Nurse wants medical workers to practice what they preach

When it comes to health, Amea Givens of North Las Vegas said she did a better job helping patients than herself.

Givens, who grew up in a family of nurses and has been in the field for about 10 years, said she noticed it when she was treating a patient of Epic Healthcare home services, where she has worked for nearly two years.

“I was teaching a diabetic patient about his diet and how he should get exercise, portion control, six small meals a day, the whole deal, and something clicked,” Givens said. “I was overweight, I was unhappy, my stress and anxiety was at an all-time high because of the weight and the patient volume.

“While teaching him, I decided that I was going to be an example because I felt like he was looking at me like, ‘OK you’re telling me this, but what are you doing?’ We weren’t practicing what we preached.”

She realized she and her co-workers would often sit around and talk about losing weight, but would order takeout food — whenever they had time to take a break — while others smoked and engaged in other unhealthy habits, she said. So that evening, Givens began researching health concerns that medical professionals experienced and realized they were not alone.

Many medical companies lack the resources to provide wellness programs for their employees, she said, adding that she thinks nurses get overlooked often.

“I guarantee you, if you have well nurses, the patient is going to get nothing but 100 percent of care because we’re mentally stable, we’re physically stable, we’re emotionally stable and we have support,” she said.

So after changing her eating habits, exercising regularly and losing 60 pounds, she decided to start a program for medical professionals. She enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition about three months ago to pursue certification as a health care coach. Since starting school, she has started a program called Optimize to Reset Your Health, a 30-day virtual program for medical workers.

She also started a Meetup.org group called Well Mornings with Medi’s for locals to exercise together. She plans to add walking, hiking and yoga workouts in October, she said.

Elisa Buggs of Moreno Valley, California, who has been working as a nurse for about 13 years, participated in Givens’ first program in July. She said she felt unhealthy because her sleep patterns were off. She said she typically works mornings, but she also does pediatric home care on the side three days a week. Buggs, who has been friends with Givens since childhood, said she joined because her job doesn’t have a similar program.

“With these jobs, there’s not many programs to support us because we work so many hours,” she said. “I like how she did the program. She went through it with us.”

After changing her eating habits, she said, she lost 14 pounds in two weeks.

Monique Sorrells of Baltimore is a patient-service coordinator at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She said she lost 12 pounds while in the program.

“Before I was never watching what I ate,” she said. “I didn’t care about it. I was always eating fast food. I was never taking time out to prepare my meals. I was not healthy at all.”

She said that the most valuable information that she took away was how to take out bad carbohydrates, how to make on-the-go breakfasts and what healthy snacks she could eat. She also walks at least three times a week for about 30 minutes each now.

“I would recommend this program to anybody,” she said. “She really opened my eyes to a lot of things.”

Givens said her goal is to open a wellness center for medical professionals that will be an “oasis” for them to enjoy a spa, undergo smoking-cessation programs and take cooking classes.

Contact Kailyn Brown at kbrown@viewnews.com or 702-387-5233. Follow @kailynhype on Twitter.

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