Becoming a Certified Health and Wellness Coach

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This is my story of becoming a certified health and wellness coach over the last year.  I hope anyone interested in pursuing this exciting and rewarding career will learn the latest trends in the industry.
Over the last few years I started to research careers in the health industry.  I researched becoming an ultrasound technician, nurse, social worker, medical interpreter, and health coach.  I spent a lot of time researching and taking introductory classes/workshops  in order to find out what I was really passionate about and what may compliment my background in science and interests in health and wellness.  I also spent a great deal of time sharing ideas and thoughts with friends and family who supported me along the way.  The most important thing for me was to find and train in a career that I was going to be passionate about-and for me it was about helping people.
After considering all my different options and training requirements I chose to pursue a career as a health and wellness coach.  Once I made the decision to become a health coach I learned that there were a vast number of health and wellness coaching certificate programs with their own set of ‘admission prerequisites’.  This was by any means a comprehensive list as many others were not included but it was the best I had found after hours of research. One such program not included for example was the Wellness Coaching Training Program offered through the Mayo Clinic.  I also learned that a national certification did not exist a couple years ago but please read below for the latest information.
And because such diversity exists and new standards are being implemented I wanted to share my experience in order to help others interested in this career path.  I was also encouraged by Ron the owner of the One Hour Professor  to blog about this experience and share what it took to become certified in health and wellness.
Here’s a snapshot of the last year and a half to help give you an overview of the path I chose to take. Please keep in mind that with a background in science and work experience in small business management I needed to find the program(s) that were going to meet my specific situation.

Timeline of Events

February 2014- I obtained my BLS/CPR Certificate for health care professionals through the American Red Cross. I found my class through the American Red Crossclass finder.
May 2014-I enrolled as a student through the American Council on Exercise.  I chose the Health Coach Certificate online and self-guided study program.
ACE’s Health Coach Certificate program is accredited by the NCCA.  The NCCA is the organization that also accredits nurses, pharmacy technicians, and other allied health care workers.
Here is a list of ACE’s Health Coach requirements:
You must be at least 18 years of age.  You must hold a current adult CPR and AED certificate including live skills check. You must submit supporting documentation for one of the following: Current NCCA-accredited certification in fitness, nutrition, health care, wellness, human resources, or a related field; or An associate’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in fitness, exercise science, nutrition, health care, wellness, human resources or a related field, or two years comparable work experience in any of these specified industries.
What helped me qualify for this program was my experience in Human Resources through our business along with my Bachelor’s degree in Biology and CPR certification.   I purchased the ACE Health Coach Manual and studied extensively for about five months.   I gave myself a deadline to complete my studies and take the exam.
October of 2014-I took my ACE Health Coach Certification exam and passed!
November 2014-I was now prepared to take the second step and enroll with Wellcoaches since I had heard wonderful things about their health and wellness coaching program and my previous training would fulfill their requirements. Wellcoaches is also accredited by the American College of Sports Medicine which is very significant.  I had already spoken to their representatives and was 99% sure this was the direction I was going to take.
However, I came across a health coach in Orange County who had participated in the Mayo Clinic’s Wellness Coaching Training Program.  I was extremely intrigued about this program but felt the onsite travel requirement to Minnesota was going to be a challenge.  After carefully weighing my options I chose to continue my wellness coach training through the Mayo Clinic and continued moving forward. However, I would like to add that Wellcoaches offers excellent coaching programs and many wonderful coaches have received their training through this organization.
Here are the Mayo Clinic’s Wellness Coaching Training Program Prerequisites:
Bachelor’s degree or an associate degree in a health-related field with current license to practice also may be considered.
April 2015-Started training in Wellness Coaching through the Mayo Clinic. Although it was an online class through Blackboard I traveled to the Mayo Clinic in May for their 2.5 day onsite training segment.  It was an incredibly positive experience from meeting my instructors and fellow students to learning ‘hands on’ coaching skills.  It truly exceeded my personal expectations!  And visiting Minnesota during the Spring was absolutely beautiful!
July 2015-Officially received my passing grade from the Mayo Clinic.
Where am I now?
I have successfully completed my Wellness Coaching Training through the Mayo Clinic. I could not be happier! I am currently studying for my exam and seeking volunteers in order to complete my 50 practice coaching hours. Upon successful completion of my exam, 50 practice coaching hours, and case study I will be eligible to receive my Wellness Coaching Certification from the Mayo Clinic.
I also met though a mutual contact Dr. John W. Zamarra, a cardiologist in Orange County who was kind to allow me to share the benefits of health coaching in primary care settings which is showing great promise in recent research studies.  Meeting Dr. Zamarra will also help me further understand the field of cardiology and with training in health coaching I have but the highest expectations.
Dr. John W. Zamarra has a private practice in the heart of Fullerton and is passionate about his field and patients.  After meeting with Dr. Zamarra several times I sense his genuine dedication to the field of cardiology and internal medicine.   I would highly recommend him to anyone seeking an experienced and knowledgeable physician with a real passion for the patients he serves.
What does the future hold for health coaches?
We are living in very exciting times and things are changing very rapidly.  Leaders in the field have created the National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches to help unify the profession and create a national certification exam which is scheduled to be introduced in early 2016. You can learn more about their vision here.
How does this apply to me?
Upon receiving my Wellness Coaching Certification from the Mayo Clinic I understand that I will be eligible (with additional training) to take the national certification exam.  However, the NCCHWC has a transition phase (which will be short lived) and permanent phase.  My goal is to take their exam during the transition phase since the permanent phase will have more requirements to fulfill.
Please visit the national certification requirements for individuals to learn how these new standards may apply in your specific situation. Also, please check with your training program and ask about their role in becoming an NCCHWC accredited institution if you wish to pursue the national certification.
If you are an existing health and wellness coach and are interested in a national certification, please check here for the NCCHWC’s examination requirements.
I hope you found this article helpful!  I wish you the best in pursuing a career in health and wellness coaching.  Thanks for stopping by!
Each day is a gift,
Aida

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