Nursing and Educating: @JoyceHarrellRN Promotes Holistic Wellness

my worldmoms making a difference

Joyce Harrell is an advocate for wellness. Technically, she's a nurse and a mother and a blogger, but her passion about helping sick people recover fully and well people live more fully pervades everything she does.

Joyce has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years. Her mission started developing about 13 years ago, when a cancer treatment center opened up next to the hospital where she worked.  She became a nurse at the center, and quickly ascended the ranks, becoming an Oncology Nurse Manager, which she did for over eight years. She enjoyed it and she did it well, but her responsibilities became more administrative over time and less patient-oriented. When she walked out of her office one day and noticed she didn't know most of the patients in her unit, she had a pivotal life moment. This wasn't quite what she wanted to do.

So she stepped down from her position and took a weekend and evenings nursing job at a different hospital so that she could interact more with patients and write more about wellness. She started She created workshops, webinars, and ebooks on stress management, goal setting, meal planning, whole food eating, wellness for cancer patients and caregivers, and the art of caring for nurses. She pushes for nurses to "establish caring relationships with patients" (see Dr. Jean Watson's Caring Theory) by treating them as holistic beings (having body, mind and spirit), displaying unconditional acceptance, and promoting health through knowledge and intervention, among other things. She teaches them to find the balance in treating both the physical and mental aspects of each patient.

She also urges mothers and other caregivers to find balance in their responsibilities. These people likewise tend to focus primarily on the needs of those they care for, leaving little time to take care of themselves. "We're like glasses of water," she says. "When we take care of others, we're pouring water out. You're going to get to empty if you don't fill your glass. It is not selfish to take care of yourself."

What's interesting is that these things seem like they should be self-evident: nurses should care about patients and caregivers should take care of themselves so that they can care for others. Yet, there is so much that competes and prevents them from doing so, says Joyce. Nurses are often more focused on making sure they do everything right medically and in accordance with doctors' orders which is, in itself, a complex task. Mothers likewise strive rigorously for perfection in their children's lives.

Joyce helps all caregivers, as well as some patients, assess their state of being using the Wellness Inventory, which is a whole person assessment program based on the work of wellness pioneer John W. Travis, MD, MPH. A truly well person will have balanced scores in each of 12 areas: self-responsibility and love, breathing, sensing, eating, moving, feeling, thinking, playing and working, communicating, [finding] intimacy, finding meaning, and transcending. How she helps people find balance in each of the 12 areas...well, that would be the subject of 12 other posts. It is, in fact, the basis of her website ( Indeed, it is her passion.

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