For years, workers have reached out to career coaches to help them find their professional path and wellness coaches have guided weight loss and health programs. It makes sense that nurses would have the best expertise to take on the burgeoning role of nurse coach and help patients achieve their health goals on their own terms. And in a country of increasingly diverse populations, minority nurse coaches will be at the forefront of helping patients through the unique lens of cultural and ethnic traditions and approaches.
The latest attention on nurse coaching certification validates something many nurses have practiced all along, says Margaret Erickson, PhD, APRN, CNS, AHN-BC and executive director of the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation.
1. It’s Official
Nurses can now obtain nurse coaching certification credentials through Erickson’s organization. And although many nurses have routinely used coaching tools in their day-to-day practice, the recent focus on official classes and credentials shows widespread interest in the field.
2. Cultural Knowledge Matters
Coaches, says Erickson, use holistic practices of seeing the whole patient, not just a symptom. Minority nurses play an especially important role when they know the implications of cultural traditions. Yes, someone might have diabetes, but telling them to change a diet that is rich with ethnically familiar or important foods just won’t work.
3. Patients Need a Guide, Not a Director
Everyone knows what they need to do to be well, but we also know it is easier said than done. So a nurse coach won’t tell a patient what to do and won’t offer to “fix” them. Nurse coaches will help guide them in the right direction to find what works for them. Family support might be important for one patient’s plan while other cultures might reject letting everyone know your personal struggles. A nurse who can listen and hear about family dynamics and their cultural implications is a more effective guide.
4. Coaches Build Trust
Everyone wants to tell their story and not just list the different symptoms that have brought them before a nurse. Coaching helps a client define the steps that will help them meet their health goals. Minority nurse coaches can help reverse any assumptions that are made if they already know a bit about the patient’s culture.
5. Under the Wellness Umbrella
Simply put, people are ready for some guidance and for an experienced professional who sees how their health, emotional, and spiritual lives converge under one umbrella we know as well being.
The techniques and skills used with coaching (focused listening, setting and mapping out realistic goals) often overlap the practices from a holistic nursing approach. For patient-focused care, the techniques are invaluable. “Part of our story is our culture,” says Erickson.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.