Meet Nurse Health Coach Elizabeth Scala: Helping RNs Avoid Burnout, Achieve Balance

Friday, May 10th, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN, MBA, RN, professional nurse coach, and founder of Living Sublime Wellness.

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

(Elizabeth Scala) My first job out of college was as a psychiatric nurse at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on a general adult inpatient unit. I got into coaching because the way I was living my life while I worked as a nurse was completely unhealthy. I had no spiritual life; my mental/emotional health was a roller coaster ride; my physical health was in the toilet. So I took a huge risk — against my parents’ wishes — and left that job to take care of me. I went to work at a wellness center, running their physician referral exercise program. At the gym, I was surrounded by exercise, nutrition, and people who could help me. I realized (and remembered) that I enjoyed being and living healthy! So I got into a health coaching training program so that I could do more at the club. That led to me loving it and deciding to open up my own practice so that I could help more nurses like me — who had lost their love of life and their passion for their career.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications.

I went through the Wellcoaches certified health and wellness coaching training program.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

Not yet. I know this is what I want to do, but I still have fears and doubts (as any human being would and does). I still work part-time at Johns Hopkins, as my coaching business doesn’t fully support me, but I have faith and optimism (and hard work, dedication, passion, commitment, and self-care practices) that sustain me and help me to know that I am meant to do this work!

In brief, describe your organization.

My company is called Living Sublime Wellness. I use a variety of modalities with my work. As a nurse, health coach, and Reiki Master, I primarily work with nurses and healthcare professionals who are looking to make and sustain healthy lifestyles. I also host a bi-weekly radio show that is available via my iTunes channel and the Blog Talk Radio archive page. I put on monthly wellness workshops via interactive webinar, which vary each month in topic to speak to my belief that well-being is holistic. I love doing in-person talks on the essential steps to well being for nursing associations, nurse conferences, nurse departments, and anything/anybody nursing! I run small group coaching programs and work with clients one-on-one. And I tie Reiki into it all. I use distance Reiki with my coaching clients; participate in Reiki sharing and clinics; work on Reiki research at my hospital job; give Reiki treatments; and teach Reiki to groups.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

I don’t tell people what to do. It is my core belief that the answers, the healing, the help is all within us. We just need to take and make the time to listen and get to know ourselves. As a coach, I help people get the inside stuff out and allow them to really hear themselves. Then together we find the answers, ideas, and tools that work for them!

My second belief is that health is holistic. If I am eating well, but hating my job, am I healthy? If I work out all day but then go eat take-out and binge drink all night, am I healthy? No! There are many, many aspects that go into total well-being: in addition to the obvious three (physical, nutritional, and mental/emotional). We’ve got career, social, spiritual, environmental aspects to consider. Wellness is a total lifestyle. We can’t fix ourselves overnight with a quick pill. It is a lifestyle that takes time, support, and a broad scope. I work with clients on living healthy in all aspects of their lives.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?

My RejuveNation Collaboration. It is a two-week, 14-speaker, and 14-topic video event. It is a virtual conference that offers a balanced dose of self-care. This event brings unique and diverse experts together from across the country. We have interactive and experiential workshops that the registrants actually participate in. We share a series workbook with reflective exercises; a secret social networking group for interaction with speakers and each other before, during and after the event; and so much more! This time around we added daily mini-meditation breaks and healthy samples of chocolate for participants to take time for themselves and enjoy peace and chocolate meditations. I absolutely love this event. The speakers have a great time getting to know me and each other. And since I do this twice a year, the speakers become a part of the family. We have a ton of fun and each time we do something different to change it up and take it up a notch! In the past this event was targeted at nurses, but we have future visions of expanding our audience and engaging on a larger level.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

Using Reiki as a tool for everything I do. I have seen clients have amazing shifts, just from using distance Reiki in our one-on-one coaching sessions. It helps them to calm down, quiet that extra mental chatter, and really hear themselves so that amazing shifts can occur. Change happens and growth occurs. But I not only bring my Reiki into my coaching calls, I use it in all that I do. I bring my Reiki to my own goals, my health and well-being, and my nurse associations. It is a simple, but wonderful tool.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

I love seeing other people figure things out for themselves. Being in healthcare for this long, this model doesn’t work. A provider tells a patient or prescribes a treatment and more often than not the patient never does it. Why? We are adults… we like making our own choices. We think for ourselves. Quite frankly, we don’t like being told what to do. So as a coach it is awesome to partner with folks so that they choose help, but of course with my gentle nudge. It is then so satisfying to hear back from them about what worked, how they have improved, and maintain it in a lifestyle.

What is the greatest challenge of health coaching, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Being patient. Sometimes I want things to go quicker than they are happening. I just have to relax, let go, breathe, and use some of my own spiritual practices and self-care techniques to remind myself to stay in the moment. It is challenging at times, but so rewarding when possible.

Where did you grow up?

Carmel, N.Y.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

For undergraduate, the University of Delaware. For graduate school, Johns Hopkins University.

Are you married? Do you have children?

Yes, no children, but two dogs.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

Yoga. I love how strong, yet calm I feel afterwards. I love relaxing and breathing and being with myself and my body. I feel very balanced and I need that sense of balance. So even though I enjoy other exercises that may make me sweat more and have my heart beating fast, I love yoga for the hard work yet gentle softness it creates for me.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

I loved Pamela Miles’ book Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide. I also recently enjoyed the Living Yoga book. I always, always recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books, especially Full Catastrophe Living.

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