Coaching people and providers to better health

Primary care providers face the challenge of managing complex chronic care within short visits. Yet chronic conditions plague millions of Americans. Enter health coaching, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis and a program in California’s Central Valley where nursing experts increase capacity of health care teams and empower individuals to set their health goals.

“Our goal is to provide more services and better access for our community,” says Leslie McGowan, CEO of Livingston Community Health Center.

McGowan teamed with School of Nursing faculty to develop a health coaching program to support people managing diabetes and high blood pressure. The partnership yielded a 13-module course to develop leadership skills and explore avenues of career progression for medical assistants and licensed vocational nurses.

“The medical assistants are not just there to take vitals, but are a vital part of the care team,” explains Katherine Kim, assistant professor and health coaching program leader. “Health coaching is an approach based on motivational interviewing that enables medical assistants to understand what patients need and the best way to support them in managing their health.”

Initially, Kim and doctoral student Victoria Ngo conducted on-site training, and then maintained remote training once a week to help students solve real-life problems they experience on the job.

“UC Davis has been an incredible partner in helping us think about things differently,” McGowan adds. “I believe, in the long run, this is the best thing for our patients.”

While the long-term goal is person-centered, team-based care, an immediate benefit is how participants are empowered.

“Many of these students now envision furthering their education at a school like the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing,” Kim says. “It’s amazing.”