The healthcare field is in the midst of a transformation in which industry professionals at all levels recognize the need to enhance the patient experience and improve outcomes while nurturing a safe and supportive environment for healthcare workers.
It’s a tall order, and health coaching plays a vital role in the industry’s revolution. According to the American Medical Association, health coaching brings patients into the fold when creating, maintaining, and executing their care plans. Health coaches work with patients to give them the information, tools, and resources they need to live a healthy lifestyle.
The AMA notes that this physician-led, team-based approach to healthcare improves patient outcomes in every area, especially as patients look to protect and preserve their health after the global health crisis.
The Role of Health Coaches in U.S. Healthcare
Health coaches are filling a gap in the current healthcare system, often described as stressed and overburdened. With staffing shortages lingering in the wake of the pandemic, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals do not have as much time to spend with their patients. Patients are left trying to manage a growing list of healthcare needs independently, and they may feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or uninformed.
According to the AMA, health coaching is critical to implementing an integrative health and wellness strategy in a medical setting. Health coaches can work directly with patients to arm them with the information and resources they need to take responsibility for their own health.
The Playbook notes that health coaching can help achieve better patient outcomes because it improves communication within the practice, allows patients to play a central role in creating their own care plan, and allows for more frequent follow-up with patients.
Supporting Patients With Complex Conditions
Diagnosing a chronic condition or accurate illness can be life-changing for patients, leaving them feeling disheartened or frustrated. They also may feel alone — and a bit overwhelmed about all the changes they are about to endure.
Health coaches can work directly with patients to advocate for them and serve as a liaison between them and their care providers. Not only can they provide patients with an action-based care plan to address some of the symptoms of their condition or illness, but they can also work with them to provide wellness coaching to adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Ultimately, health coaches strive to help patients see that they can be in control of their own healthcare directives and their outcomes. According to Physicians Practice, health coaches can empower their patients by:
- Highlighting the benefits of a lifestyle change and showing them how that change is attainable.
- Helping them to set achievable health goals.
- Connecting them to resources and specialists who can support them on their journey toward a healthier life.
- Guiding them through their care options and giving them a voice in the final treatment plan.
- Showing them that they can take small steps to stay in control of their own health and well-being.
Benefits of Integrative Health Coaching
On the surface, integrative health coaching seems like a practice that will directly and primarily benefit the patients, but it offers comprehensive benefits for the entire medical facility. The American Medical Association states that every practice could benefit from a health coach because health coaching:
- Improves patient outcomes and promotes a healthier lifestyle among the patient population.
- Can reduce the onset of chronic conditions in patients, ultimately alleviating some of the pressure placed on the healthcare system.
- Alleviates some of the responsibilities that physicians and nurses are currently taking on, which can decrease feelings of stress and burnout while improving employee retention rates.
Cultivating Sustainable Health Changes
One of the primary roles of a health coach is to work with patients to encourage healthy habits and show them that it is possible to take control of their health and well-being. In the short term, teaching patients about proper nutrition and using positive psychology to promote behavior changes allows patients to reach weight loss goals or to feel better physically and emotionally. In the long term, however, they can grow more significant. The AMA has cited evidence that patients who receive health coaching over a long period are less likely to be diagnosed with chronic conditions later in life. By investing in health coaching now, medical facilities will realize improved patient outcomes while simultaneously alleviating some burden on the healthcare system and lowering healthcare costs.
Employee Well-Being and Productivity
The benefits of health coaching extend to employees as well. First and foremost, health coach training can help staff see themselves as a valuable part of the team. When everyone works together to support health coaching, the outcomes are better for everyone involved — from the patients and families to the physicians, nurses, and other staff members.
In addition, health coaching can create a more positive work environment for employees in corporate settings. The health coach could take responsibility for ongoing communication with patients and the additional support and training that patients may require due to their condition or diagnosis. In general, health coaches can eliminate a task that is burdensome or overwhelming for healthcare workers who are already managing a large caseload, ultimately reducing stress and burnout in the office.
Those interested in health coaching can pursue training through webinars and professional development sessions. Healthcare workers interested in becoming health coaches can complete a certificate program to take their career down this exciting path.
Path to Becoming an Integrative Health Coach
Becoming an integrative health coach begins with enrolling in a certificate program that will provide you with skills-based training and foundational knowledge. Salem University proudly offers an Integrative Health Coaching Certificate program focusing on integrative health and wellness principles while preparing you to develop and nurture long-lasting relationships with your patients.
Education and Training
The good news for those aspiring to become a health coach is that you can prepare for this career field by enrolling in a certificate program and receiving additional training. In many cases, you can start pursuing positions as a health coach within a matter of months.
The Integrative Health Coaching Certificate program is ideal for current healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, and those passionate about fitness, nutrition, and physical activity. Athletic coaches, educators, and nutritionists are all well-suited to this certificate program.
The program lasts for 16 weeks and consists of two eight-week courses completed consecutively. Once the program is complete, you will have the qualifications, experience, and knowledge necessary to begin your career as a health coach.
Holistic Coaching Skills
In addition to having a working knowledge of the healthcare industry and the best integrative health and wellness practices, a health coach should also have fine-tuned coaching skills, such as the ability to:
- Adapt quickly to the needs of the individual patient.
- Be empathetic and show compassion to patients who are struggling.
- Actively listen to patients before designing a coaching plan.
- Rely on positive psychology to encourage long-term behavior change.
Job Outlook and Opportunities
If you are interested in health coaching, you will find that you are on the precipice of significant change in the healthcare industry. The demand for health coaches is expected to rise in the coming years as more and more medical facilities, schools, and corporations look to employ health coaches as part of an integrative health and wellness strategy.
Growing Demand for Health Coaches
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for health coaches is expected to rise over the next decade. Between 2022 and 2032, it is expected that there will be approximately 4,400 health coach positions added, with an anticipated growth rate of 7 percent. Trained health coaches should be able to find employment in a place of their choosing, especially if they know how to market themselves and their expert services.
Once you have trained to become a health coach, you could find employment in a variety of settings, such as:
- Healthcare facilities — Hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices are finding that health coaches are valuable members of staff who help bridge the gap between patients and providers.
- Corporate wellness programs — These programs employ health coaches directly and often contract with medical facilities that require health coach services.
- Private practices — Health coaches with an entrepreneurial spirit may find it rewarding to work in private practice. In private practice, you would work to secure your own clients to provide health coaching services. Health coaches in private practice often work with individuals looking to enact behavior change, such as athletes who want to improve their performance and patients who need additional support as they manage a chronic condition.
Salary and Compensation
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for those in health education, coaching, and training is just under $49,000 per year. However, the position you acquire and your place of employment will ultimately determine your salary as a health coach.
Daily Responsibilities of an Integrative Health Coach
As a healthcare coach, your daily responsibilities will vary based on the clients you work with on any given day. Your responsibilities may include:
- Practicing motivational interviewing to help patients with behavior change.
- Encouraging patients to get more physical exercise. According to the CDC, adults need more than two hours per week of moderately intense exercise and two days of muscle-strengthening activities to stay fit and healthy.
- Providing patients with nutritional advice that will help them achieve weight loss goals.
- Helping patients set both short- and long-term health goals.
Become an Integrative Health Coach Today
Health coaching is an innovative way to combine your passion for patients with your expertise in healthcare. If you value a holistic approach to medicine and believe in the power of whole-body wellness, becoming an integrative health coach may be your next best step. At Salem University, we offer an Integrative Health Coaching Certificate that could prepare you to pivot your career onto this path.Request more information about our Integrative Health Coaching Certificate program today.