How a Nurse Coach Might Help Your Facility

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Katherine Zheng, PhD, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A nurse coach works with one of her new nurses.

A nurse health coach can provide an integrated approach to addressing health concerns in your organization. They help to improve different aspects of a patient’s life to achieve an overall sense of well-being and resilience. Unlike staff nurses, their patient interactions consist of verbal guidance rather than engaging in hands-on procedures such as medication administration or wound care.

Their potential to enhance patient outcomes could benefit your facility, but are nurse coaches worth the expense? Below you’ll learn what this position entails and find answers to other commonly asked questions.

What Is a Nurse Coach and What Do They Do?

Nurse coaches focus on holistic health by providing lifestyle coaching. They support patients by offering guidance regarding different aspects of health: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Examples of their tasks include:

  • Showing patients techniques to process and express emotions in a healthy way
  • Helping patients improve their dietary choices
  • Increasing body literacy — learning about and tuning in to the body’s natural rhythms
  • Communicating pertinent information to the rest of the healthcare team
  • Active listening
  • Sharing useful resources with patients

What Is Holistic Health and Why Is it Important?

Many diseases are the result of a culmination of factors rather than a sole origin. A holistic approach to healthcare addresses the whole person rather than only focusing on the disease. When pharmaceuticals are necessary, they are combined with lifestyle adjustments to achieve and maintain health. This is where a nurse coach comes in. They help patients navigate these lifestyle adjustments that are needed to optimize treatment. This process may involve:

  • Confronting underlying mental and emotional factors influencing health choices.
  • Exploring economic and social factors that impact access to healthcare.
  • Fostering spirituality that provides meaning and motivates a patient to stay healthy.

For example, imagine a patient who is suffering from diabetes complications. While correcting high blood sugars with insulin is necessary, the patient may also have cultural or spiritual considerations that impact what they can and cannot eat in their daily life. A nurse coach will walk through these considerations with the patient, helping them formulate and stick to a suitable diet plan that both aligns with their values and helps them control their blood sugar.

Having these services can improve a patient’s satisfaction with the extra levels of care they receive at your facility. This increases the possibility that they will entrust you with their care and refer their peers to your facility in the future. This option could also attract patients who intentionally want to incorporate a holistic approach to their health.

What Types of Facilities Hire Nurse Coaches?

Nearly any facility within or related to healthcare could benefit from hiring a nurse coach. Here are a few examples:

  • Hospitals
  • Private practices
  • Community health centers
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospice facilities

How Might a Nurse Health Coach Enhance Your Facility?

Now that you can answer the question, What is a nurse coach? You may be wondering whether you should bring one onto your team. Here are three specific ways that they can add value to your operations and enhance the care for your patients.

1. Improve Information Sharing Across Departments

Since nurse coaches specialize in integrating multiple aspects of a patient’s life, they can provide valuable information to a variety of team members. These unique insights can be useful when there’s a disconnect between departments regarding a shared patient.

Nurse coaching enables patients to relay their concerns and expedite pertinent information to different departments that could have taken longer to be communicated otherwise. Learning necessary information sooner could save the facility resources down the line, and relieve stressors from time constraints if different departments must collaborate.

2. Address Issues Promptly

Nurse coaches work to improve the patient’s overall well-being and can promptly address issues that might be exacerbated if left to other departments. For example, imagine a nurse health coach working with a patient suffering from complications due to obesity. The patient hasn’t been exercising despite past education on the benefits.

While addressing the patient’s emotional state, the nurse coach learns that the patient is still grieving the death of a loved one and is showing signs of depression. The coach can pass this along to coworkers with access to mental health and grief services. If the patient accepts this help, they may gain motivation to exercise and be more mindful of their diet.

In this case, both the patient and facility are spared the resources required to fix further complications because the nurse coach shared information earlier than the patient would have. This not only results in improved quality of care, but can also save your facility time and money in the long run.

3. Boost Staff Morale

The added support provided by nurse coaches can also reduce strain on other departments and heighten morale when coworkers witness a patient maintaining optimal health. This increased morale can improve staff retention rates and is an integral aspect of a healthy work culture.

Nurse coaches can also support and guide staff just like they do for patients. They can help improve the staff members’ sense of well-being by advising them on how to create a healthier work-life balance, make lifestyle changes that improve mental health, aid their exploration of self-awareness, and more.

If your company shows that it prioritizes employee well-being, your employees may be more likely to remain at your facility, be more invested in their work, and openly communicate concerns and new ideas.

Are There any Disadvantages to Hiring a Nurse Coach?

One reason you might not want to create this position is if your company doesn’t abide by a holistic model. If you specialize in addressing disease solely with pharmaceuticals or another specific modality, hiring someone with such a broad perspective might not be a good fit and could end up creating more friction.

Another potential disadvantage is if their salary exceeds your budget. As with hiring any new employee, you would need to ensure that this position doesn’t cause undue financial strain. As a part of that process, you’ll need to weigh all the likely costs and benefits. For example, there may be less obvious costs involved with integrating a brand new role on your team. And when measuring potential benefits, it’s important to determine whether they could be realized with your specific patients and providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a holistic nurse and a nurse coach?

A holistic nurse and nurse health coach share similar values, but their exact duties can differ. A holistic nurse typically delivers hands-on care like any other staff nurse while integrating holistic principles into their daily practice. Conversely, a nurse coach does not deliver hands-on care. They instead focus on verbally guiding and supporting patients through lifestyle changes that complement what the rest of the healthcare team is doing.

What can nurse coaches do?

Nurse coaches are registered nurses (RNs) who may also receive specialized certification in holistic health or coaching. This equips nurse coaches with the knowledge and credentials needed to apply nursing knowledge and processes in their daily work. While the role of a coach does not involve hands-on care, nurse coaches can use their knowledge to consult, educate, and advocate for patients who need help adopting lifestyle changes that support treatment.

Why hire a nurse coach?

A nurse health coach can be a great way to round out your healthcare team. While your medical staff are working to deliver pharmaceutical treatment, a coach can help bridge the other non-medical needs of your patients to improve outcomes. They focus on factors that can improve patient-centered care, which can enhance the work of your other providers while fostering long-term health maintenance among your patients.

Looking for More Ways to Build a Cohesive Care Team?

There are plenty of great reasons to hire a nurse coach, yet this is probably just one of many staffing decisions you must consider to remain successful. Sign up for our free newsletter for access to updated industry news and insights, so you can feel confident in making the best choices for your facility.

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