Mercer Launches Health Coaching Certificate for Piedmont Healthcare


ATLANTA — Mercer University's College of Continuing and Professional Studies has developed a Certificate in Health Coaching and Multidisciplinary Care Coordination for Piedmont Healthcare and will begin teaching the first class in the program today. The program is designed to train the coaches to help identify and work with patients suffering from a number of chronic conditions, helping them to lead healthier, longer lives while avoiding hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

More than 30 nurses and medical assistants from Piedmont Heart Institute and Piedmont Physicians Group will begin a five-month series of classes today. The training launches on Piedmont Atlanta Hospital's Atlanta campus in Classroom 8 of the 77 Building at 9 a.m. The modules in the program will be led by faculty from the College's Department of Counseling and Human Sciences, as well as Piedmont experts. The certificate was designed in conjunction with Piedmont executives and facilitated by the Center for Health and Learning, a partnership between Piedmont and Mercer.

“We thought that offering certifications would be a good way to add the skill sets that are required for a new care model,” said Dr. James Sams, chief medical officer of Piedmont's South Region. “We're transitioning from a volume-based care model to a value-based care model. Well-trained health coaches will be critical team members if we are going to deliver better care at a lower cost.”

In the certificate program, the students will learn to assess data and locate at-risk patients with chronic conditions, help them navigate their care and find ways to motivate them to take an active role in their own care.

“We're always looking for ways to help improve patient outcomes,” said Myra Miller, vice president and chief operating officer of Piedmont Medical Care Corporation, the parent company of Piedmont Physicians Group. “This certificate will not only teach the coaches to take a more proactive approach in addressing patient care but will improve patient care as the coaches learn how best to collaborate with the clinical team to address patients' needs.”

The program will include registered nurses, licensed professional nurses and medical assistants from Piedmont locations in metro Atlanta and consists of 10 in-person and online training modules. The modules include: introduction to health coaching, roles of the health coach, evidence-based practice and standards of care, working with patients, principles of active listening, tapping into the patient's learning style and facilitating behavior change, personalized health planning, goal setting and coaching strategies and techniques: self-management support, multicultural perspectives in health coaching and management of information.

“We designed this program with Piedmont to integrate our expertise within Department of Counseling and Human Sciences with those of subject matter experts from within Piedmont,” said Dr. Kevin Freeman, assistant professor of counseling and human sciences, one of the certificate's designers. “We will provide the counseling skills necessary to enhance patient motivation and skills in striving for optimal levels of health and wellness, while Piedmont's experts will provide the evidence-based standards of care that Piedmont has adopted.”

About the Center for Health and Learning
Two of Georgia's oldest and finest institutions — Piedmont Healthcare and Mercer University — came together in 2005 to enhance the future of healthcare delivery and education. Through the Center for Health and Learning, Piedmont and Mercer are creating innovative solutions to challenging 21st century health dilemmas impacting Georgians today. These areas include addressing physician, nursing and other allied health professional shortages, increasing quality while reducing cost, and utilizing joint faculty, student and health professional research and design teams to further innovation and learning.

About Piedmont Healthcare
Piedmont Healthcare, a not-for-profit organization, is the parent company of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, a 488-bed acute tertiary care facility in the north Atlanta community of Buckhead and the top acute-care community hospital in metro Atlanta in the 2011-12 U.S. News and World Report's Best Hospitals list; Piedmont Fayette Hospital, a 157-bed, acute-care community hospital in Fayetteville; Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, a 42-bed community hospital in Jasper; Piedmont Newnan Hospital, a 136-bed, acute-care community hospital in Newnan; and Piedmont Henry Hospital, a 215-bed acute-care community hospital in Stockbridge. PHC also is the parent company of Piedmont Heart Institute (PHI), comprised of nearly 100 affiliated cardiovascular specialists in Piedmont Heart Institute Physicians with over 25 locations across north Georgia; the Piedmont Physicians Group, a multi-specialty group with more than 150 primary care physicians in over 50 offices, in addition to more than 20 specialists in over 15 locations across greater Atlanta; Piedmont Clinic, a 900-member physician network; and Piedmont Healthcare Foundation, the philanthropic entity for private fundraising initiatives. Three Piedmont Healthcare hospitals—Piedmont Hospital, Piedmont Fayette Hospital and Piedmont Mountainside Hospital—have received top ratings from patients among metro Atlanta hospitals according to the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey results for the past three years. For more information about Piedmont Healthcare, visit

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah – and four regional academic centers across the state. The Mercer Health Sciences Center launched July 1, 2012, and includes the University's medical, nursing and pharmacy schools and will add a fourth college – the College of Health Professions – on July 1, 2013. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program.
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