Since the fall semester of 2013, the Wooster Community Hospital and The College of Wooster have collaborated in an innovative partnership called The Community Care Network. The students benefit from a rigorous training program which enables them to work, under close medical supervision, with carefully chosen patients who need companionship and encouragement in developing healthier life styles. The goals of the program for the hospital are to promote wellness, reduce the need for potentially unnecessary procedures and hospitalizations and promote delivery of evidenced based care for patients who might otherwise be over-utilizing hospital resources.

In the first semester in the program, the Health Coach-in-training attends weekly lectures taught by a variety of health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, dieticians, social workers. The coach also completes CPR certification and receives .5 credits for the course. Class assignments stress teamwork, developing diagnostic capacities, and acquiring a strong background in the major diseases which are largely impacted by lifestyle choices.

In subsequent semesters students are assigned their own patients whom they visit on a weekly basis. The Health Coaches assist their patients with health goals and report back to the professional team on each patient’s progress towards measurable health goals. There is an ongoing relationship between each coach and all the professionals in the Community Care Network, but especially with the coach’s supervisor, a trained nurse who is always available for consultation. Drs. Amy Jolliff and Paul Nielsen, Co-Medical Directors of the Community Care Network, meet with the students regularly for updates on each of the patients in the program.  They offer advice and guidance to the students who then, in turn, return to their patients and implement the agreed upon plan.

Graduates of the College of Wooster who have gone on to medical and other professional graduate schools have reported back to us that the skills they acquired in the Health Coach Program have given them a great advantage, and many medical schools are actively seeking to admit students with this kind of hands-on experience in patient care.

See what the Wooster Community Hospital says about this dynamic program.