HUNT VALLEY, Md.--(www.AORN.org) had little to go on when they decided to engage a nursing career coach for private sessions with attendees. It had never been done before, so they had no evidence to prove that such an offering would be of interest. There were concerns that attendees would not feel comfortable about signing up for career coaching because seeking a consultation might be misinterpreted by colleagues or managers at the conference. But after three days of a steady line at the door of Dr. Phyllis Quinlan’s onsite office, their concerns were dashed.)--The event managers of the 60th annual congress and tradeshow of the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (
“We were impressed that she had walked in the shoes of our members during her 30-year career in nursing and that she offered very down-to-earth advice”
According to Susan Becia, AORN’s Career Center Manager, “We were amazed over the response, and as nurses told their friends about their private coaching sessions, there was soon a waiting line to see Dr. Quinlan. From their positive evaluations, we could see that our idea not only resonated, it was greatly appreciated. Dr. Quinlan’s deep understanding of their issues and straight-forward coaching style struck a chord with our members.”
AORN became familiar with Dr. Quinlan from her appearances in webcasts produced and sponsored by AORN and other nursing societies in the National Healthcare Career Network’s “Take Charge of Your Nursing Career” learning series. “We were impressed that she had walked in the shoes of our members during her 30-year career in nursing and that she offered very down-to-earth advice,” Ms. Becia said.
Comfort for Caregivers
Phyllis Quinlan, RN, PhD, LNC, CEN, CCRN, commented, “The AORN experience was both gratifying and humbling. The nurses I talked with freely revealed their career experiences, concerns and challenges. I was impressed by the degree of personal courage demonstrated. Many shared their inner-most worries about their careers…their pain was palpable.”
After three, 10-hour days of back-to-back private sessions, Dr. Quinlan found certain commonalities among those she met with, such as concerns about maintaining marketability and job security; dealing with less than healthy work environments and hostile coworkers; being fearful of making mistakes or not being able to move beyond mistakes they’ve made; and balancing the demands of work and family responsibilities.
Dr. Quinlan said, “I truly believe that nursing attracts a certain kind of personality… a need to be needed. Nurses are very generous and they are able to convert their compassion into the action of caring. But nurses don’t always care for their own needs, which can lead to feeling frustrated, inadequate and fearful. Burn-out among nurses is rampant, and yet many don’t recognize the signs. They’re too busy caring for others – patients, families and friends – to focus on their own mental, physical and spiritual well-being. It’s dangerously toxic.”
Healing Strategies for Work/Life Balance
In her new book, The Delicate Balance: A Mindful Approach to Self-Care for Professional & Family Caregivers, Dr. Quinlan illuminates the issues prevalent among nurses and offers insightful ways to help them regain a balanced perspective on their lives and careers. “What I heard at AORN’s conference was not different than what I hear every day from my clients, but it was mass validation that the nursing profession is at risk of losing many talented contributors to issues that can be managed and alleviated.”
Given Dr. Quinlan’s popularity at the conference, AORN has decided to promote her services on its website. As summed up by Ms. Becia, “With hundreds of educational sessions, intensive workshops, over 500 exhibits to visit and a huge array of social events, our attendees had plenty to do during our event. The fact that so many took the time to meet with Dr. Quinlan indicates that our members would benefit from access to her counsel and advice.”