Nurses as coaches? The truth is, many nurses have already been using coaching skills to help their patients. Now nurse coaching is finally being recognized as a viable field in its own right. Starting in January 2013, nurses can earn professional certification as a coach. The American Nurses Association (ANA) even validates nurse coaching in its book entitled The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide to Coaching Scope and Competencies.
Darlene Hess, co-author of The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching, says that instead of sending patients home with a to-do list, nurses can become more involved in guiding patients to better health. “The nurse coaching process begins with the ability to become fully present with self and with the patient,” explained Hess, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, PMHNP-BC, ACC, HWNC-BC, director of Brown Mountain Visions. “Then the nurse coach uses active listening, powerful questioning and direct communication to assist the client to identify goals, create action steps and evaluate progress.”
Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, notes that coaching helps patients help themselves in dealing with the regimented routines of a chronic illness. Albert is senior director of the office of research and innovation for the Nursing Institute and clinical nurse specialist for the Kaufman Center for Heart Failure in the Heart and Vascular Institute at The Cleveland Clinic. “From a patient perspective, coaching is often used to teach patients and facilitate adherence to self-care practices associated with chronic medical diagnoses such as heart failure, osteoarthritis, diabetes and chronic lung disease,” said Albert. “Nurses who use coaching principles effectively will be able to have well-balanced communication with patients, families and caregivers that fosters collaborative practice and behavior change support.”
It's all about communication and improving clinical results, notes Albert. “As people in the U.S. age, we are more likely to see the rates of common chronic diseases increase over time. Nurses who are skilled in coaching have added tools in their tool belt they can use to improve patient–healthcare provider communication and enhance clinical outcomes,” said Albert. “Coaching is an ideal model to use to understand patients’ desires, constraints and barriers, and then use the knowledge to develop an ongoing plan of care.”
Barbara M. Dossey, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, HWNC-BC, co-director of the International Nurse Coach Association, core faculty member for the Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program and co-author of The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching feels that nurse coaches can draw out a patient’s strengths to take better care of themselves. “We use the expression that we are walking with clients through a discovery process,” said Dossey. “We all know that we need to eat healthfully, exercise and reduce stress, but we need help to tap into being more creative, more resilient and how to reduce our anxiety and fear of frustration. This is where we use our coaching competencies to connect with patient strengths and what they want to learn and do with their lives.”
If you’re interested in becoming a nurse coach, you can sign up for continuing education courses in coach training and become certified through the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation.
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