Interview with The Essential Nurse: Joyce Harrell RN

Joyce Harrell RN

Compassion Fatigue or Nurse Burnout has become a hot topic among nurses and the public. As nurses, we now realize that taking care of others at the expense of our own health can contribute to Nurse Burnout. The public wonders if Nurse Burnout is affecting the quality of patient care.

Indeed, Medicare now ties their payment to a hospital’s patient satisfaction scores. Hospitals are forced to consider the possibility that Nurse Burnout is affecting their patient satisfaction scores. At the same time, our society’s awareness of the importance of preventative health and wellness is expanding.

The result is a entrepreneurial opportunity for nurses with a passion for health and wellness to educate the public on how to achieve increased health. Also, the correlation between a nurse’s personal health and burnout prevention can prompt nurses to seek help. While most nurses know the basics of health and wellness, some nurses have specialty knowledge that can assist other nurses in achieving their optimal health which can be a factor in preventing Nurse Burnout.

One of the specialties of The Essential Nurse Joyce Harrell is essential oils. She educates the public and nurses about the benefits of essential oils. Joyce also assists entrepreneurial minded people with a  passion for essential oils in business building.

Her advice to beginning nurse entrepreneurs is “Don’t start a business because someone comes to you with a business plan for a product or business THEY have a passion for. Find your passion and DO IT!”

When did you start your essential oils business?

That is a loaded question! My journey with essential oils began about 16 years ago. I started making soap, and had read about essential oils. I understood there was a difference between synthetic fragrance oils, and essential oils that actually came from real plants, flowers, bark, or citrus peel. I started using essential oils in my soaps, although I ordered the most inexpensive I could find, and I didn’t use any artificial coloring’s in my soap.

I experienced my first essential oils/aromatherapy class 7 years ago. I learned at that time the difference between a pure therapeutic essential oil, and cheaper oils and fragrance oils. Something “went off” inside my head like a light bulb. Using essential oils for all types of issues suddenly made sense to me. Results were often times instant.

For example, using something as simple as peppermint and lavender essential oil (just a couple of drops needed) and rubbed on my forehead, temple and back of the neck would relieve a headache in about 60 seconds.

(I don’t diagnose, treat, or prescribe) I don’t use medical diagnosis and decide what essential oil would help; but I use educational and historical resources which talk about benefits of oils, and what oils support and promote wellness in different areas.

Using the information I had obtained 7 years ago… I opened up an Aromatherapy Bar inside a health food store. I worked as a nurse on the weekends, and ran the Aromatherapy Bar during the week. I found at this time, people were not as receptive as I thought they would be, and this venture lasted only about a year.

I continued to use essential oils personally for the next several years not as a business. I did take them to work however, and used them for headaches and nurses would often come to me to see what I had in my goodie bag to help different symptoms they were experiencing.

I also used them extensively to help guard my lungs and own immune system as you know we are exposed to so many germs in the hospital setting.

I began traveling a few years ago as a nurse educator for a pharmaceutical company. I found the essential oils helped me as I traveled and was exposed to allergens. I created sprays to help with hotel germs. (I sprayed sheets and pillows).

At this time in 2011, I was heavily involved in experiencing business coaching to help with a health coaching business I was also trying to start. It was through this business coaching that I realized the type of health coaching business I was trying to have was really not true to my real passion.

During a green-smoothie fasting yoga retreat in 2011, I realized that to really be true to me… It was time to concentrate on the healing power of essential oils. I knew they worked.

So, I then researched to find the oils that most closely aligned with my philosophy of obtaining oils from the country where they are most therapeutically grown. I was no longer looking for the cheapest oils… but the best.

Hence, was born. I’ve expanded to learning more about herbal simple and even creating my own herbal infusions to create healing salves and infusions.

Do you think our culture is more receptive to idea of homeopathic wellness than a decade ago? If so, why?

I certainly do. The atmosphere even in my local area was so closed to the idea of essential oils even 7 years ago. Now that I have re-emerged with education on essential oils, even the area where I live is booming with interest.

I have other people that I have now educated locally on essential oils and they are now holding classes. I actually have people all across the United States who are educating others on the properties of essential oils.

One reason is I believe people are tired of taking medications with so many side effects. People are regaining interest in the healing habits and knowledge of our forefathers/mothers and are looking to the earth for more answers.

When I can use lavender/peppermint essential oil to relieve the common headache (remember I’m not advising people to avoid medical care…Some symptoms such as headaches can be symptoms of more serious situations) and I avoid tylenol which can cause liver toxicity, or aspirin or motrin which can create stomach issues…I would rather go natural.

Many people are starting to have the same thoughts. When I can take a lavender bath instead of turning to xanax, for me that is the better choice.

People are also tired of toxic chemicals. You can make your own non-toxic cleaning products and take advantage of the antibacterial properties of essential oils for disinfecting!

There are some essential oils which have anti-viral properties such as clove and cinnamon. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. I use the antiviral oils during flu and cold season. I make sprays to wipe down surfaces to rid my home of germs during this time as well.

Have you seen the YouTube video about Vanderbilt University utilizing essential oils in their Adult ER to promote a more relaxing work environment?

I have definitely seen the YouTube video about Vanderbilt University utilizing essential oils in their adult ER. As a matter of fact, I happen to use the essential oils brand that was used in the study. do TERRA essential oils. do TERRA passed all my strict questions as I was researching what company I wanted to get my oils from!

Have you heard of, or experienced, another situation where a medical facility embraced a holistic approach such as in the previous example?

When my daughter was in labor with her son, I was given permission by her doctor to create blends to use during her labor. I created one blend for her contractions, and one blend for relaxation. I’ve just started working back at this hospital in the past few weeks.

I’m planning on exploring the use of oils in that area. I am also hearing that the surgical suite uses oils for nausea after surgery. I’m very impressed to know that. My plan is to approach our corporate hospital to see about using oils in their ED’s.

I have plans to approach local hospices about using essential oils in their hospice programs. I use certain relaxing oils like lavender and a blend called Aroma touch which would be very useful to hospice programs.

One way oils could be used in a hospice program would give the caregiver a feeling of “doing something” as they rub the feet of their loved one with something like lavender. The only limit I see for going forward to share oils with health institutions would be any limit of my own creativity.

I’ve been through 3 Wellness Coaching programs in 2010 and 2011. I’m also an Oncology Certified Nurse. I have plans to introduce essential oils to cancer survivor ship programs. I have recently made a job change.

This change will allow me the time and opportunity to blog more and educate more! I’m combining my knowledge of essential oils into the Wellness Coaching programs I’m developing for nurses. As overwhelmed as nurses are these days, essential oils fit very well into a self-care plan for nurses. (and other caregivers)

I blog and educate on 2 sites. The Essential Nurse is my main site for educating on essential oils and whole health wellness.

I blog on Nurses On The Edge primarily for nurses. It is my heart to share wellness and self-care with nurses. We as nurses care for everyone else before ourselves. I use an essential oil blend from do TERRA called Balance.

I can’t begin to describe how grounding that blend has been for me personally. I diffuse it and also wear it!  More and more attention is being brought to this subject. I’d like to see a Nurses On The Edge chapter in every major city!

What advice can you give other nurse entrepreneurs?

Find your passion and DO IT! If you have a burning passion and don’t feel prepared, then find classes or courses to help you get the knowledge you need.

If you don’t know where to start but know you want to be a nurse entrepreneur, then connect with a good coach who can help you get to the core of your passion!

Then START! Kaizen steps are small steps. So, start taking small steps toward your goals!

Don’t start a business because someone comes to you with a business plan for a product or business THEY have a passion for.

Creating a successful business isn’t about following someone else’s passion who happens to be successful. It’s about following YOUR heart. I’d be glad to help with that process if anyone is interested.

I use the Wellness Inventory Assessment and can help you explore your passions and then help you create steps toward your goals! Or there are other nurse biz coaches out there. Or, contact Top Nurse Info for help!

Remember, it’s usually not an overnight financial success. It has been for some. Most times, we start out continuing to work and start our steps on the side. (that’s what I’ve done).  But you have to START! Take that first step!

Do you have expansion plans for your business?

I certainly do! I’m looking for other nurses who are interested in using and educating others how to use essential oils! I have a rapidly expanding business and I’ve set my intention to have NURSES at the core of my business! Why?

Because many nurses are looking for more natural ways to promote prevention! Using essential oils are just such an awesome way to promote prevention and self-care! I’ve got awesome training material to help you get started!

Another thing I can help with is the actual technical part! I’ve had business coaches and classes for over 3 years now. I’ve invested in some of the best business training available! I’ve learned how to use social media, and even how to create my own website, and I teach others how to do the same!

I’m also going to be creating soap again, as well as expanding past the essential oils. I’m getting ready to take an aromatherapy/herbal program where I will be able to become a registered aromatherapist, and a master herbalist! Being a nurse-herbalist is a whole new field, although it really is an old nursing field.  It’s actually going back to our roots!

I look forward to connecting to each and every one of you that resonated with what I’ve shared! I’ve shared my heart and my passion!

Feel free to email me at or reach me at either of my websites linked above.

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