What compelled you to provide education around secondary traumatic stress for nurses?

Back in 2011, when I became an educator in the hospital, I went to a conference and heard about compassion fatigue and I realized I was experiencing it. The speaker mentioned the book Self-Healing Through Reflection and I bought it right away. From the book, I learned about compassion fatigue, moral distress, and STS. For me, the most surprising and helpful thing to learn was how we can experience trauma vicariously and how it has the same signs as PTSD. I began to incorporate teaching about these topics into whatever course I taught, but I was frustrated to always be limited by the organizational goals which were often short term and reactionary (which did not include reducing compassion fatigue and STS). 

What are the ways in which you have advocated for nurses and what are you currently involved in? 

I am not a yes employee. I was often in meetings pushing back and asking questions and asking for data around initiatives in the hospital that I believed contributed to burnout (high demands, low resources). I advocated for the inclusion of self-care education in new graduate training and everywhere I could put it. Eventually, I left the hospital to teach college students and to create a place to talk about these ideas (@thewholenurse_). I continue to write online publications, present at symposiums, and teach. Currently, I am working on a place for professional caregivers to share their own stories through live storytelling events in the LA area and on my new podcast, The Lamp (@thelamp.podcast). Caregivers are humans having a human experience and these spaces are places of community and support.

What message do you wish to impart on those that have experienced compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress and feel hopeless?

I want to tell you that you are not alone. Our work is hard and we are all deeply impacted by it. There is a community of people ready to support you and listen to you.  You are worthy of the investment in self-love through all of the things you may have put off. Take it one step at a time if you need to, but start choosing to take care of you. You are worthy of the investment of hope and the investment of time.  



What does wellness mean to you and how do you practice wellness in your daily life?

Wellness for me is wholehearted living in alignment with my actions, values, and purpose. It’s reveling in the joy of everyday life by expressing gratitude towards the little things. It’s a balance between passion, work, and self care. It’s calling my loved ones every night and waking up early before a shift to read journal articles on my favorite topics. It’s eating whole and yummy foods that make me happy dance. It’s grounding myself through a meditation and vinyasa flow. It’s a walk in nature with my pup Kimora and breathing the fresh air.

What is your best advice for someone that has a hard time consistently implementing practices in their life?

My best advice is to give yourself grace and look inwards. This is something I’ve needed to remember when I get down on myself. I firmly believe a mindset of self love is everything! Associating our lifestyle choices with positivity will take us further than feelings of frustration and negativity ever will. Ultimately, I feel that sustainable practices are achieved when we approach them with life as a whole with excitement and joy!

 What compelled you to enroll in the IIN and how do you plan to integrate that information into your life and help others?

I’ve always been fascinated by the connection between the human body and health. In nursing school many of my projects were focused on holistic practices and incorporating nutrition education and alternative therapies, such as practicing sitting yoga with disabled patients. Through realizing my lifelong passion for health and wellness, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to round out my education and empower individuals to make healthy sustainable choices for their mind, body and spirit.


What is your definition of wellness and how do you practice wellness on a daily basis?

To me, the definition of wellness is anything that improves your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gym membership, sauna sessions, or a wellness retreat. Instead it’s the small things you do each day to protect your well-being from the constant stress of everyday life.

What has been the biggest lesson that you’ve learned in your journey as a PA?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned on my journey as a PA and the best advice I can give a new PA is never say anything without the knowledge to back it up. Stay abreast of the latest clinical data and be confident in what you know. Be humble in what you don’t. You are competent and capable. 

What are the factors that can make or break your happiness and well-being at work? What’s essential for a thriving workplace?

Ample time with patients, comradery and healthy workplace relationships, and work-life balance. I feel very lucky to be in a workplace environment where I feel supported and respected. 




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