A TRANSFORMATIVE AND AUTHENTIC LEADER, Dr. Rachel A. Coicou, DNP, MBA ’09, MSN ‘09, RN, NEA-BC, trains healthcare professionals.
In 2015, while working as the Director of Nursing for Dignity Health in Pismo Beach, California, Dr. Coicou felt inspired by a desire to help people and started her own company, LIFE (Leading Intentionally From Excellence).
Dr. Coicou says her company’s mission is to develop leadership skills in others. “I love what I do. I don’t feel like it’s work. I go to make a difference. We help, we heal, we change lives.”
When Dr. Coicou came to HNU in the mid- 2000’s to pursue a Master’s of Nursing and Healthcare Administration, she was working as a nursing manager in acute care. “Many universities look for the best students and make it hard to get in,” she explained. “Holy Names does it differently. They create the best students.”
She recalled that her HNU education centered on the needs of the community. For instance, her instructor made sure that her students were disaster-trained according to the American Red Cross.
After HNU, Dr. Coicou earned a doctorate (DNP) in healthcare systems and executive leadership. Her studies focused on how creating a healthy work environment for healthcare staff improves patient health outcomes. “Happy nurses mean healthy patients,” she explained.
Responding to the needs of her community, Dr. Coicou soon created a church ministry to present an annual health fair, eventually attracting over 1500 people. The event offered rapid HIV testing, raised breast cancer awareness, and featured organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.
Dr. Coicou also recognizes a responsibility to the global community. She has travelled to Nicaragua to help with home health visits and to share nutrition advice. In Haiti, she taught nurses at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital.
Her advice to current HNU students? Be open to opportunity, stay focused, and be your authentic self. “Always remember why you went into nursing in the first place. In the toughest moments, you’ll have that nugget, that heart,” she stressed.