Nursing wellness coaching numbers return to pre-pandemic levels

Half hour coaching sessions available on Zoom twice a month in the fall term

The School of Nursing introduced Wellness Coaching for students in November 2019.
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Following low opening numbers, the School of Nursing (SON)’s Wellness Coach is hoping to see more students access her services this fall. 

The SON introduced Wellness Coaching for nursing students on Nov. 5, 2019. Denise  Neumann-Fuhr is continuing her role as Wellness Coach this year, and students can email her to book a 30-minute Zoom coaching session.

“It’s building slowly since it was launched last fall,” Neumann-Fuhr told The Journal. “One thing that I would use to gauge success would be students coming back, and I’ve had several students come back more than once. So, I think that’s a good indication of how it’s going.”

The SON released its Cyclical Program Review results in a December 2019 report, which identified mental health vulnerabilities among nursing students. The school implemented new support initiatives, like Wellness Coaching, in response to the findings. 

READ MORE: Nursing Society president pushing for embedded counsellor

Neumann-Fuhr said she uses careful listening to understand students’ issues and then coaches them toward greater personal wellbeing. She helps students find empowering problem-solving strategies or, if the student prefers, simply acts as someone to confide in.

The Wellness Coaching program isn’t the same thing as psychotherapy or counselling. Rather, it provides an objective person to help students sort through their challenges.

Appointments are available from 3-6 p.m. on Sept. 16, Oct. 6, Oct. 21, Nov. 3, Nov. 18, Dec. 1, and Dec. 16 in the fall term.

“It’s really interesting how the virtual format is actually supporting the ongoing use of this service,” Neumann-Fuhr said. “Coaching works really well virtually.”

According to Neumann-Fuhr, the service hasn’t been widely accessed since the onset of  COVID-19 in March. 

One student used the virtual service on March 18, but the service saw no appointments in April or May. Another student used it in June, but no students used it in July or August.

Now, the numbers are returning to pre-pandemic levels. As of Sept. 15, six students have booked September appointments.

“The numbers are not as high as they could have been because I think that students didn’t understand what they could receive from the service,” Neumann-Fuhr said. “I’m hoping that this year the numbers will go up with the information that I’m sharing.”

In November, the program was made available one day a month for walk-in sessions. Additional coaching days were added in response to student feedback, bringing the total number of students who accessed the service in November to five.

No students used the service in December, three students used it in January, and one student used it in February. Five students used it in March before COVID-19 hit.

READ MORE: LGBTQ+ specific health content in development for Queen’s nursing

An information sheet is being distributed to nursing students to raise awareness about the program. It’s also being advertised in the SON’s weekly newsletter, on social media, and through an onQ undergraduate nursing portal centered on compassion and wellness.

Neumann-Fuhr has a student contact who is coordinating with the Nursing Student Society (NSS) to ensure they also promote the project.

“I think that this is a really valuable service for students and I’m just really hoping that they take good advantage of it,” Neumann-Fuhr said.

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