LICENSED

HEALTH

COACHES

Lessons in Leadership

for Health Coaches

Health Coaches in the United States have no way to become licensed.  There is not a health coach license available.  Licensing laws do not cover some occupations or businesses.  To practice medicine, law, cut hair, drive a car, you must have a license. The law provides for proof of education and ability to perform with testing and licensing.  To practice as a health coach, write books, do research, code computers, coach kids sports, ride a bicycle, you don’t have to prove knowledge or ability through testing.  You can still write books, do research, and coach as long as in doing those things, you don’t participate in activities that require a license.

There are no licensed health coaches.

There are health coach certifications.  The certifications, at this time, are not an official agency of the government, but certifying agencies who’ve declared themselves as such by either academic, community, industry, or for-profit organizations.  The certification is necessary to say that you’ve done what they require to certify that you have mastered the materials presented.  Most certifying agencies request donations, or your school will provide you with certification upon proof of topic mastery and fulfillment of requirements.

There are many health coach certifications.  The important distinction is that you practice within your scope of practice and not within the scope of practice of an industry that requires licensing.  Just because we have a certification that says you’re a nutrition coach, doesn’t mean that we can practice as a licensed dietitian.  That is not in the scope of practice for a health coach.  A licensed dietitian is allowed to diagnose and treat, a coach is not.  The best way to clarify your scope of practice is to visit your state’s laws and consult an attorney.  Different states allow different scope of practice.

     Who Are Health Coaches?

Doctors, nurses, dietitians, nutritionists, personal trainers, coaches

There are hundreds of thousands of health coaches in the United States alone.  There are health coaches in countries with socialized medicine.  Health coaches have become a gift to people who want to preserve their health proactively.

Doctors are licensed within a geographic area.  It can be very expensive to become licensed and able to practice online and across the internet.  Becoming a health coach and working online with wellness courses and pre-established general guidelines that are directed to everyone and not meant to diagnose and treat can be a way for doctors, dietitians, and other health professionals to reach more people and expand their business and revenue streams.

Nurses, dietitians, personal trainers, chefs, all become health coaches to be able to help people in a different way than their current licensing and prevalent business model provides.

     Every Case is Different

Stay within your scope of practice

When you step outside the scope of practice is when you can get into trouble.  Understanding the scope of practice laws, generally within the guidelines of your State in the United States, is your lifeline.

The Nutrition Advocacy Organization has a great website that breaks the state law requirements down by occupation.  {{IMPORTANT}} This is in regard to nutrition law only.  If you are a Naturopathic Doctor in the state of Nebraska, there is no licensing law, but you would not be able to practice nutrition counseling without a license.  Weight Loss specialists are not licensed in the US, but you still have to abide by the laws of the state regarding nutrition counseling.

“This information does not constitute legal advice.  This cannot substitute for legal councel.”

     Example of Nebraska

Summary from Center for Nutrition Advocacy.

Summary:

This law is a Licensure with Exclusive Scope of Practice. This law licenses “Medical Nutrition Therapists”.  Only a licensed MNT can provide nutrition care including assessment, goal setting, counseling, or advice.  Only registered dietitians are eligible for state licensure since only the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam meets the state exam requirement.  There is no licensure pathway for non-RDs.  If licensed, you must practice under the consultation of a Nebraska state licensed physician.  Anyone can also provide general nutrition services without being licensed. General nutrition services include, but is not limited to 1) identifying the nutritional needs of individuals and groups about standard dietary requirements, and 2) planning, implementing, and evaluating nutrition education programs for individuals and groups in the selection of food to meet normal nutritional needs throughout the life cycle.

You can see the difference here, where a practicing health coach would be within their scope of practice by providing a general wellness program and supporting the advice of the licensed health care provider.

There is plenty of room for health coaches to work within their scope of practice, as long as we all work together and don’t step outside the allowed parameters of our laws.

    An Opinion

Effective Collaboration

Health Coaching is an occupation that is beneficial to the health care industry and the community as a whole.  There is no need for industry monopolization, but there is a need for a strong respect for scope of practice.  Doctors can learn to be health coaches, health coaches can learn to be doctors.  You can get licensed, or get the coaching education.

One thing that is imperative, that is to work together.  Take advantage of the scope of practice and support each other within our parameters.  Everyone wins.

Get your FREE Physician Health Coach Partnering Presentation to help you approach doctors HERE.

DID YOU ENJOY THIS POST?

   GET FREE UPDATES

1 Comment

  1. Rachael Mayer

    I am in a health coaching education group on FB with 9K members— it’s shocking how many people are literally practicing almost like naturopaths, they seem to be treating people.

    I am pretty clear on scope of practice but I do want to build an on line business—and worry about the laws in other states—
    the nutrition info I provide is very basic and most of my work comes from my social work and coach background as well as my cooking background— still it’s hard to worry. I have an insurance through AADP. Just curious about more info on all of this as I don’t want to cross lines but I also love providing a simple nutrition matrix for healthy eating. Mainly macronutrients and whole food. Thanks for your time.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *