From coachee to coach – how NHS England coaching planted a seed

Rebecca Hall is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner working in primary care. She signed up for #LookingAfterYouToo coaching available to the primary care workforce to improve her confidence and resilience. Here, she talks about what she learnt and how her positive experience gave her a fresh outlook and presented new opportunities.   

I have been a nurse for 25 years and have always had an interest in self-care and increasing resilience through reflection, which I have found over the years to be a great tool to help improve self-awareness. I first heard about primary care coaching through a ‘Looking After Yourself’ series of webinars, which were insightful and helped me to find new ways to support myself both professionally and personally.

Soon, I identified that I frequently avoided conflict and always took on more than I should or found it difficult to say no to – I have even changed jobs to avoid conflict. This was a recurring behaviour and when there was once more conflict at work, I caught myself thinking of calling it a day again.

Realising that I needed to manage this feeling and take control, I sought one-to-one coaching with the #LookingAfterYouToo team. I feel so strongly about coaching that I wanted to share my journey.

I didn’t know what to expect but was intrigued. I signed up for a coaching session the very next day. I presumed that as I had displayed conflict avoidance behaviour for most of my adult life that it would take more than one session to change these beliefs that underpinned this behaviour, however, I was delighted that I could begin to understand that maybe my thoughts of how others perceived me were wrong.

My coach supported me in looking into the self-limiting thoughts that drive my behaviour and I acquired the tools to improve my confidence, which felt amazing. I felt more comfortable and in control of managing conflict and was therefore able to explore other projects and challenges in subsequent sessions.

During my sessions, I learnt to challenge those niggly thoughts that had stopped me doing the things I had wanted to do. I became more confident in discussing things that before I would have avoided or felt uncomfortable talking about. This assertiveness helped me feel that I could be honest about my thoughts and feelings with others, able to deal with conflict and therefore be more in control of my own future.

As a result, my resilience has improved, and I am better able to deal with change. My relationships inside and outside of work are healthier than ever and I feel so much happier in my job. The coaching felt like a golden ticket to better things, so I kept going and applied to work for the local GP hub on my days off.

My experience of coaching is such a positive one that I suggested it to colleagues and others working in primary care. They were reluctant to explore this any further but when I saw coaching workshops on offer for NHS primary care clinicians, I jumped at the chance to support others as I had been supported. Before the #LookingAfterYouToo coaching I don’t think that I would have had the tenacity to go for such a role, but with the seed planted my glowing application spoke for itself as I was offered a space on the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) practitioner course.

I initially found the course challenging as I am so used to solving other people’s problems as a clinician. Coaching is a completely different way of communicating; it involves saying less, listening more and using open questions to enable others to thrive. I absolutely loved the course and find coaching others as meaningful as I do nursing. Once I have completed the course I will continue to coach, have supervision and access the CPD and apply for the European Individual Coaching (EIA) accreditation.

My coaching course has given me the insight, tools and communication skills to support other people in exploring their own future aims, projects, goals and challenges. Often by the time a coachee has explored a challenge they realise they have discovered the means to self-manage, enabling them to see the challenge differently. As we are all individuals our solutions will always be individual to us and coaching supports others in exploring them.

In less than a year I have become the coach to the coachee and am able to challenge and explore the self-limiting beliefs that I have about myself as my coachees do in their sessions with me. I would highly recommend coaching if you need someone to speak to. Coaching is for everyone as it supports the individual in learning that anything is possible.

See how coaching can help you. Anyone working in primary care can access the #LookingAfterYouToo coaching support today.

Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care and Lead Nurse for the E4 Network PCN.

She has completed the coach practitioner programme with NHS London Leadership Academy, a course that holds the European Quality Award conferred by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.