As a Disease Manager outpatient Registered Nurse (RN), much of my job was spent providing patient education to my clients. Whether it was because of a new diagnosis of hypertension, high blood pressure, prediabetes, or diabetes, clients were often referred to me by their medical provider in order to get more information about their new diagnosis. Working in conjunction with a Registered Dietitian (RD), I organized group classes in order to provide general information on the client’s diagnosis and living a healthy lifestyle. I also provided 1 on 1 counseling to those clients requiring more advanced instructions from their provider or for those who had a deep interest in making some significant lifestyle changes.
After receiving news about their newfound diagnosis, some clients were very motivated to make significant lifestyle changes to improve their overall health while others were somewhat passive or somewhere in the middle. Regardless of the client’s reaction, I soon began to realize that even the most motivated client would often “fall off the wagon” after only a few short weeks and fall back into their old habits and routines. It was because of this typical behavior that I began to ask the question, “As a nursing educator, how do I instill the need for real change within these clients and make it stick?”
While researching more on this topic, I stumbled upon a counseling technique commonly referred to as “Motivational Interviewing.” Although implementing this interviewing style into my daily practice did seem to have some benefit, there was still something that I seemed to be missing. I continued to research for more information regarding behavioral psychology and the stages of change that clients typically go through while making lifestyle changes. Eventually, I finally came across the Holy Grail program for client behavioral change and knew immediately that I wanted to pursue a Functional Medicine Health Coaching certification in order to become a better health educator and motivator for the clients that I served.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, “Functional Medicine seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms.” In other words, Functional Medicine is a holistic approach to medicine. Instead of simply prescribing a “pill for your ill,” a Functional Medicine practitioner would be more interested in discovering what is causing the illness instead of simply treating the symptoms. Although I was familiar with the Functional Medicine concept, I was not aware that there was a certification program for a Functional Medicine Health Coach.
The Functional Medicine Health Coaching certification is a 12-month long online program conducted by the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA) and is approved by the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching. The program also qualifies healthcare professionals, such as nurses, to obtain 60+ continuing educational units (CEU’s) once the program is completed. The curriculum meshes the art of coaching together with the principles of Functional Medicine, nutrition, the psychology of eating, mind-body medicine, and positive psychology.
I quickly began implementing the new strategies and information that I was learning from the Functional Medicine Health Coaching program just a few short weeks after starting the program. Slowly, over time, I did begin to see a steady improvement in overall patient outcome measures within the patient population in which our Disease Management program was targeting. With strategic targeting, consistent follow up, and the use of new health coaching strategies that I was learning throughout the Functional Medicine Health Coaching program, I did begin to see more clients making significant lifestyle changes and sticking with it. In fact, 87% of our diabetic patient population who entered our Disease Management program had an improvement in their Hemoglobin A1c, a diabetic marker for detecting overall blood sugar average, over a 6-month period. In short, signing up for the Functional Medicine Health Coaching certification program was one of the best things that I have done to improve my personal life, my personal health, and for my career.
If you are a health educator in a healthcare or wellness-related field (i.e nursing; counselor; dietitian; therapist; etc), or if you have a strong interest in becoming a health educator, then I would encourage you to take a close look a the Functional Medicine Health Coaching certification program to see if it is a good fit for you and your career. You can find the Requirements for Admission by following this link. There is also be an annual FAQ webinar with Dr. Sandra Scheinbaum where people like you can learn more about Health Coaching, hear from former students and graduates, and see what attending FMCA could be like for you.
Furthermore, if you are still uncertain whether or not you are ready to commit to such a program, then you may want to register here for a free minicourse on Functional Medicine health coaching, offered to you at no cost or obligation by Sandra Scheinbaum and Elyse Wagner – two of the key leaders in Functional Medicine coaching.
In today’s Physical and Mental Healthcare market, having a competitive edge as a Functional Medicine Health Coach can open up many new career opportunities. I no longer work as a Disease Manager RN, but I do have partnered with other Functional Medicine practitioners to provide independent coaching as a Functional Medicine Health Coach having completed my certification in early 2018. By partnering with Functional Medicine Providers that are more interested in treating the root cause of the problem and not just the symptom, you can see your clients improve their lives, not just for the moment, but for the rest of their life.
The NEXT Functional Medicine Health Coach class starts in February 2019 with a registration deadline of 26 January 2019. There is also a significant tuition discount (Seriously, over $1,000 off and free books) if you apply before 25 December 2018, so be sure to APPLY TODAY!