Nursing Side Gigs: Mental Fitness Coach

Nursing Side Gigs: Mental Fitness Coach

This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight a nurse who is also a mental fitness coach.

While Lakhila Tellis, RN, works full-time as a night shift nurse for a skilled nursing facility that serves people with a wide variety of co-morbidities—including mental illness—in her free time, she has a side gig as a mental fitness coach.

Although Tellis is busy—she has a book coming out in April called Excuse Your Excuses, she took time to answer our questions about her additional job.

How did you get interested in being a Mental Fitness Coach? What drew you to it? How long have you been doing it?

A year ago, I took a speaker mastery course. I knew I wanted to be a motivational speaker. I then considered staying in the realm of health care. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to do to help others such as being a nurse consultant or simply being a motivational speaker. Either way, I wanted to utilize my skills and knowledge to make an impact in many lives. Yet I had to narrow down what direction I wanted go with my speaking career. I actually discovered my niche while writing my book and confirmed my destiny with my talk show Activities of Daily Living. While developing content for my show, I was led to help people get mentally fit.

Explain to me briefly what a Mental Fitness Coach is. Did you have to get additional training/education to do it?

Do you know how a physical fitness coach or trainer helps to shape up your body and improve your eating habits? They evaluate the whole you to improve your lifestyle. As a mental fitness coach, I use the same process. I evaluate what the problem is for my client, and we work together to create an action plan and implement what needs to be done to improve their mental habits and mental lifestyle. I did not take any specific class to become a coach, but I use my personal experiences and my 20 years of nursing knowledge.

What types of people do you serve? What are they looking for and what do you provide for them?  

Always having a great desire to help women, I decided to use my experience. It was time I helped women overcome past traumas and abuse, to help them live a happier and more fulfilling life. My clients are fed up with feeling sad, depressed, and useless. It is highly likely they may be able to fake happiness, but they are lost, alone, and probably do not understand why they feel the way they do. Their self-esteem is low and they under value themselves because they cannot see or feel their beauty outside or inside their mind and body.

What I do is, I use strategic methods customary to my client to help them release the past hurt and disappointment. I coach clients on shifting their mindset to muscle through their situation. Being aware of many learning needs, I have created a multi-faceted program to serve clients.

Do you find that this is easy to do even while working as a nurse? Do you meet with clients in person (pre-COVID-19)? Do you meet with them virtually now? Or via email? Please explain how it works.  

Being a night shift nurse does make it difficult to run my business full force. I have learned how to use time management to make it work. I use multiple platforms to share my information including my podcast and my talk show Activities of Daily Living. I started my business pre-COVID-19. I pivoted to offer online coaching, which was actually great. It expanded the number of people I could reach nationally.

It is very rewarding knowing the most difficult hardships in my life is now used to inspire others to create a magnificent shift in their life if they are willing and ready. I offer personal sessions via the phone or Zoom calls. I have group masterminds to educate on mental health topics to help clients understand what they are experiencing. I do not meet with anyone in person at this time, but I will be happy when I am able to meet face to face.

What do you like most about working as a Mental Fitness Coach?

If you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life. As I embraced my purpose, I realize this is something I was doing for free for friends and coworkers. I did not mind doing it for free, but I realized I could help others make a difference in their life on a larger scale. I love to see the spark that happens in a client when they gain back the power of controlling their mindset and feelings once they understand it is a choice.

What are your biggest challenges as a Mental Fitness Coach? What are your greatest rewards as one?

The greatest challenge for being a Mental Fitness Coach would be becoming so emotionally involved with the client’s situation. You wish you could just snap your fingers and help them. Another difficult part is wanting the healing more than they do. I know it may sound weird, but sometimes clients want to make a change in their life, but they do not always understand they are the leading factor that makes the change.

My greatest reward is when I serve my purpose and help another woman understand the power they hold to make a difference in their life. I give them the tools they need to genuinely love again, smile, and to treat themselves better than ever.

How Can We Remedy Discrimination in Health Care?

How Can We Remedy Discrimination in Health Care?

Despite it being 2021, we just can’t seem to fully rid the world of racism and discrimination. There are very few people who can confidently say their skin color, ethnic background, social status, sexual orientation, or other defining factor hasn’t impeded their professional or personal progression in some way. It’s unfortunate discrimination finds a home in industries we should all feel equally safe in such as health care.

Discrimination based on social status, occupation, ethnicity, race, gender, and so forth make victims out of so many people each year in the health care industry. We’ve all been asked to sign the form acknowledging that we understand we have a right to adequate care and treatment no what in any health care facility. Even with this understanding among patients and workers alike, many of these facilities still have discrimination stories for days if walls could talk and more victims felt confident in speaking out against unfair treatment.

We need to prioritize obtaining insight on discrimination in health care and forge a path forward that creates a just health care system that prides itself on honoring our cultural differences, personal perspectives, and individual needs. Here are 4 ways we can remedy discrimination in health care. 

1. Representation Across All Positions 

We should all feel like we have at least one ally in our health care facilities. Those allies are often chosen based on the similarities you have with various patients. There should be adequate representation across all positions in your health care facility.

The health care industry not only faces discrimination issues based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and social status, discrimination based on shape, size, and weight is also a prominent issue. This is why it’s increasingly important to have every race, social status, gender identity, ethnicity, body type, and so forth represented across all positions in every health care facility to ensure every patient feels supported, comforted, and cared for.

The Derm Review furthers this point by stating: “Opening the door to usher in a diverse team offers more than just innovation for successful product creation, but also brings an element of authenticity, which is critical as trust waivers among consumers who question historical body and beauty standards that they cannot relate to — and no longer wish to aspire to.”

2. Adequate Diversity Training

In the wake of the widespread social unrest of 2020, bias within the health care system was further highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Adequate diversity training may be necessary to ensure you aren’t participating in any behaviors or activities that could be deemed discriminatory.

This global pandemic revealed just how disproportionately affected Black and Brown people are when it comes to health care treatment itself. A telling example of this would be how African Americans account for 32% of the population in Louisiana but 70% of COVID-19 deaths. We have to consider that the reason for this racial gap in fatalities is due to a disconnect in the quality of care African Americans receive.

It’s important to prioritize attending every diversity training if at all possible. Diverse backgrounds mean diverse needs, fears, experiences, and expectations. Be fully present and interactive in these meetings. Take an interest in the differences you, your coworkers, and your patients possess and leverage them to better the health care experience in your facility.

3. Lead with Empathy and Understanding

You should display a special level of empathy and understanding when working in the health care industry. In interacting with a diverse group of patients, you must be privy to the cultural, emotional, and physical factors that could affect a patient’s health care experience.

Empathy and understanding build trust. And trust is especially important in the health care industry. If patients don’t trust you, they’re less likely to allow you to do your job at the highest level. They’ll be resistant to routine activities, potentially question your every move, and make the interaction rockier than it needs to be.

As you lead with empathy and understanding in every action, your patient will be encouraged to do the same. Eliminating discrimination in health care is dependent on the changed behavior of professionals AND patients.

4. Take Advantage of Health and Well-Being Resources

Surprisingly, most health care facilities lack in supporting their employees adequately with accessible health and well-being resources. It’s so important that you’re fresh, confident, and constantly bettering your being. If your facility offers health and well-being resources, take advantage of them or offer to put some together should time and scheduling permit.

You must take care of yourself just as well as you take care of your patients. If you’re not prioritizing your mental health, physical wellness, and emotional strength, it will be hard to offer a solid health care experience to your patients. Absenteeism and/or presenteeism will compromise your productivity.

Invest in self-care. Utilize mental health resources like counseling and support groups. Ensure you aren’t overwhelmed emotionally or physically. If you don’t feel good, you won’t be able to perform adequately at work, so take care of yourself.

The fact that discrimination occurs anywhere, especially within health care, is disheartening and disappointing despite increased efforts to remedy its existence. You can help fight discrimination in health care by prioritizing self-care, leading with empathy and understanding in every action, being fully present in diversity training, and advocating for representation across all positions.

New Grad? Here are Some Pro Tips for Writing an Entry-Level Nursing Resume

New Grad? Here are Some Pro Tips for Writing an Entry-Level Nursing Resume

The last semester of nursing school is undeniably intense. You have a lot on your plate, from clinicals to licensing to finishing up any assignments you have. Now, it’s time to add yet another task to your list! You have to start thinking about post-graduation employment. You’ve worked hard in school, you have the skills.

The key to your success is communicating those skills in your entry-level student resume. Keep reading to get help with that as we break down the anatomy of the perfect nursing resume for new nurses.

The Objective or Professional Summary

This will be the opening portion of your resume. Your goals here should be as follows:

  • Introducing yourself.
  • Sharing your key qualifications.
  • Briefly detailing what you bring to the team.
  • Providing a brief summation of your goals

Here’s an example:

Registered nurse and recent graduate with more than 1000 hours of clinical experience. Seeking a full-time position in the Emergency Room or Critical Care Unit at a hospital in the DFW metro area. Familiar with ER protocols and working in high-pressure situations.

Skills and Certification

Since you don’t have a significant amount of work experience, draw focus to your capabilities first. Create a bulleted list of your best skills that you are most likely to use on a daily basis in your new job. You may also consider any specialized abilities that might make you particularly valuable to the hospital, clinic, or office to which you are applying. Your list might look something like this:

  • Intubation
  • Catheterization
  • Blood Draws
  • Bedside Monitoring
  • Triage
  • Respiratory System Assessment
  • Cardiac Monitoring
  • Neurological System Assessment

You’ll also wish to place a list of your licenses and certifications near the top of your resume. This will ensure that the person reviewing your qualifications knows that you have everything you need to begin working. It is okay to include any licenses or certifications that are pending, as long as you will be obtaining them in the reasonable future.


At this point, you have gained your most important skills and experience as a student. Because of this, you should consider placing your educational history after your list of skills. On the other hand, if you do have relevant medical experience in your employment history, list that first, then your education.

Wherever you list your educational history, list your most recent school first. Presumably, this will be your nursing program. Be sure to include the following:

  • Name of The School
  • Program
  • Graduation Date
  • GPA
  • Any Special Designations or Honors

Clinical Experience

You may not have a deep employment history, but you have worked hard to gain hundreds if not thousands of hours of clinical experience. This has given you relevant, real-world experience in hospital settings, helping real patients. That’s why your student nursing resume should include a special section for clinical experience.

Keep things simple here. List the name of the hospital, department, and the term in which you completed that clinical. Try something like the following:

Obstetrics        St. Louis University Hospital, St. Louis, MO              Spring 2020

Psychiatry       Westside Medical Center, Provo, UT                         Fall 2020

Employment History

You should always be honest about your work history. However, you can be forthcoming while also carefully curating the information you provide about your experience. As listed in each job, and the duties you performed, focus on the tasks that helped you to develop skills that will be relevant in your work as a nurse. These include:

  • Customer Service
  • Time Management
  • Dealing With Conflict
  • Handling Crises
  • Computer Skills
  • Organization
  • Record-Keeping
  • Remembering And Following Strict Protocols

Of course, if you have any sort of healthcare experience, you should emphasize that.

Should you include your entire employment history? That depends. If you are in your early twenties and have been employed for only a few years, list any job you have had. If you are older and have significant work experience, you can eliminate unrelated jobs from high school or college.

Final Thoughts: Remember The Extras

Nothing is more important than the content of your resume. Hopefully, you have started in the right direction, thanks to the tips above. Now, take a look at the following tips that will take a passable resume and make it truly noteworthy:

  • Use the job listing to determine which skills to emphasize.
  • Unless otherwise specified, offer your resume in PDF format to retain formatting.
  • Make your resume readable by using plenty of white space, bold print, headings, bulleted lists, and font that is easy on the eyes.
  • Don’t forget to include a personalized cover letter.

Follow these tips, and you will have a resume that reflects the quality and attention to detail you will bring to any nursing position.

Nurses: Meet VA Recruiters at Monthly Virtual Open Houses

Nurses: Meet VA Recruiters at Monthly Virtual Open Houses

Looking to meet with a VA recruiter? Forget the crowded conferences – VA is making it easier to connect with one by taking the traditional job fair online with a virtual open house.

Starting this month, we’re launching a new series of virtual open houses aimed at connecting doctors, nurses, and job seekers in other critically needed occupations with a VA recruiter. (And in May, there will be a special open house just for nurses!). The series will be hosted every fourth Wednesday of the month from 2-3 p.m. ET.

Registration is now live for the Feb. 24 event, and future registration links will be available on the VA Careers website.

In addition to doctors and nurses, each month will offer a specialty booth focused on a specific field:

  • February: Psychology.
  • March: Physicians, social work.
  • April: Medical support assistants, medical technologists.
  • May: Nurses, practical nurses.
  • June: Medical records technicians.
  • July: Police.
  • August: Engineers.
  • September: Medical instrument technicians.

These occupations are being highlighted as part of VHA’s 75th anniversary celebration, recognizing decades of providing high quality health care to millions of the nation’s Veterans.

What to expect

Like a traditional job fair, these virtual open houses bring together employers and job seekers for a set period of time on a particular date. But instead of face-to-face meetings, you’ll connect via chat.

You’ll be able to upload your resume when you register and then participate in a brief, web-based chat with a recruiter, who will answer basic questions about working at VA and how to apply for open positions.

“This is a great chance for interested candidates to chat with recruiters who understand the process behind getting hired at VA,” said Mike Owens, recruitment marketing program specialist at VA.

To make the most of your time with a recruiter, make sure you prepare your questions ahead of time.

You should use a smartphone, tablet or computer with a reliable internet or wireless connection to connect. Our virtual career fairs are compatible with all internet browsers but work best with Chrome.

If you’re considering a career caring for America’s heroes, now is a great time to get connected with one of our hiring experts.

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Time Management Advice for Nurses

Time Management Advice for Nurses

Nurses are some of the busiest people around, which makes time management that much more critical for them. If you’re a nurse looking to master time management, try implementing these 11 strategies to take control of your schedule.

  1. Create a calendar.

To get in the habit of managing your time, create a calendar that keeps track of your commitments. Put in your work shifts, appointments and anything else going on in your life. Don’t forget to account for transition time, such as getting ahead to commuting to and from your destination. Some nurses prefer a physical day planner, but this can make it hard to move events around, especially if you prefer to write in pen. You might want to explore digital calendar apps if your schedule changes a lot.

2. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.

As a nurse, you simply can’t get everything done that you would like to. As you plan out your schedule, you’ll need to be rigorous about setting your priorities. Identify what actually needs to be done, plan out blocks of time for all of those and then reassess what else is on your list. You might also need to get creative about when you get things done—for example, you might be able to get your news fix by listening to podcasts while cooking or exercising.​

3. Arrive early.

In the nursing world, early is on time and on time is late, which is why you should aim to arrive 15 minutes before your shift begins. By arriving early, we don’t mean walking into the building 15 minutes before your shift starts. We mean actually walking onto the floor, ready to work, 15 minutes before it starts. Give yourself plenty of time to change into your scrubs, put things in your locker and do whatever you need to do so that you can walk onto the floor without being rushed.

4. Think ahead.

As you gain more experience as a nurse, you’ll be able to better anticipate what tasks you need to complete and what items you’ll need to do them. Instead of making multiple trips to the supply closet back and forth, anticipate the patient’s needs and try to take all the supplies you’ll need on your initial trip. Over time, you’ll become more and more efficient at predicting what you need to do, which will free up time for other important tasks.

5. Estimate your time commitments.

A fundamental cornerstone of successful time management is being able to accurately estimate how long a task will take you to complete. Many people underestimate how much time it will take them to do something, leading to a lot of stress when they miss their self-appointed deadline. If your estimates tend to be rather inaccurate, try timing how long it takes you to do various tasks to get a better sense of how long it actually takes you.

6. Plan for the unexpected.

While creating a schedule and sticking to it is important, surprises will happen that disrupt your calendar. Make sure that you have some wiggle room in your schedule that can accommodate unforeseen circumstances like traffic jams and coffee spills. If you schedule everything back to back, with hardly a minute of cushion, you will end up being late unless everything goes perfectly—and as we all know, life rarely goes perfectly, so you shouldn’t depend on that to be on time.

7. Learn to say no.

You know that you can’t do everything. So why do you keep saying “yes” every time someone asks you to do a task? Practice turning down requests that you really can’t add to your plate. This may be a little bit tricky at work, especially if you’re new and less experienced, but you can practice it in other areas of your life, such as family and social commitments.

8. Get organized.

We’ve all wasted time looking for our last clean pair of scrubs or our missing Bluetooth stethoscope, but some of us do it much more often than others. If you constantly spend your time trying to find missing items or make sense of your chaotic schedule, it might be time to reorganize your life. Get rid of unnecessary clutter, give everything else an assigned space and do your best to put every item back where it goes when you’re done using it.

9. Practice delegating.

If a task is essential but doesn’t have to be done by you specifically, see if you can delegate it to someone else. When you’re early in your career, you might not have reports that you can delegate to someone else at work, but there might be opportunities in other areas of your life. For instance, maybe your partner can help out with some of the household chores instead of you cleaning by yourself each week.

10. Reevaluate regularly.

The demands on your time will shift from month to month and possibly even week to week. Make sure that you’re regularly checking in on your calendar to ensure that it accurately reflects your various commitments. A calendar is supposed to be a dynamic document rather than a static one, which is why it’s so important to choose a format that can be edited easily when your priorities shift.

11. Take breaks.

As a nurse, it can be tempting to schedule every spare minute of your time so you’re making the most of your days off. While that may seem efficient, it’s a sure recipe for burnout. Resist the urge and make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to rest and recuperate. Having to take a bunch of time off because you overworked yourself into an illness is sort of the opposite of smart time management.

If you feel like your schedule runs you rather than the other way around, it’s time to take back control. Follow these 11 tips to master time management for nurses.

Employees Help Make the VA a Leading Innovative Healthcare Workplace

Employees Help Make the VA a Leading Innovative Healthcare Workplace

Innovation is essential to delivering modern, high-quality health care. Embracing new technologies and exploring groundbreaking techniques is not only encouraged at VA — it’s celebrated.

Take a look at 3D printing, a relatively new technology with a myriad of applications to health care.

Back in 2017, we were an early adopter of 3D printing, establishing an integrated virtual printing network for creating hand and foot orthotics, replicating organs and planning surgeries. The network has now grown to 40 hospitals across the country.

“This 3D printing technology is all about empowering our frontline staff and patients to advocate for what they need and then to build it,” said Beth Ripley, MD, Ph.D., director of VHA’s 3D Printing Network and chair of the 3D Printing Advisory Committee.

VA pushed even further in 2020. The department can now print medical devices onsite, allowing us to deliver more efficient, personalized care to Veterans.

We were also able to rise to several challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to develop a 3D-printed nasopharyngeal swab and creating face mask design challenges to address problems encountered by health care workers and first responders.

How was this quick action possible? Because, according to Ripley, VA culture is “non-siloed, integrated and collaborative.”

Innovation 2020

We don’t innovate from the top down. We encourage our employees, at all levels of the organization, to be part of the process.

Through Innovation Ecosystem programs, over 25,000 of our employees have received training, engaged in innovation competitions or led implementation of promising new practices. We’ve positively impacted the lives of more than one million Veterans and saved $40 million since 2015.

Changes don’t have to be solely made on a large scale. Small, local changes can have an equally big impact on the quality of care we’re able to deliver to more than 9 million Veterans across the nation.

Some innovations inspired by our employees in 2020 include:

  • A device that dispenses only one eye drop at a time, helping Veterans who struggle with reduced vision and manual dexterity.
  • A 10-week health education group to address health care disparity for LGBTQ+ Veterans.
  • A software system that helps reduce six- to 12-month wait times for prosthetics.
  • Virtual reality therapy to help Veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Wearable sensors to help improve COVID-19 patient outcomes as well as readmissions for heart failure.
  • Augmented reality microscopes that leverage artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning models to detect and classify cancers.

“The status quo is not enough — if we continue to do what we have always done, we will get the results we have always gotten,” reads the VHA State of Innovation Report.

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We are always looking for clinical and non-clinical professionals who want to be part of this culture of change and improvement. Discover if a career at VA is right for you.

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