Michelle McNiff: Care Navigators Customize Your Care
Michele McNiff is on the front lines of creating a new paradigm for health care.
As the first nurse Care Navigator hired by the California Schools Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (VEBA) Resource Center, McNiff is using her extensive background as a holistic registered nurse, integrative nurse coach, registered yoga instructor, healing and touch practitioner, and natural chef to help VEBA members become well-educated advocates for their well-being.
“What’s different is the way we’re forming a relationship with our members to
McNiff and Care Navigators like her are trained to listen to VEBA members and help them explore the relationship between their health and their history and experiences. Most health care systems are designed for efficiencies, which does not provide their members with the environment or the resources needed to share the issues most pressing in their lives. At the VRC, we look at chronic disease more often as the symptom of greater underlying challenges, as opposed to the singular challenge to solve.
Because everyone’s health care journey is unique, our Care Navigators help VEBA members find the resources that make sense for them.
McNiff couldn’t be more suited for the job.
The daughter of an Air Force pilot, McNiff spent three years as a cardiac care and critical care nurse at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C., before transitioning to become a traveling nurse flying around the country, filling in at hospitals short on staff. Her 15 years as a traveling Cardiac Cath Lab and ER nurse was followed by six years in the San Francisco Bay Area at Kaiser and at Stanford University, the latter as a practitioner of Healing Touch – a relaxing, nurturing energy therapy that uses gentle touch to assist in balancing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
McNiff is now completing her master’s degree program in advanced holistic nursing from Florida Atlantic University.
Why nursing? “You connect with people and care for them on an intimate level,” she said. “You are helping people heal.”
When VEBA launched its wellness and holistic care program, McNiff was a natural fit.
“VEBA is on the cutting edge. They’re empowering people to get their health back by connecting them with the resources to fit their needs. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We are all about client-centered goals.”