How to Know if Nurse Coaching is Right for You
By: American Nurses Association
Nurse coaching is a popular alternative career for nurses who are burned out at the bedside. Nurse coaches work in many different areas of healthcare, including in private practice as entrepreneurs. They may serve their colleagues, be part of an interdisciplinary team, or work independently.
How do you know if nurse coaching is the right career for you? Here are a few things to consider.
- Coaching is relationship based. Nurses who value and consistently nurture the client-patient relationship at the bedside or clinic are the most likely to succeed when they choose to switch to coaching. If you enjoy taking time to talk with your patients and are always trying to understand their viewpoint (perhaps so much so that you struggle to finish your tasks on time), then nurse coaching is likely to be a good fit for you.
- The client is in charge. As the coach, you can offer expert advice and help the client develop a collaborative plan, but at the end of the day it is entirely their choice whether or not they follow the plan. If you have a hard time accepting medication refusals, alternative treatment requests, or other deviations from “standard care”, nurse coaching will be challenging for you. If, however, you have always been a strong advocate for alternate methods and finding the unique combination of modalities that will work best for each individual, then you will make a great nurse coach.
- Successful coaching requires good boundaries and robust confidentiality. Your clients will tell you things that they haven’t told anyone else. They will tell you sensitive information, including confidential information about family dynamics, personal habits, struggles, and addictions, at a level that exceeds almost every other area of nursing practice. They will ask for your advice and assistance in sensitive and complex situations. Quite likely, you will find yourself being asked for assistance far outside your area of expertise. Responding professionally to these situations requires wisdom, discretion, strong boundaries, plentiful compassion, and robust confidentiality. You will grow in these areas, of course, but you should be reasonably good at these soft skills even before you begin your nurse coaching career.
- Becoming a competent nurse coach necessitates additional education. Your nursing education provides a strong foundation of knowledge and skills. Becoming a competent nurse coach will require additional knowledge and refined (and perhaps new) skills. If you wish to become a certified nurse coach, there are several educational pathways available, including a comprehensive program and certification exam through the American Nurses Association. Regardless, you will find that you need to continue your habit of lifelong learning, as your clients’ health problems challenge the limits of your skill and knowledge as you walk with them toward better health.
An excellent place to start with your continuing education is available right here on the American Nurses Association website, with a comprehensive book that addresses all your questions about scope and competencies of nurse coaching, as well as a multitude of practical strategies.
The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The Provider’s Guide to Coaching Scope and Competencies, Second Edition is an essential resource for nurses seeking to support clients on their healthcare journey to achieve desired goals for health and healing or transition for peaceful dying. Get your copy here: https://www.nursingworld.org/nurses-books/the-art-and-science-of-nurse-coaching-2nd-edition/