Comparing Nurse Coaching Certifications: NC-BC, HN-BC, and HWNC-BC

Oct 5, 2021

Nurse Coaching is different from all other types of health and wellness coaching. This innovative type of patient care offers patients an opportunity to regain control of their health and achieve lasting, holistic wellness. Nurse Coaching also offers us nurses a way to find true fulfillment in our work. 

While health and wellness coaching can offer tremendous benefits for patients, today’s health coaching industry is largely unregulated — and therefore, it lacks the “cred” needed to reassure patients.

This is one thing that sets Nurse Coaches apart from the run of the mill “health coach.”  Because Nurse Coaches do have a regulatory body that guarantees every Nurse Coach is trained, experienced, and equipped to do his or her job.

Currently, the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC) offers two certifications for Nurse Coaches: Nurse Coach Board Certified (NC-BC) and Health and Wellness Nurse Coach Board Certified (HWNC-BC). Additionally, RNs who are interested in holistic and alternative medicines (but not specifically nurse coaching) can pursue the Holistic Nurse Board Certified (HN-BC) certification. 

We know that learning about all the different pathways to certification can be overwhelming, so our goal is to simplify everything for you here. We’ll discuss each of these credentials and how they can benefit your Nurse Coaching career.

And the good news? You don’t have to choose which certification to pursue right now – because you can complete the requirements for all of them in one place.

Holistic Nurse Board Certified (HN-BC)

Firstly, let’s discuss the Holistic Nurse board certification. When you receive a holistic nurse certification, you demonstrate that you have been trained and proven your skills in holistic and lifestyle medicine, including modalities like mindfulness, aromatherapy, massage and therapeutic touch, and much more.

HN-BCs are registered nurses, so this will always be something that  that sets them apart from your run-of-the-mill health coach. They also supplement their medical training with 48 contact hours in Holistic Nursing Theory, Research, Practice, or related topics and 2,000 hours of holistic nursing practice. While this may seen

Benefits of this Certification

Because this certification is much broader than the others, it has fewer requirements and is, therefore, easier to obtain. Once you receive your certification as a holistic nurse, you can transform your nursing career to practice in a more holistic way that’s more aligned with your personal and professional values. Holistic nurses can work in many settings, from hospitals and clinics to universities, wellness centers and insurance companies.

As a holistic nurse, you can specialize in one modality or use your knowledge of alternative and complementary medicine to heal patients as a private coach. Regardless of where your career takes you, your certification will prove to prospective patients that you can help them achieve their wellness goals. 

Nurse Coach Board Certified (NC-BC)

While holistic nursing uses lifestyle medicine to help heal patients, it might not be enough to ensure total wellness for everyone. After all, an astounding number of Americans are suffering from chronic illness today (a consequence of our current, symptom-focused model of care). 

Often times we nurses can make the mistake of thinking that “because I’m a nurse, I’m already a coach” – but nothing could be further from the truth. Coaching is a very unique modality that isn’t taught in nursing school or on the job. There are specifical techniques and tools that allow us to help our patients create lasting changes in their lives and health. This is where Nurse Coaching comes into play – it’s the missing peice.

Nurse Coaching marries holistic treatment with more traditional forms of care, giving patients a more comprehensive kind of wellness. As a Nurse Coach Board Certified (NC-BC), you can help patients reach their health goals despite any chronic conditions they may have. An NC-BC is a practicing RN (just like the previous certification we discussed), but they have even more training to make them become better equipped to help their patients.

To become an NC-BC, you’d need to have 4,000 hours of RN practice under your belt, as well as 60 contact hours on Nurse Coach Core Values and Nurse Coach Competencies and 60 hours of practice coaching experience.

Benefits of this Certification

Just like with the holistic nursing certification, a board-certified Nurse Coach can work in a variety of settings. Nurse Coaches can open their own practices, work for insurance companies or universities, or continue providing expert care (with an alternative twist) to patients in hospitals, clinics, wellness centers and more.

However, as Nurse Coaches, we have one main advantage over our fellow healthcare and health coaching professionals: additional knowledge and practice. Nurse Coaches have more practical experience in the medical field than HN-BCs, and we have much more knowledge on creating long-term wellness than our non-certified RN counterparts.

Health and Wellness Nurse Coach Board Certified (HWNC-BC)

If you are passionate about sustainable, complete, and lasting wellness for your patients, you probably already know that a certification in Nurse Coaching or holistic nursing is right for you. But which one is really best for your career?

Well, why not both?

The Health and Wellness Nurse Coach Board Certification (HWNC-BC) is the best of both worlds for nurses who are interested in health coaching. With this certification, you are demonstrating that you are both a qualified and trained Nurse Coach and a board certified holistic nurse. To earn this certification, you need to meet the criteria required for both HN-BCs and NC-BCs — but the skills you learn make every course and contact hour well worth it.

Benefits of this Certification

Working as an HWNC-BC gives you the greatest foundation to help your patients heal and find mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. In this role, you are practically guaranteed to make lasting changes in your patients’ lives, whether you’re working in a hospital, in the private sector, or in your own coaching practice.

Choosing Your Certification

By now, it’s probably clear that any of these certifications could enhance your nursing career. So if you decide to sit for an exam, which one should you choose? 

The answer is up to you.

The HN-BC certification has the fewest requirements that are quickest to achieve, making it a great option for any nurse interested in incorporating holistic medicine into their nursing practice. 

If you want to become an NC-BC, you’ll need to put a little more time and effort toward prerequisites and practice hours. However, this will give you a much more solid foundation in the modality of Nurse Coaching. Nurse Coaching is the future of healthcare, which means that this certification will open greater doors for your career.

And of course, if you’re ready to advance yourself personally and professionally as much as possible the HWNC-BC hits two birds with one stone. Once you obtain both your HN-BC and NC-BC certifications, your title automatically changes to become HWNC-BC. These credentials help you expand your knowledge base and offer the greatest possible benefit to your patients.

When you’re deciding which certification to take, ask yourself what you want to achieve. How much time do you have to devote to contact hours and coursework? What kind of nursing practice most interests you? And most importantly, what kind of career are you looking to manifest for your own life? The answers to these questions can help point the way to the right certification for you.

And to make things even simpler for you – no matter which certification you choose, The Nurse Coach Collective can help you prepare for those life-changing, career-enhancing exams.

In fact, by taking just one single program – you will have the option to get any one of these certifications, or all of them. 

Start Your Coaching Journey

Each of the credentials gives you the credibility and training you need to be successful in your Nurse Coaching or health coaching career. And if you want to get those important letters after your name, you need to take a quality certification course like the one we offer here at the Nurse Coach Collective.

Sign up to become a Nurse Coach today to get started on your journey, or check out our free training to learn more about Nurse Coaching!


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