In a ten minute interaction with a patient, how do you encourage them to make a healthy lifestyle change? As a care coordinator in the Women’s Services department at UF Health Jacksonville, I have the opportunity to motivate clients to engage in healthy behaviors such as physical exercise and healthy eating to prevent adverse disease outcomes such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. One of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences during my service term has been motivating my patients to adopt healthy behaviors. During these interactions, I often think about something our program coordinator encouraged all National Health Corps Florida members to do: create our own personal mission statements. When creating my own mission statement, I thought about many things. What are my values? Who do I hope to serve? What things are most important to me? In meetings with clients, especially virtually, I have found that asking about their goals and values helps me frame the conversation. For some women, their primary goal may be to have a healthy pregnancy. For others, it may be to become financially stable. Then, we center that meeting on what steps we can take to achieve the goal.
Luckily, I was able to conduct home visits and meet with clients on a continual basis to support them in achieving their goals. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are unable to conduct in-person home visits with clients or facilitate gatherings such as our walking club. Although we are able to offer virtual meetings, many clients are not able to or are not interested in meeting virtually. Therefore, we try to provide relevant resources in other ways for having a healthy pregnancy during these times. To supplement the nutrition and fitness education we provide virtually and at our host site, my fellow service member, Reed Campbell, and I started making educational videos on a nutrition or fitness topic that is important during pregnancy with a demonstration related to the topic. For example, in one of our videos, we discussed the benefits of eating folate during pregnancy and did a cooking demonstration of a recipe rich in folate. In the description of each video, we include the recipe, nutrition information, and a price breakdown of the food we prepared. With these nutrition videos, we hope to motivate women to pursue healthy eating and physical exercise during and after their pregnancy.
Although in these times, it is difficult to stay motivated and stay true to my personal mission statement, I find it is helpful to remind myself of why I do what I do. In the same way, I hope to encourage my clients to find their inner motivations for engaging in healthy behaviors. To end, I have included my personal mission statement in hopes that you, too, will take a minute to think about yours:
My mission is to promote the wellness of women and families by motivating them to adopt healthy behaviors, reducing any barriers they may experience to being healthy and happy, and creating a supportive environment in which they can thrive.