UM offers health coach internships in partnership with St. Pat’s Hospital

The University of Montana this week said it will begin offering internships for students seeking a certificate as a health behavior coach through a partnership between the school’s Department of Health and Human Performance and the International Heart Institute at St. Patrick Hospital.

“I’m excited to work with UM’s health coaching program because I feel health coaching has a real chance to help patients adopt lifestyle behaviors to prevent and control diseases,” said Heidi Meiebachtol, a St. Patrick’s Hospital physician assistant in cardiology.

Health and wellness coaches remain one of the fastest growing job trends, according to the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine. The field landed in the top-20 job trends in 2010 and moved to the 13th spot in the most recent survey.

Meiebachtol believes health coaching is the missing link that can help patients implement recommendations they receive during a clinic visit with their provider.

“Health coaching can help individuals develop successful, long-term self-management skills focused on areas such as healthier eating habits, exercise, smoking cessation, stress reduction and medication compliance,” Meiebachtol said.

Students interested in earning a Health Behavior Coach Certificate are encouraged to visit the Health Coach Certificate Program to learn more. Students must apply by the Nov. 18 deadline to be considered for the program.

“Health coaching is a growing field,” said Kayli Julius, a health coach coordinator at the Curry Health Center. “We know students are concerned about where they will be working once they graduate, and I believe this field will only continue offering more and more opportunities.”