Nurses as Health Coaches?

by welloffnurse welloffnurse, MSN, RN, APRN, NP (New)

Has 10 years experience.

My name is Anna and I'm a Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Entrepreneur. If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I love nurses and am super passionate about the work we do. We're an awesome freaking bunch!

Nurses as Health Coaches?

I wholeheartedly love taking care of my patients and love supporting my fellow nurses in the trenches. It's always been a "you-hold-the-***-cheek-and-I'll-wipe" kind of friendship.

But I'm also a closeted personal finance weirdo and love things like finding ways to creating passive income streams, investing in start-up companies, obsessively studying financial independence blogs for ways to increase my earnings so I can retire early, etc.

And as a former business owner (in my life before nursing!) and as an active investor & financial independence geek, one thing I can't help but notice is that, we, nurses, don't exactly do a great job of taking care of ourselves financially...and it's been driving me absolutely crazy... we deserve better!

It goes without saying that we often sacrifice our physical and mental well-being with grueling shifts and insane amounts of stress, but this whole "not taking great care of ourselves" thing goes waaaaaay deeper, and also includes not prioritizing our financial health...

Which is complete BS, because we work our tushes off and should have something to show for it at the end of the day, end of the year, and end of our careers.

But I have talked to so many nurses and nurse practitioners nearing retirement and they are terrified that they'll be working right up until the grave, because they just haven't figured out how to create the financial security they could have from this awesome profession.

For example, we nurses often completely ignore things like:

  • Having a plan in place to ensure we are debt-free ASAP
  • Building a bulletproof safety net of savings
  • Maximizing the heck out of our current income levels
  • Creating passive income streams, so we're never in financial trouble should we lose our job or get downsized, and
  • Ensuring our investments and retirement funds are working as hard for us, as we do for our patients.
  • And so much more...

So a few weeks ago, out of weirdo curiosity, I ran a survey of nurses' financial health on my own Facebook page, just to check in and see how we're doing.

The results were eye-opening... Among other interesting tidbits, I learned that, of the 55 nurses surveyed in total, 96% answered "YES" to the question, "Would you like to leverage your existing skill set to earn more money?"

In essence, that means a very statistically significant percentage of nurses answered "YES" to the question, "Would you like to not have to go back to school for a few more years, not have to take out more student loans, not have to plunge another $35-60K in debt to be able to squeeze every bit of earning potential out of the knowledge and skill set you possess right now?"

I took this resounding YES to heart.

As a reaction to the powerful response to that question, I embarked on a deep-dive research mission to discover all the ways in which we nurses (and this includes ALL nurses: LPNs, RNs, NPs, CRNAs, CNS', Nurse Educators, etc.) can leverage our existing knowledge base as patient advocates and existing skill set as health educators to earn more money right now, without the often dealing-breakingly enormous barriers that going back for another degree or post-graduate certification presents. (Trust me, I've paid over $80K in school loans in total over the course of my career! It's unbelievable.)

So after weeks of research and evaluation of the effectiveness and ease of implementing different options for nurses to earn more money (improving your resume and salary negotiation skills, obtaining more certifications, changing jobs or changing cities, travel nursing, going per diem or locums tenens and killing yourself with OT, etc.) with the comparatively little increase in actual earnings that those strategies provided, it became ridiculously apparent to me that Health Coaching provided the single greatest opportunity for nurses of all specialties and educational levels to apply the knowledge and skills we already possess right now to earn a significant side income with a relatively small investment of time, energy and resources, compared to the awesome results and outcomes we can experience with Health Coaching.

A light-bulb went off!

It hit me square in the face, that by sharing these findings, I could accomplish some serious awesomeness.

Firstly, I could make sure that instead of us hurriedly prescribing or passing pills to slap bandaids on patients' health issues, maybe, just maybe, we could also spend time working with patients to address some of the actual causes of disease: poor health habits, poor food choices, lack of nutritional knowledge, sedentarism, insane amounts of unchecked stress, lack of sleep, and the list goes on.

How great would it be to actually have time to do that??? Cuz right now, let's be real... we absolutely, positively don't...

Secondly, by connecting the nurses and NPs I love with other nurses and NPs who are currently successful health coaches, I could provide my friends and colleagues an exact step-by-step "so-easy-a-caveman-could-do-it" blueprint of how to leverage our current knowledge & skill sets to generate a great side income and begin taking much better care of your patients' health and, yourselves financially.

The 100% turnkey coaching system they use and the dead-simple curricula they teach from effectively removes the whole, "But I don't know how to be a Health Coach or grow my business" problem...

Thirdly, if you haven't picked up on it yet, there's an awesome behavioral psychology thing at work here...

If you become a Health Coach for patients, guess what else you've got to get on board doing??

Bingo! You've got to "get your own house in order" as it were, and begin taking better care of yourself, physically and mentally too!

Score again! Cuz on the whole, we really suck at self-care. Just sayin'...

Optional certification is even available through their partnership with Villanova University's College of Nursing.

Even though I already work full-time hours as an FNP, I know my patients will experience real, tangible benefits, if I am able to spend quality time with them (outside of the paltry 15-30 minutes we get allotted by Medicare et al, for patient visits), providing meaningful support to them in their health objectives.


Anna Morrison, MSN, ARNP, FNP-BC

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10 Comment(s)



1 Post

What do I need to do to become a Health Coach??



Specializes in Ambulatory Care, Rheumatology. Has 10 years experience. 129 Posts

@welloffnurse you are speaking my language! Right now I am being trained to speak to value I offer as a person as well as a health expert. So many Health Coaching programs fail to prepare students in terms of Branding, Positioning, Marketing, and Sales. Only with that foundation could I vouch for Nurses to enter the saturated Health/Wellness/Nutrition Coach Market.



Specializes in Ambulatory Care, Rheumatology. Has 10 years experience. 129 Posts

@tonleann One small step in that direction is to start looking for opportunities to demonstrate your expertise in front of an audience. This audience can be online or in person ( even better). In person speaking opportunities are VERY easy to find. Yes there are Business/ Legal structures to have in place, yet it is never too early to start publically demonstrating your expertise. If you have any questions let me know.

Edited by TheSocialMediaCoach


Has 7 years experience. 87 Posts

Yes, I do think us nurses need to take more opportunity to better care for our own wellness in addition to better educating ourselves in order to educate others. I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to do just this with my job. I work cardiac rehab, and our phase 1 program is all about going to see inpatients to educate them. No time restraints, either. It's just me and the patient talking about their health. The only current limitation, though, is that the inpatient setting is not very conducive to long-term learning. The patient also needs to develop a strong relationship with their primary care provider and other specialists to really work on their disorders and health conditions. A lot of health insurance providers also hire RN health coaches. AHNCC also has a BC in nurse coaching along with their "The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching" book. So there are opportunities out there to get more involved in educating patients on wellness and health. You just got to do your research :)



71 Posts

I was seriously considering becoming a health coach but dont know where to start. Many times nurses deal with patients who are in the hospital bc they simply do not take care of themselves. I would love to work with a population who is ready to change into healthy habits!



28 Posts

I am lucky enough to work at a hospital and in a community that values health and wellness. I am a Health Coach RN at our hospital system and serve all hospital campuses. The best part; I am the health coach for the EMPLOYEES, not the patients! I am working towards my Nurse Health Coach Certification through the National Society of Health Coaches: National Society of Health Coaches | Health Coach Certification

My job also includes completing the employee biometric screenings every year; that is not often done by an RN and it's great because we include teaching/education while we are doing the screenings. For health coaching, often this is contracted out and not done by an RN, and often done telephonically which is usually very unsuccessful.

chwcbesteph, RN

Specializes in Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula. Has 9 years experience. 1 Article; 109 Posts

Yes! I'm so glad to see this post on AllNurses. I have served as a community health worker, doula, and childbirth educator before coming into nursing, as well as being extremely rural thus forcing my business into the online space. There is a LOT to learn about branding, passive income streams, marketing, etc. and I'm lucky enough to have been able to devote a good amount of time learning how to do webinars, run a blog, and set up online courses. The public is hungry for reputable, relevant health information and nurses are in a unique position to provide that. And it's encouraging to see the healthcare industry beginning to embrace this transition to preventive health and education.

Lots of opportunities here if you're down to take them on!

Providence60, MSN, PhD, RN

1 Article; 27 Posts

Understanding the difference between coaching programs vs certification programs is critical. Coaching does not give you the ability to have an NPI number. Coaching without accurate information does not produce the changes a patient is looking for. And without patient education, the changes in health and well-being a patient is looking for simply will not happen. The only nationally accredited program I have found give you the credentials for being able to bill your services through your own NPI number is the NIWH (Whole Health Training and Education - Accredited | Holistic Health Programs). They are credentialed by the Institute of Credentialing Excellence and provide training which qualifies you for an NPI number and billing manual as well as training you to work with doctors or on your own. It has a long list of credentials and recognitions from being in business 41 years and has a program exclusively for nurses. As many have mentioned in this thread, finding expanded ways to serve and include lifestyle changes is both personally satisfying and where the healthcare field is going.



1 Post

I'm an FNP and just passed my ACE exam. What are your suggestions on seeing patients as a Health Coach outside of the clinic?