MSN, RN, AHN-BC, HWNC-BC
RN Patient Advocate
Holistic Transitions Coach
Karen has been working in nursing and healthcare since 1975; beginning as a Staff Nurse, growing through multiple positions as Director/Administrator, and culminating at the level of Director of Acute Care Services and the Healing Arts Program at Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, NC. She is currently serving as Adjunct Nursing Faculty at South College in Asheville, NC, an Instructor for the NC Board of Nursing, Faculty Assistant for Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy, as well as speaker and lecturer at many other venues.
Having been born with a gift for understanding and navigating through darkness, Karen is able to, and has a deep passion for supporting others as they deal with crises and life challenges. A nurse is in this position when the demands of work and life become overwhelming. A patient or their family faces this when in pain and can’t, or doesn’t know how to, get the care they need.
As a Holistic Transitions Coach to Nurses, she understands and has deep compassion for the challenges of offering support to patients in crisis while dealing with the undervaluation of nursing and walking through your own life challenges. Her approach to coaching involves helping you understand the connection between mind, body, spirit and emotions to awaken the best of Who You Are and to help you step into the signature of your own soul.
“I am stepping into the signature of my soul by working as an RN Patient Advocate and a Holistic Transitions Coach.”
As the oldest of five children, I grew up in an abusive and chaotic household. My alcoholic father physically abused my mother. When he beat her while she was lying on the floor, my sisters and I would encircle my mother on the floor screaming and crying as loud as we could to make him stop. My father left the household when I was 13 and never paid child support leaving my mother, who was also a nurse, to care for 5 children at home by herself. We were evicted from apartments, and rental houses, sometimes with no electricity or water. When I was 17 and a senior in high school, my mother started having auditory hallucinations and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was arrested, placed in handcuffs, and admitted to a state mental hospital and all five children were sent to live in separate homes with other family members. On some deep intuitive level, I knew that the only way out of this chaos was to go to college.
Friends and family helpers started appearing in my life to help me, an overwhelmed, frightened and anxious teenager, gain admission to our local university. I flunked out of college in my sophomore year and got a job working full-time and then part-time, at the university library doing a variety of jobs including typing thousands of book library cards for the card catalog, assisting reference librarians, and circulation staff to help hundreds of students check out and return books. While in college, my sister, Anne, was also diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and I had to work with she and my mother during their chronic readmissions to psychiatric facilities because they did not take their anti-psychotic medications. I graduated from Nursing school after 6 years of college. I was without a car during the entire time I was a student. I had to continually ask friends and fellow students, helpers, for rides to and from my clinical nursing rotations. I rode my bike to and from school every day except for clinical rotations.
Were it not for the extreme kindness of friends, family, strangers, my helpers, I would have never graduated from Old Dominion University with a BS degree in Nursing. These early chaotic life experiences shaped and underpinned my dream and decision to own my own business as a full-time Holistic RN Patient Advocate helping patients and families navigate our dysfunctional, silo-driven, technologically impossible, fearful healthcare environment. It is my great spiritual work to be a helper to those who are frightened, overwhelmed and anxious when using the healthcare system.
In 1975, I began my nursing career as a Staff Nurse on a 40-bed Medical floor, with a 4-bed Stepdown Unit, at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond, VA. In 1977, I was promoted to an Assistant Head Nurse in an 8-bed Medical Intensive care Unit also at the Medical College of Virginia. In 1980, I worked as a part-time Staff Nurse in the Critical Care Float Pool at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC, while attending grad school. In 1982, I started my management career as Head Nurse of an 8-bed Medical Intensive Care Unit at the VA Medical Center, in Durham, NC., and then transferred to the Medical Intensive Care Unit as a Staff Nurse at Duke University Hospital in 1983. In 1984, I moved to Charlottesville to become the Head Nurse of a 16-bed Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Virginia Hospital. From 1985 to 1986, I served as the Administrative Coordinator of the Neurology Special Care Unit and General Neurology Unit also at the University of Virginia Hospital.
In 1986 I moved to the Asheville region and I began my almost 35 year track record of serving the Western North Carolina community in a wide variety of healthcare capacities. I held all of the following positions between 1986 and the present:
In 2006 I began to work more frequently in the world of education and coaching. This was a way to take all of my nursing experience and help work to make the healthcare system more compassionate, effective, and successful for healthcare professions and patients. I serve and served as:
In the past, I have been honored with the following distinguished awards: