At Vera Whole Health, coaches are an integral part of care center teams, working alongside providers to create a supportive and meaningful environment. Vera whole health coaches typically meet one-on-one with members, helping them to build out practical plans for improvement that are composed of small, achievable steps. Members typically find that, with a Vera health coach at their side, they can meet health goals that might be harder for them to accomplish on their own. This extra support can have a substantial impact on their overall health and wellness.
“As a whole health coach, I have the wonderful opportunity to witness, inspire, and propel people to take their health into their own hands and help create personal health outcomes that they may not have thought were possible before.” — Shawna Bowen, Vera Whole Health Coach
What makes a health coach qualified?
As this article by Harvard Health Publishing points out, “Coaching is a relatively new field, and it is an unregulated industry, so you do not need any certification to practice as a health coach … It is strongly recommended that you choose a certified coach, to ensure that they have a certain level of training and experience.”
At Vera, we agree that training and certification are both key to ensure our health coaches possess the skills to offer their patients the best possible care. As we wrote in this recent blog post, “Without solid training or experience, a coach might inadvertently prevent their clients from reaching their goals or, in some situations, actively endanger their health.” Vera Coach Onboarding is approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) for the education and training of health and wellness coaches. NBHWC sets the training, education, and assessment standards for the industry.
As a primary care provider with approved onboarding, Vera’s program represents the highest industry standard for health coaches. And that’s a big deal, as the industry tightens the discipline, implementing more regulations to ensure minimum standards, education, and training needs are met.
“Getting approved by the National Boards really allows us to set the industry standard and be recognized within the coaching world,” says Cheridan Bryant, Director of Integrated Health & Wellness at Vera, who played an integral role in the approval process.
Education put into action
Vera’s rigorous training program requires 100+ hours of onboarding, including work with practice clients under the guidance of Vera instructors. Vera health coaches are immersed in proven behavioral change methods to help members reach their health and wellness goals.
Trainees focus on sharpening their coaching skills. Critical thinking is a key component, as is appreciative inquiry and motivational interviewing through one-on-one mentoring and group activities.
Using the Vera framework, trainees get hands-on practice creating coaching plans in a clinical healthcare setting, and they are required to stay current on evidence-based health and wellness topics. This allows them to gain confidence in their coaching and sets them up for success.
“Mentoring is key,” says Bryant about the program. “Somebody is there mentoring them to help them enhance their coaching skills, support their growth at Vera, and equip them with the tools they need to pass the National Boards exam.”
What does this mean for Vera Whole Health coaches?
All Vera health coaches have always had to be certified either at the time of hire or within 18 months of coming to Vera. (To even be considered for employment at Vera, prospective coaches must have some sort of formal training and submit an audio recording of a coaching session to demonstrate their core coaching skills). All coaches must also complete our immersive, four-month onboarding program upon hire. Now, they can use this training to qualify to sit for the National Coaching Boards — and achieve National Board Certification. Vera is also an approved Continuing Education provider for the NBHWC. This means those who join Vera already NBC-HWC credentialed can earn Continuing Education credits to apply toward their recertification after completing the training.
“What makes us unique is that we hire certified coaches, and then we further train them. For other programs, students are paying to be taught to coach. We are actually paying our coaches to enhance their coaching skills,” says Bryant.
The impact to Vera care centers and members
This training and certification process empowers coaches in their professional lives and gives them the credit and credibility they deserve.
Members can have confidence in their Vera health coaches, knowing that they are qualified at the National Board level. Providers know that, when they partner with the health coaches at their care center, those coaches have met stringent requirements. This builds an exceptional level of trust within Vera teams.
“This certification allows us to be recognized within the coaching world,” says Bryant. “It helps providers understand that coaching is an actual industry, and our coaches are at the top of it.”
But Vera health coaches also receive support beyond training and certification. They’re viewed as integral members of each care team and, while their days frequently evolve to meet changing needs, their schedule allows time to meet with members, coordinate care with providers and complete the necessary documentation. This allows for a team approach and the ability to support members in meeting their goals.
Vera health coaches play an integral role on our primary care teams, guiding patients to achieve lasting behavior change.