How To Become a Nurse Coach


I’m sure you have heard of various types of coaching careers nowadays. You may even know someone who is a coach. Maybe they are a life coach or a health and wellness coach. So, what does coaching have to do with nursing? 
 

 
 
Do you know as a nurse there is a form of coaching that can set you apart from the rest? There is a little-known but increasingly popular specialty area of nursing known as nurse coaching.  In fact, there are two nationally recognized certifications available to RNs in nurse coaching. 
 
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What Is Nurse Coaching

According to published studies, “Professional nurse coaching is a skilled, purposeful, results-oriented, and structured relationship-centered interaction with clients provided by registered nurses for the purpose of promoting achievement of client goals, first establishing a co-creative partnership with the client where the client is the expert and then by identifying the client’s priorities and areas for change to accomplish achievement of client goals.” 
 
In a nutshell, a nurse coach works with a client from a holistic approach to promote health and wellness while helping the client reach a specific goal. The client is considered the expert when it comes to their needs. The nurse coach focuses on the client’s strengths as opposed to their weaknesses and provides support and resources throughout the coaching contract.

Certifications Are Offered

Currently, the American Holistic Nursing Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC) offers two types of nurse coaching certifications:

  • NC-BC – Nurse Coach Board Certified
  • HWNC-BC – Health and Wellness Nurse Coach Board Certified  
     

To apply and qualify for the HWNC-BC credential, you must be a certified nurse coach AND a certified holistic nurse. 
 
Exam Requirements
  
To sit for the certification exam, you must first apply to the AHNCC and be approved to test. The exam requirements are a little different depending on the highest nursing degree you currently hold.  

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN): You must have worked full-time for a minimum of 2 years OR part-time over the past 5 years for a total of 4,000 hours.
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): You must have worked full-time for 4 years OR part-time within the past 7 years for a total of 8,000 hours.
  • International Degree in Nursing: The AHNCC will review international degrees to determine their equivalency to United States (US) nursing programs.
  • All Nurses: You must have an active and unrestricted license in the US. Your degree also must come from an accredited academic institution or be evaluated by the AHNCC if an international degree.

A minimum of 60 CNEs over the past 3 years is necessary. CNEs must be relevant to Nurse Coach Core Values and Nurse Coach Competencies. Academic credits must be a grade “C” or better or “pass” if the credit is pass/fail. 
 
You must be mentored and/or supervised by a Certified Nurse Coach Supervisor for a total of 60 hours AND have a Validation letter from a Certified Nurse Coach. 
 
Once you have met all the above requirements and attested to the AHNCC Candidate’s Agreement, you can submit your application and await approval for testing. 
 
You can find the above requirements at: https://www.ahncc.org/certification/holistic-nurse-coach/

The Future of Nurse Coaching

As of July 1, 2022, nurse coaching now has its own Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Category code. It is now classified as a Category III code. So, what does that mean exactly? A CPT code is issued by the American Medical Association (AMA). It sets the standards for the documenting and billing of services or procedures for insurance reimbursement.  
 
A Category III code is a temporary code used for data collection to determine the efficacy of a service. Nurse coaching is not yet reimbursable by insurance, but it very well could be in the near future!  The outcome for nurse coaching is to be assigned a Category I code, which is a permanent code. It can take up to 5 years of data collection and research for a service to receive a CPT Category I code. However, when it is assigned a CPT Category I code, insurance will reimburse nurse coaches for their services.  
 
The AHNA and the AHNCC will continue recruiting nurse coaches to participate in the studies needed to prove the efficacy of nurse coaching in a continued effort to obtain a CPT Category I code in the future. 
 
How exciting is that? Imagine if you got into nurse coaching now, during its relative infancy! You could be one of the original pioneers!  
Now is the time to explore your options with nurse coaching. Be a different kind of coach! Get credentialed and be a nurse coach! 



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