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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?



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 ( and the International Coach Federation ( 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 ( if you’re interested in self-employment.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’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 and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.


  1. Hi Donna,

    To add on to the comments and questions above, do you know anymore for RN’s in Canada and Health Coaching?


  2. Jill Guercio-Niebling on

    I’ve been a critical care nurse for almost 30 years working in many different capacities. I never thought that I would ever find something as fulfilling as hat ….however several years ago I became a Certified Health Coach …and it has been one of the most fulfilling careers I’ve ever had. Teaching people Healthy Habits, watching them transform, giving them hope …many for the first time….it’s equally as fulfilling and exciting as being a nurse …..I am thrilled EVERYTIME a nurse reaches out to me and asks how they can get started on the path to Health Coaching. It’s an honor to link arms with fellow nurses.

    • Hi Jill,

      I’ve been a RN for 14 years now, I am very interested in becoming a health coach. I just don’t know how to get started. Any suggestions?

      Thanks, Heather

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