August 13, 2014

New health coaching certificate program to be offered this fall

Vanderbilt will offer a certificate program for health professionals to educate them in helping patients set realistic health goals and provide support in reaching them.


The Vanderbilt School of Medicine, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nursing Service and the Vanderbilt School of Nursing will sponsor a health coaching certificate program beginning in fall 2014. Health coaches partner with patients to help set realistic health goals and provide support in reaching those goals.

“Lifestyle and behavior change is an enormous factor for people dealing with chronic illness, like diabetes, heart disease and even chronic pain. We need to educate more health professionals in the health coach model so we can better help people improve their health outcomes,” Roy Elam, medical director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, said.

“This is a carefully crafted curriculum, unique because it’s designed for people who are already health professionals and can use their new knowledge to make an immediate impact,” said Linda Norman, Valere Potter Menefee Professor and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

The 28-week program is open to applicants with a degree in a health care field, such as registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, physicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists. It is offered in the convenient modified distance learning format, off-campus and asynchronous, with two on-campus intensives.

Program directors Blaire Morriss and Linda Manning will oversee the program, which begins in September and ends mid-March 2015.

“This program relies heavily on the science of behavior and behavioral change,” Manning said. “We emphasize small steps and frequent check-ins, which is impossible for most providers under the nation’s current health system.”

The course of study features 19 different education modules in areas including patient-centered approaches, behavior change and theory application, disease specific coaching, and positive psychology and mindfulness. Upon completion of the program, students are credentialed members of the health care industry who have additional training in the science of health behavior change.

“So much of the old model has been to scare or shame people into making changes, but this program offers a different model of collaboration with individuals and helps them be successful in their health goals,” Manning said.

The program offers CME credits, and an application has been submitted to the Tennessee Nurses Association for CNE credits. For more information, visit