Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Gretchen spent her youth in the South and in California. She attended the University of California at Davis, where she graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. In 1985, Gretchen moved to Boston to attend the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions (MGH-IHP). She graduated in 1988 with a Master of Science degree in Nursing. During her studies, she specialized in oncology and graduated as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. From 1988 to 1993, Gretchen worked as a clinical nurse at Beth Israel Hospital (now Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital) in Boston on a 21-bed medical oncology unit including an autologous bone marrow transplant program. She embraced the “primary nursing” model, specialized in pain management, and acted as preceptor for new staff. From 1994-1995, she worked as a Hospice Nurse at Good Shepherd Community Care in Newton, MA. As a nursing care coordinator, Gretchen managed the care of terminally ill patients and their families in the home and in long term care facilities. From 1995 to 2013, Gretchen worked at Mount Auburn Hospital (MAH) in Cambridge, MA. From 1995 to 2005 she worked as a Hematology Oncology Nurse caring for patients undergoing chemotherapy, targeted therapies and other hematological treatments in the outpatient setting. From 2005 to 2013 she worked as a Radiation Oncology Nurse at MAH, working in tandem with a team of physicians, radiation therapists, and nursing colleagues to provide a full continuum of care during radiation treatment and follow-up periods.
In 1993, Gretchen discovered meditation and relaxation techniques while attending a 10-week Mind-Body Medicine program at the Mind-Body Medicine Institute (MBMI) in Boston, MA—now the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine (BHI). Recognizing the profound effects of relaxation and other meditative practices, she began incorporating these modalities into her nursing care at MAH.
In 2001 she attended MBMI’s clinical training in Mind-Body Medicine, giving her the tools to create a Mind-Body Medicine program. Subsequently, she launched the MAH Oncology Mind-Body Medicine Program in 2003. In 2010, Gretchen “passed the baton” to the department’s seasoned oncology social worker, who continues the program to this day.
During her years at MAH, Gretchen created guided imagery CDs and patient handouts, served as a meditation and relaxation resource for patients and staff, led meditations at community outreach events, and kept abreast of current literature. She has attended numerous conferences and educational programs in mind-body medicine, positive psychology, mindfulness meditation, self-care and support for healthcare practitioners, cognitive therapy, spirituality, and energy healing practices.
Her personal journey has informed her professional development and deepened her desire to share the unlimited benefits of relaxation practices. Mind-body medicine techniques serve as an integral part of her health coaching, helping clients tap into the power of inner peacefulness. By tailoring relaxation techniques to each client, she hopes to show that relaxation can easily be incorporated into everyday life, beyond the “meditation mat.”
In 2012, Gretchen became certified in Reiki levels 1 and 2 with Libby Barnett. Additional training with Elise Brenner and the regular attendance of Reiki conferences expanded her daily self-Reiki practice.
In 2004 and 2007 she was nominated for the annual Boston Works Salute to Nurses.
In 2003 she received the Rheta Foster Award, given by Mount Auburn Hospital in recognition of an individual who has endeavored to enrich and improve the life and care of cancer patients and their families.
From 1994 to 2018, Gretchen maintained certification as an Oncology Certified Nurse through the Oncology Nursing Society.
In November of 2018, she received her certificate as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). During her training at IIN, she studied with world-renowned leaders in the field of health and wellness. Her studies at IIN have provided the ideal backdrop for synthesizing Gretchen’s nursing expertise, lifelong love of nutrition, and journey with illness. She plans to continue her IIN education by pursuing advanced graduate courses in gut health, the psychology of emotional eating, and other IIN offerings.
During her years in nursing, Gretchen believed in the power of a compassion-centered practice. Embodying “healing presence” has been a guiding tenet, recognizing the sacredness of the nurse- patient relationship for well-being and comfort. She brings these philosophies into her work at Vibrant Health Integrative Nutrition.
Gretchen has lived in the Boston area since 1985. Her love of “all things food” stems from Southern roots of fried chicken, catfish, and key lime pie, extending to the fresh central California Valley cuisine and her adopted home of East Coast cooking.
Gretchen looks forward to serving the unique needs of each client and those who visit her website.