- By Kelsey Turner
The Indian Health Service (IHS) announced the launch of its National Health Coach Pilot Project, a program that provides health coach training for community and health professionals in Indian Country. Program participants will learn to use evidence-based health coaching techniques to improve patient care.
“The program aims to further advance the agency’s commitment to improving health care service delivery and enhancing critical public health services to strengthen the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said IHS Acting Deputy Director Elizabeth Fowler in a press release Tuesday.
The training, provided by the Legacy Holistic Health Institute, will help prepare participants to become board-certified health coaches by using behavior change theories, methods and practices that can be adapted across various populations. The program will also assist IHS in evaluating the integration of health coaching concepts into priority areas, including behavioral health, mental health, substance abuse, community health and diabetes efforts.
“Health and wellness coaches are experts on human behavior, motivation, and health, helping their clients set and achieve health goals and build new habits,” the press release says. “The health and wellness coaching field is an emerging discipline that champions healthy behavior changes as a means of avoiding, reducing the incidence, or lessening the effects of chronic lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.”
Led by the IHS Division of Clinical and Community Services, the pilot project includes two cohorts of 50 participants. The first cohort’s six-month training will take place from April to October 2022.
The IHS is now seeking applicants interested in becoming health coaches. Eligible participants include community and health care professionals working across tribal communities and clinical settings who provide health information and patient education to Native patients and communities. Priority will go to community health workers, community health representatives, and health educators, though other disciplines are welcomed to apply, the IHS website states. Applications for the first cohort must be submitted by March 16.
Upon completion of the pilot project in 2024, the IHS will use results and participant feedback to assess the feasibility of establishing a health and wellness coach and behavior change approach at the clinical and community levels.
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