How To Become a Nurse Health Coach (Plus Primary Duties)

Updated June 24, 2022

Nurse health coaches are medical professionals who help patients develop their health and wellness through the impressive use of conventional and holistic treatments. If you're hoping to become a nurse health coach, it's important to understand their primary duties and the educational requirements for the role. In this article, we discuss what a nurse health coach is, what they do and how to become one.

What is a nurse health coach?

Nurse health coaches provide patients with beneficial healthcare knowledge to help them fulfill personal health goals and objectives. Nurse health coaches often help clients and patients focus on the health and wellbeing of their entire body through consultation and strategy sessions. They conduct these sessions by identifying major health concerns or challenges, assisting clients in establishing sound goals and providing them with strategies they can use to meet those objectives.

What does a nurse health coach do?

A nurse health coach is responsible for many day-to-day tasks, including:

  • Providing wellness strategies to reduce high-risk behaviors

  • Developing classes to teach clients and family members about health and wellness

  • Meeting with clients to establish wellness goals and objectives

  • Identifying health risks or concerns in clients

  • Contacting clients' healthcare providers to communicate their practices

  • Developing care and coaching plans for each client

  • Evaluating clients' progress toward their wellness goals

  • Motivating clients to continue practicing appropriate health and wellness tactics

How to become a nurse health coach

Here is a list of steps for becoming a nurse health coach:

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

Earning an undergraduate degree can help aspiring nurse health coaches learn the necessary knowledge and skills for their careers. It also helps them attract the attention of potential employers by demonstrating their occupational expertise for the role. One of the most common undergraduate degrees for nurse health coaches is a Bachelor of Science in nursing. Some colleges and universities also allow students to focus their nursing degree in nurse health coaching to help them gain an influential understanding of the profession and its duties before graduation.

The degree often takes four years of schooling, teaching students the fundamentals of a nursing career. However, individuals can also pursue an Associate of Applied Science in nursing, which only takes two years but might not provide students with the qualifications necessary to receive a nurse health coach certification.

Read more: BSN Degree: Definition and Program Types

2. Become a registered nurse

To become a registered nurse (RN), you first have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which tests the knowledge and skills you obtained during your undergraduate program. It's also important that you take the test and gain your nursing license in the state where you hope to practice your nursing occupation. The NCLEX-RN exam is an adaptive test that may have anywhere from 75 to 256 questions based on how the tester is performing. Testers have up to 6 hours to complete the exam, with scheduled breaks.

Read more: How To Become a Registered Nurse: Career Guide and Requirements

3. Gain relevant work experience

Gaining relevant work experience can allow you to become a nurse health coach more quickly by helping you develop and improve your occupational skills in a hospital or healthcare facility. During your undergraduate program, consider searching for internships or volunteer opportunities at hospitals to gain a helpful understanding of how medical organizations function.

After graduation, consider searching local healthcare facilities for entry-level nurse health coach positions that you can pursue. If none are available, working as a registered nurse can also add to your experience level and resume, allowing you to apply for a nurse health coach position again in the future.

Related: What Is Relevant Experience on a Resume?

4. Obtain health coach certification

Though some hospitals and organizations might not require a health coach certification, earning one can help you show your skills and expertise for the position and make your resume more noticeable to employers. There are two types of certifications nurse health coaches can obtain:

Nurse coach certification

The International Nurse Coach Association (INCA) offers the Integrative Nurse Coach Certificate Program, which tests an individual's ability to perform conventional methods of treating patients and clients. The association offers a two-part program that provides individuals with additional training and education to become board certified as a nurse health coach. The requirements to become board certified include:

  • An RN license

  • Two years of experience as an RN

  • A bachelor's degree in nursing

  • 60 contact hours

  • 60 hours of coaching experience

Holistic nurse coach certification

Holistic nurse coaches provide alternative treatment to patients and clients through practices, such as yoga and aromatherapy, to help patients achieve their health and wellness goals. The American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC) provides the Holistic Nurse Board Certified (HN-BC) credential, which individuals can apply for and take a quantitative examination to achieve. The requirements to pursue an HN-BC certification include:

  • An RN license

  • One year of full-time holistic nursing experience

  • 40 hours of continued nursing education in holistic nurse practices

  • Degree from a nationally accredited nursing program

Read more: What Is Holistic Nursing?

Salary for nurse health coaches

The national average salary of health coaches is $36,299 per year. However, depending on their level of experience and location of employment, some health coaches may be able to earn more. For example, the average health coach salary in Denver, Colorado, is $50,895 per year. Health coaches can also receive helpful benefits depending on their place of employment. Some of the most common benefits include a health savings account, paid time off and dental and health insurance.

Work environment for nurse health coaches

Nurse health coaches often work for insurance companies and corporations, helping their members and employees with their health and wellness. Because of this, many nurse health coaches work in an office environment where they can talk with employees and get to know them and their wellness goals individually. Working for a corporation or insurance company also provides nurse health coaches with a fairly consistent schedule, most often working Monday through Friday from nine to five.

Nurse health coaches can also start their own private practice or health coaching business, seeing private clients and helping them with their goals. Creating their own business can provide some nurse health coaches with the ability to work from home and have a flexible working schedule throughout the week. Having their own private practice can also allow nurse health coaches to focus on patients who could benefit the most from their training and education.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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