5 questions about working for a nurse advice line

(Pennlive.com) NAME: Cindy Waltz 
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TITLE: Registered nurse health coach 
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COMPANY: Highmark Inc. 
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YEARS IN FIELD: 35 

Q: What does an on-call nurse do? 

A: As Highmark health coaches, we are all registered nurses and we answer any health concerns and questions our members may have at any time of the day. We also do symptom checks, which involve asking our members “yes/no” questions regarding any symptoms. Depending on the response, we then advise the best course of action to take, whether it is calling a primary care doctor, going to the ER, calling 911 or maybe a home treatment suggestion.

We are here to help support our members in improving and maintaining healthy lives. We are simply our members’ go-to person and personal contact for any health issue. 
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Q: What kind of training do you have? 

A: I graduated from nursing school in 1977, then worked in pediatrics for 13 years as a charge nurse. I then worked as a clinical supervisor for a home health agency for 17 years. I have been a health coach for Highmark for the past four years.

One of my more unique training experiences included motivational interviewing courses, which help me assist our members to learn what, if any, health barriers exist and how to overcome them. 
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Q: Why did you decide to enter this line of work? 

A: As an on-call nurse, I love coaching and helping people with their questions. Increasing understanding of a current health issue is so important to one’s overall well-being. That knowledge can go a long way. 
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Q: What is one of the biggest challenges of your job? 

A: Part of my job also requires me to call members to learn more about his/her health engagement level. There are some instances that I learn the member really has no personal health interest, and that can be a huge challenge. I want to be there for our members, but it can’t be forced. So we look for avenues in which we can engage members in a way that best fits individual needs, lifestyle and communication preferences, and hope that he/she will eventually want to become more involved with his/her personal health. 
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Q: What is one of the greatest joys of your job? 

A: One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when at the end of a call, the member says “you really helped me” or “wow, I didn’t realize that!” When I learn from a member that his/her blood sugar level is at an acceptable value; or weight is checked every day if he/she has congestive heart failure; or a member is now aware of impending symptoms and catches a problem early — that is the ultimate. It is wonderful. 

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