Lyon College and White River Health System (WRHS) have joined together to offer this cooperative program that educates Lyon students as health coaches, teaching them how to provide assistance to the chronically ill and to help these individuals develop healthier ways of life and consistently follow their plan of care.
The program relies on professionals such as administrators, doctors, educators, nurses, nutritionists, pharmiscists, and specialists to give students a better understanding of healthcare systems so that they can help improve the health of patients served by the program, reduce the number of hospital stays for chronically ill individuals, and prepare for their enrollment in professional healthcare schools.
Since its introduction in 2013, Lyon’s Health Coaching Program has exploded in popularity with students preparing for careers in healthcare.
Program summary | Purpose | Student perspectives
Health coaching at Lyon is a two-semester sequence. During the first semester, students complete a one-credit-hour seminar during which they are exposed to a wide array of healthcare topics, which include but are not limited to the following:
• Cardiovascular disease
• Community medicine and the law
• Depression and anxiety
• Home care
Discussion-based classes meet weekly for an hour and fifteen minutes. Discussion leaders include area physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, and other healthcare professionals. This course provides students with the background needed for the subsequent practicum.
The second semester is the one-credit-hour health coaching practicum. Following a two to three week orientation in the hospital, students are partnered by an area home health agency with a patient in the community. The student health coaches then carry out a specific plan which provides support and hope to these chronically ill patients. This plan includes making weekly visits to assist their assigned patients with following their post-discharge plan of care, assisting patients in obtaining medications, helping them get to appointments with primary care physicians, and encouraging them to develop healthier lives through exercise and nutrition.
Several health coaches have gained so much from the experience that they have volunteered for an additional semester.
The health coaches report weekly to a supervising healthcare
10 percent of patients account for 70 percent of healthcare expenditures (New England Journal of Medicine, 2009). These patients typically have multiple chronic conditions, require frequent hospitalizations, take many medications, and have only limited ability to function. They are usually elderly.
Research indicates that with post-hospitalization support, these patients can reduce their number of subsequent hospital stays, cut their emergency room use, and reduce costs.
The health program aims to do just that, improving the health and well-being of chronically ill patients while preparing students for their enrollment in professional healthcare schools.
"It was the first program in the state of Arkansas to give undergraduate students the opportunity to gain college credit while learning from healthcare administrators and clinicians. It also affords students college credit and hands-on experience while helping at-risk patients with chronic health conditions. Patients served by our health coaches have drastically decreased their need to be admitted to the hospital or be seen in an ER and have saved over 2 million in medical costs for our healthcare system.”
- Chris Steel, M.D. Medical Director of the WRHS Community Care Network
“This course really changed me in that it reminded me about my love of medicine, learning about it and then applying it in the real world. My vigor for this bloomed with this course. I also changed in my personal expectations of patients.”
-Mattie Erby, ’14
“Health coaching was an invaluable opportunity to understand the complexities of rural health care delivery in the state of Arkansas. Incorporating local agencies spanning the healthcare continuum, the course transformed my view of medicine. In the end, the Health Coaching Program highlighted the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration when promoting patients’ sustainable and holistic well-being.”
-Jason Lochmann, ’14
“From the program, I learned about disease, nutrition, resources, and the trend of healthcare today. Working with my patients allowed me to learn about their diseases, the nutrition essential for their health, resources available to help them, like cardiac rehab, and the focus of medicine on prevention. These are all things that I would not have learned without the program.”
-Ryan Waddell, ’14
“This experience has further deepened my passion for medicine, to serve others, and to provide them with the knowledge, tools, and treatments, necessary to better their quality of life.”
-Kayla Floyd, ’14
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