Health Coaching at Story Medical Clinic

During 2011, Story Medical Clinic became the first health care provider in Story County to offer the services of a specially-trained health coach to patients dealing with chronic conditions.

Patients of our clinic are referred to the health coach for a variety of reasons and have access to the service free of charge. Meagan Ausborn-Henderson, R.N., provides insight, support, motivation and a listening ear to Story Medical Clinic patients.

If you are interested in learning more about Story Medical Clinic's innovative health coaching services, talk with your Story Medical primary care provider about being referred to the service. You can also email Meagan or call her at 515-382-7104.

"Being a health coach allows me to help health care move from reactive to proactive."
- Meagan Ausborn-Henderson, R.N.

Q&A with Story Medical Clinic's Health Coach

Can you explain what a health coach is?

I am a registered nurse with special training and certification in helping patients to set goals and take the steps necessary to manage their condition and any life factors impacting that condition. Being a health coach requires you be a great listener who is not afraid to advocate for patients. I am certified through the Iowa Board of Nursing as a Physician Office Health Coach, and my training enables me to focus on improving quality of life for each of my patients. 

More about health coaching

What types of patients do you work with?

Many of the patients I work with have diabetes or are in need of weight-loss support. In order to effectively manage their conditions, patients need to master many skills, including monitoring, adhering to medications and treatments, evaluating and managing symptoms, and coping with the emotional aspects of having a chronic condition. Many of these patients need some support in managing their conditions and that is where I come in.

Do you need to build trust with a patient for coaching to be successful?

Yes. Building a rapport with each patient is essential. Coaching facilitates behavior change through a structured and supportive partnership between the patient and me. That enables a spark to motivate the patient to look inward and recognize that they do have the resources and an innate ability to make lasting lifestyle changes.  

Does your coaching go "by the book"?

Because so much of what I do is dependent upon the patient, there is no "by the book" when it comes to coaching. Every person's story is inherently unique, and the patient deserves to be coached that way. That being said, the training that I have received allows me to use evidence-based techniques to help engage patients and walk them through the process of change. I would imagine that there are certain characteristics unique to me, which get passed on to each of my patients 

How often do you meet with patients and what does it cost?

I follow up with the majority of my patients on a weekly basis either in person, by phone, or, in some instances, by email. The Health Coaching service is provided at no charge to patients of Story Medical Clinic who are referred to the service by one of our providers.

Why is goal-setting so important?

Part of my job is to help my patients become experts in the management of their conditions. We can achieve this by facilitating short-term goal-setting done completely by the patient. Goals are based on their individual aims, preferences, values and needs. I gently guide my patients to focus on behaviors instead of outcomes because behaviors represent the steps that lead to a desired outcome. Goal-setting also provides a sense of empowerment for our patients and family members. By setting a goal, they have a clear roadmap on what needs to be done to facilitate a healthier lifestyle. Once that goal is set, they can lean on me to explore with them how they can best make a change in their health behavior. 

What is your favorite part of being the Story Medical Clinic Health Coach?

I became a nurse because I genuinely care for the patients I serve. The best part of being an R.N./Health Coach is the fact that I have the time and the resources to sit down and spend the time with patients that they so desperately deserve. As the old cliche goes, "If you do what you love you will never work a day in your life." I am so lucky to have found my calling.

How does it feel to be a leader in Story County in providing these innovative services?

It is a credit to the leadership at Story Medical. I feel completely blessed to work for an organization dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to all the patients they serve. With Mercy Clinic in Des Moines as a model of success, we have been able to implement a program that will likely become a norm in the future. The biggest payoff for us right now is being part of the solution. Being a health coach allows me to help health care move from reactive to proactive.