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What is a Nurse Health Coach? How to Become One

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Want to become a nurse health coach? 

You’re in the right place. Today, you’ll learn how to become a nurse health coach so that you can build an impactful and flexible business. 

Want to learn more? Keep reading.

You’ll learn: 

Definition of nurse health coaching

What a nurse health coach does

The average nurse health coach salary

Where nurse health coaches work

How to become a nurse health coach

How long it takes to become a nurse health coach 

What is a nurse health coach?

Let’s start from the beginning. 

A health coach is a coach who helps people achieve their health and wellness goals.

Through a combination of goal setting, strategy, motivation, and assessment, health coaches help their clients to achieve their health goals, whether that’s losing weight, getting fitter, or eating better. 

As a health coach, you can work for an employer. Or you can become self-employed and start your own nurse health coaching business. 

However, you might be wondering…How does all of this differ from what a nurse health coach does? Let’s take a look. 

What’s the difference between a nurse coach and a health coach?

Not a lot. A nurse health coach helps people achieve their health goals and has a nursing qualification. 

That’s what differentiates a nurse coach from a health coach. Your nursing qualification is something of a stamp of confidence because you are a qualified nurse. 

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And nurse health coaching is highly effective.

A 2022 study showed that nurse health coaching had a positive effect on encouraging behavior change in patients. Patients who received the support of a nurse health coach experienced improved self-talk, resiliency, self-pattern recognition, independence, and prosperity. 

Studies also show improvements in weight loss, stress levels, blood pressure, cholesterol management, and even diabetes management

But why should you consider starting your own nurse health coaching business? Here’s what you need to know. 

Why should you become a nurse health coach? 

The top benefits of becoming a nurse health coach include: 

  • Flexibility: As a nurse coach, you have far more control over your tasks and schedule. While nurses are tied to their physical location, you aren’t – you can work fully remotely. This applies to you especially if you build your own business. Because then, you can work from anywhere and create as flexible of a schedule as you like.
  • Higher income. Plus, you have higher earning potential. The average nurse makes $94,000/year, while you as a nurse health coach (again, especially if you’re self-employed) can make far more than that. 
  • Fulfillment: You control who you work with. And as you work closely with your clients, you see the impact you have every day. 
  • Faster specialization: As a nurse, you have a lot of studying to do before you can specialize in a specific area of the medical field. But as a coach, you can choose the area you have experience in and are most interested in, whether that’s wellness coaching, weight loss coaching, or something else. 
  • Variety: You have a lot of opportunities as a nurse health coach, from working at hospitals and medical centers to starting your own business. 

Now you know the benefits of a nurse health coach career. 

Next, let’s look at what nurse health coaches do. 

What does a nurse health coach do?

In short, here’s what you do as a nurse health coach: 

  • Developing a coaching program 
  • Uncovering self-limiting beliefs that may hurt your client’s progress
  • Helping your clients set realistic goals for improving their health
  • Tracking your clients’ progress together with them
  • Motivating them to change their habits and behaviors
  • Providing research-backed health strategies 

The actual coaching depends a bit on your specific niche – if you offer nutritional advice, weight loss coaching, and so on. 

Ultimately, your coaching is all about offering transformation

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That’s what your clients care about – and what makes your coaching truly impactful. 

A few examples of transforming clients’ lives include: 

  • Helping pre-diabetic clients lose weight so that they regain their health 
  • Supporting women in overcoming their postpartum health issues
  • Working with seniors to help them become fit 

The transformation you offer depends on what your clients want, not what you think they need. So if they want to slim down, you won’t engage them by saying you help them “become confident and healthy.” 

For instance, my student Lorisa, who worked as a nurse for 10 years, started her own coaching business helping people become healthy with plant-based nutrition. 

Screenshot of Lorisa Leigh's website

A clear transformation is how you get more people to work with you, increase your impact…and increase your income.

Speaking of which, how much do nurse coaches make? 

What is the average nurse health coach salary?

On average: 

In other words, registered health coaches and nurse coaches make more than $10,000 more than the average salary registered nurses make ($94,000). 

And if you build your own business, you can ultimately make multiple six figures and beyond. 

Here’s how I grew a six-figure business (while working a 9-5)…and how many of my students have done it, too: 

That said, where do nurse health coaches typically work? 

Where do nurse health coaches work?

As a nurse health coach, you have A LOT of flexibility in where you work. 

You know by now that you can start your own business (which is, likely, the most flexible option). 

But you can also work as an employee at many clinical and non-clinical workplaces, including: 

  • Colleges, schools, and other education centers
  • Recovery clinics
  • Corporations
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Fitness centers
  • Hospitals and health centers

Or, sign these on as clients – this just goes to show you have a lot of options as a nurse health coach. 

Next, let’s take a look at how you can become a nurse health coach. 

How do you become a nurse health coach?

You need qualifications to call yourself a nurse health coach. 

Or, if you prefer, you can also become a health coach with nursing experience. Then, you’d just not call yourself a “nurse health coach,” even though you can, obviously, refer to your experience as a nurse. 

But if you’re set on becoming a nurse health coach, what are those qualifications?

Let’s find out. 

Get a nursing degree

First, you need to become a licensed registered nurse or RN.

There are various accredited nursing programs. You can get:

  • An associate in nursing degree, or
  • A nursing diploma from a registered nurse program, or
  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN)

The route you choose depends on the amount of time you can dedicate to studying, the field of medicine you want to go into, and your budget. 

While an RN degree is required, you can also get a certification. Let’s look at that next.

Decide if you want a coaching certification

You can complement your RN with a certification. 

This isn’t a requirement, though, so you get to choose whether you want a certification or not. 

That said, some organizations might require a certification. And certain certifications can help you specialize in certain areas of health, like pregnancy or infant care. 

So if you want to get certified, there are four different options: 

Become a certified Nurse Coach (NC-BC)

The requirements are: 

  • Unrestricted, current U.S. RN license*
  • Active practice as an RN for a minimum of 2 years full-time or 4,000 hours part-time within the past 5 years if you have a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing
  • Active practice as an RN for a minimum of 4 years full-time or 8,000 hours part-time within the past 7 years if you have an Associate or Diploma Degree in Nursing
  • A degree in Nursing from an accredited academic institution
  • Completion of a minimum of 60 CNEs, accrued over the past 3 years, that include content consistent with the Nurse Coach Core Values and Nurse Coach Competencies
  • 60 hours of coaching experience that has been mentored and/or supervised by a Certified Nurse Coach Supervisor and a validation letter from a Certified Nurse Coach

This nurse health coach certification is recognized by the International Nurse Coach Association (INCA). You can get this certification from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC). 

Become a certified Health and Wellness Nurse Coach (HWNC-BC)

The requirements are: 

  • Unrestricted, current U.S. RN license*
  • Active practice as an RN for a minimum of 2 years full-time or 4,000 hours part-time within the past 5 years if you have a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing
  • Active practice as an RN for a minimum of 4 years full-time or 8,000 hours part-time within the past 7 years if you have an Associate or Diploma Degree in Nursing
  • A degree in Nursing from an accredited academic institution
  • Completion of a minimum of 60 CNEs, accrued over the past 3 years, that include content consistent with the Nurse Coach Core Values and Nurse Coach Competencies
  • 60 hours of coaching experience that has been mentored and/or supervised by a Certified Nurse Coach Supervisor and a validation letter from a Certified Nurse Coach

This credential is recognized by the International Nurse Coach Association (INCA). You can get this certification from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC). 

Become a Holistic Nurse Coach

The requirements are: 

  • Unrestricted, current U.S. RN license from a nationally accredited nursing program
  • 2,000 hours or 1-year full-time holistic nursing practice within the last 5 years
  • 48 hours in Holistic Nursing Theory, Research, Practice, or related topics, within 2 years of applying

This credential is recognized by the International Nurse Coach Association (INCA). You can take this course at the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC)

Become a Health and Wellness Coach (HBC-HWC)

You can take any health coach certification accredited by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching to become a certified Health and Wellness Coach (HBC-HWC). 

Most of these options will require you to have a nursing degree but are less strict than the above three options.

Now you know how to get the right degrees and certifications. But how do you eventually market your nurse coaching business? 

Market yourself as a nurse health coach

So want to start your own nurse health coaching business? Great choice! 

Setting up is as easy as choosing a business model and registering your business name.
But how do you get clients? 

Here’s where to start:

  • Your existing network
    One of the fastest ways to build your business is to get your first clients from your network. You see, your friends and family already know and trust you, so look at helping people you’ve advised in the past. That’s how I got started (albeit in career coaching). Some coworkers I had helped in the past started working with me and that’s how I started my first coaching business. 
  • Guest on podcasts
    Podcasts are highly engaging – people listen to you for an hour and really get to know and trust you. While it takes time to build your own podcast, you can leverage other people’s existing audiences. Pitch podcasts as a guest and start building your business that way. 
  • LinkedIn
    If you’re looking to work in a corporate setting, LinkedIn can help you get started. By connecting with people, building your network, and posting on the platform, you can grow your business quickly. 

And here are a few more ways to get clients as a new coach: 

Now this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the ways you can market your coaching business. But as you’re a new nurse coach, this list will get you started. Marketing takes time but consistency and expert content will compound your results over time.

How long does it take to become a nurse health coach?

How long it takes to become a nurse health coach depends on the degree you choose to take.

If you don’t have a nursing qualification yet, you need to start there. Getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing or BSN can take two to four years depending on the course and your previous nursing education. 

Associate degrees are shorter at around two years. 

Then you have the certification if you choose to take one. All coaching certifications require you to have a minimum number of hours of coaching practice to qualify. 

If you have a BSN, you need two years of nursing practice and 60 hours of coaching practice to become a certified nurse health coach. 

And if you have an associate’s degree, you need four years of nursing practice and 60 hours of coaching practice to get certified.

But what about the cost?

To get a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can expect to spend $40k-$100k. 

An associate nursing degree will cost around $8k-50k+ depending on if you go to a public or private college. 

Bottom line:

If you’re starting from scratch today with no degree and no experience, it will take you around two to four years to become a qualified nurse health coach and an extra two to four years to become a certified nurse coach.

That said, if you have a nursing degree and some nursing experience already, you can start your coaching business right away. 

You won’t be able to call yourself a nurse health coach without the degrees, but you can start your health coaching business if you have nursing experience. 

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

That way, you can build a successful coaching business faster…while creating more flexibility in your life.

Over to you!

There you have it! That’s what you need to know about how to become a nurse health coach. 

Nurse health coaching can be massively fulfilling and help you create a flexible life. 

Now, I’d love to hear from you: 

Why do you want to become a nurse health coach? 

Let me know in the comments below. 

Learn more: 

The Best Health Coaching Certifications

How to Become a Health Coach

How to Start a Coaching Business

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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