We continue my interview, Taking a Pass on Prevention, with Tracy Whitworth…
Something I’ve noticed as I coach more and more nurses is how often they are already using some of the basic coaching skills and often are unaware of it. Coach training increases their awareness so they can consciously build in use of the tools more frequently instead of wondering why sometimes their patient dialogue is effective and other times they feel like they just can’t get through. Nurses are also often already very patient-centered so they know to honor patients’ wishes.
How has the coach training helped you be more at peace when a patient or survivor makes a choice that you wouldn’t personally necessarily feel is in their best interest such as avoiding preventative scans?
As nurses, most of us were taught some type of therapeutic communication techniques. The approaches are set up as more of a fact finding endeavor, though the techniques did include validation as well as acknowledging the patients concerns. However, it also resulted in the nurse making suggestion regarding interventions or giving choices to the client and not necessarily empowering the client to come to his/her own conclusions.
Using the Coach Centric approach, I am now finding I am getting out of my own way and clearing a path for the client to interact and take control of their care. I still educate and help guide, but now I trust the client to work towards the goal in a way they know is best and truly does work for them. By approaching my clients this way, I am able to make peace with whatever they decide because they are making their decision – based on information provided – by what they define as best or quality for them.
What other insights do you have you can share that might help someone struggling with fears that are holding them back from following their medical team’s recommendations for preventative tests?
If I can place emphasis on only one thing, it’s to communicate. Figure out how you best communicate with others, whether that’s by making lists, having a trusted person with you, or using a tablet to assist you. Take whatever form it is and communicate your needs to your care team. Express your concerns and fears, talk to your physicians, nurses, medical assistance, whoever is your go-to person with your physician’s office. Get those pieces of communication flowing. You may just be surprised by the response you receive.
Tracy, thank you for sharing your insights as well as the encouraging messages for survivors. You’ve brought light to some powerful tools survivors and caregivers can use to be advocates for what they need during their cancer journey.
Our next interview, Bridging the Gap: Coaching Around Medical Decisions, focuses on the healthcare practitioner experience as it relates to choices their patients make and some of the related challenges that result.