by Susan Luck RN, BS, MS, HNC, CCN • Do you believe that a new Health Coach Professional is needed to address the current health care crisis?• As a practitioner, would you be interested in working with a health coach as
• Do you believe that a new Health Coach Professional is needed to address the current health care crisis?
• As a practitioner, would you be interested in working with a health coach as part of your interdisciplinary team?
• Are there health professions that can best fill this role?
The healthcare reform bill has placed a renewed focus on wellness promotion. An important component of enacting this vision will be in developing and utilizing the skills of health and wellness coaches.
The treatment of lifestyle-related diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, make up 70% of current health care costs. The projected next economic crisis is associated with an epidemic of preventable lifestyle driven diseases. It is believed that in the future, health coaches will play a major role in improving health outcomes, and reducing the health costs to individuals, employers, insurance companies, and the nation as a whole.
A key strategy in addressing this crisis is to develop the professional role of a health and wellness coach. These coaches will work in diverse settings to facilitate and motivate individuals toward sustainable lifestyle change. Coaching skills include supporting individuals in increasing their self awareness to be able to overcome obstacles, identify priorities for health and establish meaningful, attainable and sustainable health goals. The health coach guides the process through skillful strategies for positive outcomes.
Currently, there are coach training programs that educate both professionals and non professionals from a diversity of backgrounds. The question that is currently being asked by providers, professional organizations, and health policy analysts is “what are the professional skills and training needed to assume the responsibilities required of this role?” In response to this question, a national committee, representing diverse professions, coaching leadership and existing coaching programs, has been meeting for the past year, to determine standards for coach training and certification.
At the same time, the nursing profession has taken a lead in establishing a Scope and Standards for Professional Nurse Coaching. This process is currently underway as the document is currently being reviewed by national and international nursing organizations that support the future of health and wellness coaches. The objective of this process is the establishment of Professional Nurse Coach certification as a component of an interdisciplinary vision transforming the health of our nation.
Member of the National Committee on Professional Coach Certification
Member of the Nurse Task Force on Nurse Coach Certification
Co Director, Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program