When providers come to work at Vera, they can count on having access to a clinically integrated Vera health coach to support the care team and walk alongside patients. Whether you’re interested in becoming a health coach or you’re a provider who would like to practice the full breadth of your expertise in a patient-centered care model, keep reading.
Coaching as part of health and wellness isn’t a new idea — people work with health coaches every day to set goals, keep focused, and be held accountable for the results. At Vera, we integrate health coaches into the care team so our patients feel heard and supported as they work on positive change in their lives.
What makes a great Vera health coach?
We hire health coaches from many different backgrounds, but one thing they have in common is excellence in their core coaching skills. We look at each resume for training, certifications, and ideally some experience in a clinical environment. A quick search of the following will give you an idea of the type of candidates who do well in this role:
- Are National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches
- Are trained in appreciative inquiry
- Are trained in the Transtheoretical Model
- Have experience in motivational interviewing
- Have coached for at least one year
We find it helpful when potential health coaches come to us with some experience in healthcare, as days in the care center can be filled with rapid changes that come with meeting the needs of our patients. Lacking healthcare experience, we look carefully at their ability to adapt to and manage change in real time, as these are important skills for every Vera health coach.
Working as part of a team is at the heart of Vera’s culture. We want candidates who are excited to be on a team, because our coaches play a collaborative role in our primary care centers. And while we recognize that coaching involves one-on-one sessions with patients, others on the team have a vested interest in their outcomes. No one in the care team works alone.
Finally, we look for a strong growth mindset in coaching candidates, meaning someone who sees coaching as an ongoing learning experience and who is hungry to learn and eager to grow. When candidates demonstrate they’re open to feedback and learning new skills — that they’re available to try different things — they are more likely to be a great fit at Vera.
Training health coaches to support providers and patients
Onboarding of new health coaches at Vera begins with a three- to four-month, self-paced training period. This includes a robust program in which health coaches find one-on-one support, classroom time, and resources to assist learning at a pace that’s best for the individual. It’s worth noting that Vera’s is the first program in primary care to be approved by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching.
In the training program Vera health coaches not only learn from skillful instructors and teams, they also complete the training that makes them eligible to sit for the National Board for Health & Wellness Exam. Program content includes:
- Integrating into a primary care team
- Coaching in the Vera model
- Sharpening coaching skills
- Documenting in an Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
- Health and wellness education
The training helps health coaches develop the skills necessary to join a primary care team, and it gets them thinking about things they can do to champion their role in the care center as they integrate with providers and patients.
Team integration starts early
New health coaches are also assigned a personal mentor during the training period to help their transition into their care team, providing an extra layer of support and feedback as they grow into the Vera model.
Sometimes the provider or the patient doesn't realize that a health coach could add more value to their appointment. So we make sure our health coaches are available — not only for scheduled appointments, but also for those on-the-fly conversations to make sure we're supporting our patients and our providers.
For this reason, our in-center training includes shadowing providers both in appointments with patients and in general behind the scenes. We encourage our coaches to sit with our providers as “on call” members of the care team.
The Vera difference improves results and morale
What makes Vera so different from other healthcare providers is our recognition that trust is foundational in developing the relationship between patient and provider, and it must be earned. Vera health coaches develop trust by building empathy and rapport with providers and patients, which reverberates in positive ways throughout each care center. Health outcomes improve for patients, and care teams feel heard and supported as well.
While personal stories and statistics of provider burnout are becoming more and more prevalent, it’s reassuring to know that there are care models designed to put people above profit. Few things in the workplace feel more rewarding than seeing your daily contribution benefit the people around you — and Vera health coaches certainly fulfill that need and so much more.
Editor's Note: This is an updated version of the original post published August 11, 2021.