Functional Health Coaching for Pharmacists

functional medicine health coaching pharmacist

Wellness Coaching vs. Health Coaching vs. Pharmacy Practice (and a word on Motivational Interviewing)

A pharmacist can provide all the services of a health coach, but a health coach cannot provide all the services of a pharmacist!

One common question we receive from Pharmacists is “Can I just call myself a Health Coach instead of a Pharmacist (and order labs and supplements for patients online, across state lines?)” Perhaps you have seen other practitioners doing this, but keep watch this webinar with Dr. Sandi of FMCA and Dr. Lauren of FMPhA to learn why this thought process may put you at more risk, not less.

  • In this webinar, we also cover why you may want to consider BEING the Pharmacist, and partnering/hiring a Health Coach; and fun fact, Health Coaching is the PERFECT career advancement path for Pharmacy Technicians!!!
  • On a separate note, you can also considering BEING the Pharmacist, and using a platform like Vibility to provide basic functional medicine education and even add-on virtual health coaching. Learn more about Vibility here.

Functional Medicine Health Coach Program:
Functional Medicine Coaching Academy – If you truly want to focus on behavior change through the functional medicine lens, and serve as a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach (FMCHC) and not the Functional Medicine Pharmacist or Practitioner, we absolutely recommend FMCA since you will be learning content provided in partnership IFM, but at the level of a health coach rather than a clinician/practitioner.

Clinician-Coach Certification Program:
Rob Kress of Functional Pharmacy has created a new, unique program geared towards licensed clinicians that teaches functional medicine principles as well as how to leverage the coaching approach. For pharmacists wanting the best of both worlds, this program may be the perfect fit: Certification of Functional Clinician – Coach

Nutrition Health Coach Programs:
Check out out separate blog post all about Functional Nutrition For Pharmacists to learn more about programs like Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Health Coach Training Program (HCTP), as well as scope of practice considerations for pharmacists vs. health coaches when it comes to nutrition.

General Health / Wellness Coach Programs:
National Board of Health & Wellness Coaches (NBHWC): You can read their definition of Scope of Practice as well as browse over 100+ different approved training programs. As Health Coaching becomes a more standardized and regulation practice with the opportunity to bill insurance, this is one of the larger Boards that is driving much of the advocacy and oversight.

National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC): Founded by two RNs, the NSHC offers the Certified Health Coach (CHC) certification exclusively to licensed health practitioners/clinicians who within their clinical practice engage individuals in wellness, prevention, chronic condition and disease self-management, as well as those with moderate to high health risks. The understanding of one’s general health and wellness cannot be separated from the coaching engagement. The program is $875, and consists of a a self-study course (about 85 hours of content) with an exam.

  • No one organization or credentialing board supervises, sets standards for, or provides single oversight of the nation’s many health and/or wellness coach certification programs and credentialing bodies.
  • NSHC’s health coach certification eligibility criteria are most stringent; requiring a current State or National license, registration, or certification to assess, plan, treat, implement and/or evaluate clinical interventions in clinical and wellness settings. Upon learning this, many employers prefer their staff to be trained by the NSHC. The National Society of Health Coaches is dedicated to advancing the use of Evidence-based Health Coaching (EBHC)® by clinicians and practitioners.
  • So why isn’t NSHC an approved program by NBHWC? The NSHC has higher certification eligibility criteria than the NBHWC. NSHC requires a current license, registration or certification to assess, plan, treat, implement and/or evaluate interventions in the clinical setting. The NBHWC includes programs that certify non-clinicians as health coaches, while the NSHC certifies only those with an active clinical license to practice. Due to this difference, the NSHC will remain independent of the NBHWC.
  • What is NSHC’s view on the Legalities of Health Coaching? Health coaching is not regulated at this point. However, there are growing concerns about coaches who engage individuals with chronic conditions or those with moderate to high health risk who are not qualified by licensure to do so. State Practice Acts regulate who can provide clinical interventions. Those without a license who use coaching skills must not cross into the boundaries of medicine, nursing, nutrition and dietetics, or therapy. See NSHC’s special presentation: The Legalities of Health Coaching.


“Health Coach” Programs with Lab / Supplement Partners

Some “health coaching” programs have built-in lab directors that will sign off on the lab orders and allow you to recommend supplements based on pre-established protocols. I would NOT call this true Functional Medicine, as true FM is going to be personalized and individualized to the patient… but, if this is a model that resonates with you, I still believe it can absolutely help “CLIENTS” (not patients) achieve better health.

Integrative Health Practitioner (IHP) – Level 1 covers all essential steps of the DESTRESS protocol that Dr. Cabral uses every day in his own practice, developed after completing over 250,000 appointments worldwide.
(you may also take this as an Educational only course, without the Certification). Level 2 takes you in-depth through 7 different at-home EquiLife lab tests to truly understand who each test is recommended for and how to explain the results to your health coaching clients to help them uncover the root-causes of their symptoms. IHP Level 2 Graduates currently have access to all at-home labs that they are certified to provide education on. All labs provided by a third-party supplier are CLIA certified.



If after reading this post, you’re still not sure whether you want to practice as a Pharmacist or a Health Coach, join us in the Functional Medicine Pharmacists Bootcamp to gain even more clarity and insight so you can get started on your functional medicine journey today!

Sign up to get our free Functional Medicine Pharmacist Checklist!

If you want to learn more about implementing functional medicine in your pharmacy practice, sign up to get our free Functional Medicine Pharmacist Checklist! Whether you’re new to functional medicine or you’ve been practicing for years, this Checklist will give you tools to enhance your practice and help patients improve their health.

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