Angela J. Hammond, BSN, MS


July 27, 2017

Are you considering a change to your career? Our new series of first-person accounts of what it's like to be a nurse in a nontraditional role might provide inspiration to those seeking a new path within nursing.

Two Passions Unite in Worksite Wellness

My journey to become a worksite wellness nurse was made up of small steps and one grand vision: a greater purpose to make a difference. As a worksite wellness nurse, I literally and symbolically "meet the patient where they are at" in their health journey. Worksite wellness unites my two passions: health promotion and nursing.

Figure 1. Angela Hammond, BSN, MS.

I have always gravitated toward health and wellness. It made total sense to me to do what makes your body feel great! Exercise was a huge part of that, so my first degree was in exercise physiology, in corporate wellness and cardiac rehabilitation. After a few years of amazing experiences, I felt an urge to broaden my lens. I found that nursing was the "missing piece." As a nurse, there are so many opportunities to continue growing and make a difference. I obtained certifications to further support my goals for worksite wellness, including becoming a certified American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, a National Wellness Institute (NWI) Certified Wellness Speaker, and a Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist.

In 2013, as a registered nurse health coach, I joined a company called Marathon Health, which provided healthcare services to a large regional convenience store chain in Wisconsin. My previous nursing experiences focused primarily on single episodic problems. In worksite wellness, we tap into all dimensions of wellness, and change how healthcare is delivered by identifying health risks and making life-changing differences to the health of employees—one patient at a time. Health coaching is the framework for this success. My training included a 1-year course in motivational interviewing: a goal-oriented, patient-centered approach to elicit behavior change by building a trusting patient-clinician relationship. I also took courses in such topics as leadership, team management, and conflict resolution.

Every Day Is Different

Figure 2. Angela (right) and a coworker at a 5K race for employees.

Working in worksite wellness involves a tremendous variety of roles and responsibilities. One day I am providing clinical support to the medical providers by taking vital signs, performing lab tests, administering vaccines, and assisting with minor procedures. The next day, I might be leading a "lunch and learn" session on heart health during Heart Month, hosting a company-wide wellness challenge, or providing flu shots or blood pressure checks to patients during their lunch breaks. I also provide individual and group health coaching on lifestyle risk reduction--tobacco cessation, nutrition, exercise, and stress management—and chronic disease management. My patients have made me realize that no encounter is too small to light a spark for optimal wellness (Figure 2).

Not Afraid of 'Hard' Work

Figure 3. Angela provides nutritional counseling to an employee.

I tend to see the challenges of being a worksite nurse as great opportunities. Behavior change is hard, but worksite nurses can do hard! With tools like motivational interviewing and continuing professional development resources, I have learned to never underestimate how one connection, one outreach, one kind gesture can make a difference in someone's life, leading to optimal health. Meeting patients where they are—right at their workplace—is an amazing opportunity to make a real difference! (Figure 3)


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