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Is there a market for RNs working as health coaches? Is an MSN or certification required to work in this field?

Friday March 21, 2014
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Dear Donna,

I’d like to know what you think about nurses becoming health coaches. Is there a market for that? I have a BSN, but do I need a master’s degree or is certification required? I am desperate to do something different than the work I do.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Desperate,

Health coaching is a hot and growing specialty in nursing. It offers opportunities to be both employed and self-employed. With the health delivery system in the U.S. shifting from a sickness model to a wellness model and with so many people having a chronic illness that could benefit from the input of a health coach, you’ll be on the cutting edge.

Although you may not see it, as an RN you already are a wellness coach. No further degrees or certifications are necessary. Nurses have a tendency to undervalue what we already know and do, and we often think we need more training, education or certifications. Also understand that just because someone offers a certification program in something doesn’t mean it is required to practice. Contact both the American Holistic Nurses Association (www.ahna.org) and the International Coach Federation (www.coachfederation.org) for additional resources and to start networking with others doing something similar.

Insurance companies and corporate wellness companies hire nurses to do wellness coaching. Many nurses also do this on their own as a business. Check in with the National Nurses in Business Association (www.nnba.net) if you’re interested in self-employment.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www. Nurse.com/Events.