, he knew more than me and I was quite humbled by that experience. I really felt I had let him down, was totally embarrassed and needed to correct that right away. I knew I was not fully equipped to take on the role of prevention specialist, even though I was a nurse.

Back to School

So back to school I went to pursue everything and anything that was being offered on health education, prevention and wellness. And what I discovered was I had a lot to learn. But I found it to be FUN and effortless and therefore knew I had found the type of nursing that I could excel at - Health and Wellness. Before I knew it, I had completed a Masters Degree in Health Education and was perfectly poised to embark on my career as a wellness specialist.

Now back to the role of the traditional nurse

Not everyone wants to abandon that role and I totally appreciate that. After all I still believe nurses are awesome! It is still the best background I could ever have pursued to get me to this next level which is a better fit for me. We have a tremendous background on the workings of the body and illness and disease processes, but truth be told, we are not prevention specialists.

And yet, because we are nurses, people think we know everything there is about being healthy. Today most people are looking for a way out from under all the drugs and surgeries that healthcare promotes, so I think nurses can become wellness advocates to help them find the way. But first you need to assess for yourself if you have a knowledge deficit when it comes to wellness and prevention.

So please answer these questions for yourself

  1. Do you consider yourself an expert on how to prevent illness and disease?
  2. Do others expect you to know everything about how to stay healthy?
  3. Do you know more about taking care of diseases rather than keeping people well?

Hopefully this was thought provoking. My experience with nurses is they haven't had the opportunity to focus on wellness because they are overwhelmed with all the chronic diseases they deal with daily. So my invitation to you is to follow this Wellness Blog for Nurses to start acquiring information and ideas that will help you build up your knowledge on how prevention works and how it will be the lifeline to a healthier future for our patients, ourselves, and the healthcare industry as well.

Optional FREE Bonus: Here is a special Wellness Assessment that I use in my business that takes about 10 minutes and gives you 3 HIPAA certified reports that might be useful for you.

  1. Health Risk Assessment
  2. Healthy Lifestyle Plan
  3. Nutrition Profile

And now please comment on whether people expect you to know everything about how to stay healthy - even when you might not know the answers - and how you have handled that.

Carol Ebert RN, BSN, MA, CHES, Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Mindful Coach, Sanoviv Nutrition Advisor

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4 Comment(s)

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I loved the teaching aspect of nursing; unfortunately, when you're running the floors you don't get much of a chance to do it. However, I did get that chance in my role as a DON in assisted living. Most of the residents still had their wits about them and they were eager for knowledge, and they often asked me questions about their conditions that their doctors weren't explaining in terms they could understand. But even so, the focus was on illness, not wellness, and I am the last person on earth who should be preaching on how to live a healthy life. I eat too many carbs, don't exercise, have never had a colonoscopy...just about the only thing I've done right is giving up soda and losing 100 lbs.

As Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers age, a focus on the prevention of disease is going to be badly needed or the healthcare system will collapse. To be honest, it's *almost* too late for us Boomers as so many of our generation are already battling cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses in our late 50s, 60s and early 70s. But it doesn't have to be. Education is the key, and nurses are in the best position to give it.

Elektra6, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Home Health, LTC, subacute. Has 16 years experience.

Can you post the link for the blog?

Carol Ebert, MSN, RN

Specializes in Wellness and Coaching for Women in their Third Act. Has 54 years experience.

I totally agree with your sentiments, except I still feel it is not too late to regain more health. I have seen great results in my wellness work, including reversing Type 2 Diabetes. Yes it takes work on your part, but well worth it to live longer and feel better. And you are to be commended on losing all that weight and giving up soda. Congratulations!