Gannon University’s Community Health Coaches Partner with Local Hospital

Posted: August 14, 2014

Navigating the rapidly changing landscape of the U.S. health care system can be a challenge, even for those who know the territory. Preparing the next generation of health care providers to move comfortably and wisely in this terrain is the goal of Gannon University's Community Health Coaches course.

A new, collaborative effort between the University and Saint Vincent Hospital, this course offers a unique learning experience where students engage in dialogue to contemplate the challenges facing health care in today's dynamic environment. These discussions are guided by a diverse team of health professionals from Saint Vincent, which includes physicians, a neurologist, nurses, a dietitian, a women's health specialist, a medical malpractice lawyer, a psychologist, transitional care representatives and more.

This past semester, the inaugural class of six Gannon students, who are pursuing careers in pharmacy, medicine and community health, met for a discussion that was facilitated each week by a different leader from the Saint Vincent health team. Together, the students and professionals explored ways to optimize the health outcomes and well-being of at-risk patients by developing individualized educational and motivational support plans for specific case studies. In the subsequent semester, students will be trained as community health coach interns and will make individual, guided visits to patient homes.

The course allows students to identify mentors and role models working in the respective fields they are planning to enter, and to gain valuable, long-term interaction with patients under the careful guidance of Saint Vincent staff. The internship course also helps Saint Vincent Hospital to identify students who will serve as health coaches someday.

The course has already gained popularity and recognition among Gannon pre-professional students. In the Fall 2014 Semester, ten students will enter the program with most of the inaugural class completing the internship this fall.

"Through programs such as this, our students have the opportunity to learn vital skills, interact with patients and their families, and communicate with members of the health care team- things they will not get from their textbooks or science labs," said Provost and Vice President Carolynn Masters, Ph.D. RN.