How Does a 3 Month Certification Benefit a Health Care Professional?

This is a common question among health care professionals.  You already have a degree (often a Masters or Doctorate) and you’re wondering how a 3 month certification can add further value.

Full disclosure?  I had the exact same question.  As a Physical Therapist with almost 25 years of experience, a variety of other certifications, and years of reading and testing out a wide range of fitness and nutritional strategies as a triathlete and runner, I had my doubts. After all, we have the knowledge to provide wellness coaching without an actual certification, right? However, I was curious enough that I decided to move forward, and here’s what I discovered…

1 – Effective wellness coaching can feel almost opposite to what we’ve learned to do as clinicians.  In our clinical role, the patient looks to us to be the expert.  They make an appointment, come to our facility, allow us to evaluate the situation and then provide “the answer” in the form of a treatment plan, which they (in theory) follow as directed.  However, in a wellness coaching role, the client is the expert and we have the skills to draw out from her or him the desired pursuit and the most effective way in moving that direction.

2 – Understanding the process and experiencing the value are two very different things.  I’d read about wellness coaching. I knew the concepts. 12 hours into the live training, I was nodding my head and smiling, encouraged about how this new information would compliment my skills as a Physical Therapist and frankly – make me better.  However, at that point, it was still all head knowledge.  Then the Mentor Coaches walked in, we divided up into pairs, and began doing the coaching with real people. THAT’s when it really clicked. This stuff really works!  The closest example for comparison sake would be when I went through the process of earning a post-graduate Manual Therapy Certification.  I knew the anatomy/physiology/movement patterns/palpation skills/etc.  However, after completing the process, I remember almost feeling sorry for the patients I’d seen prior to that time – knowing they had missed out on an entirely new toolbox of treatment options.  This felt the same way.

3 – The skills learned became a “value added” to every situation I faced as a clinician and manager.Completion of the CWC certification process didn’t mean I put my Physical Therapy skills to the side.  Rather, by integrating the skills learned in this arena, my other skills were actually enhanced.  In the clinic, these skills would mean my patients were more likely to do their home exercise program, that my relationship with them would be deeper, and that they would become more personally engaged in the process.  As a manager, these skills had a similar impact, providing a jump-start to a stronger team and a similar advancement in engagement – this time on the part of our employees. And, of course, these new skills would mean we had a new reason to connect with our referring Physicians, and they had a new reason to move us to the top of their priority list when making referrals…

As a health care professional, we don’t “need” to pursue certification as a Certified Wellness Coach. However, from my experience, it would be difficult to identify a pursuit that would have a greater impact on our career and organization.

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