#189: Getting Board Certified with Dr. Cherie Kroh

If you’ve considered getting your board certification through NBC-HWC you’re probably wondering if it’s necessary and what the test is like. Yes? Join Michelle to discuss board certification with Dr. Cherie Kroh! And don’t forget to add your name to the 2022 Fast Track waitlist at https://healthcoachpower.com/waitlist

Find Cherie at – https://wellnesscoachingelevated.thinkific.com

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Full transcript:

Michelle Leotta:
Hello there, health coaches, you know, a couple of years ago, I started catching wind about there's this, uh, board certification coming. There's gonna be board certified coaches. And I'm like, what the heck is everybody talking about? But I started hearing about it. It was something we never had before. So I really did not know much. And every year it's becoming more and more popular. I think it's become pretty much mainstream by now where it seems like most health coaches straight outta school are talking about gotta get board certified or, or do I need it or whatever, kind of mulling that over right away. If not sitting for the boards immediately. Uh, one thing that I wanna tell you right off the bat is I've been a practicing health coach for 13 years. People pay a premium to work with me. I have clients around the world, not once has anyone ever asked if I am board certified because they don't know what it is.

Michelle Leotta:
People don't know. They barely know what a health coach is, right? no one ever asks about my training at all, to be honest, but that is the power of marketing to have these perfect clients who are ready to work with you. Basically, no questions asked. They know they want in. So, uh, if you are looking for support around the marketing piece of your business, before we get into today's topic, I just wanna let you know that the wait list is now open for 20, 20 twos, fast turn. And I highly highly recommend adding your name to the wait list because it means that you're going to get priority access to the program and the best possible bonus package. I cannot stress that enough. It takes two seconds. You wanna go to healthcoachpower.com/waitlist, and add your name to the list. I'm gonna say that again. It's health coach power.com/waitlist, but I digress because today we are talking about board certification. If you're here, live, tell us in the comments, are you board certified? Are you planning on sitting for the exam? And I've invited Dr. Cherie Kroh to join me today and talk all about it. So she, thanks for being here.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Michelle Leotta:
I need you for this episode, cause I do not have a depth of knowledge on this topic. Like I said, I've been doing the work of a health coach for many, many, many years, and this has just kind of popped up. So tell, tell us, how did you get involved with board certification with the NBC HWC in the first place?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
It's a mouthful. Um, I was initially introduced to what the, the, the previous, they used to be called something different. ICHWC was the previous name, but, um, I, a colleague of mine, Margaret Moore is the owner of well coaches. And she was obviously heading that effort, create that board. And so I became aware of it just through conversations with her, um, and understanding the work they were trying to do, which is basically it comes down to, if you want to work in healthcare, generally there's either licensure or board certification. And, um, so their push was to get health coaches specifically into healthcare. So maybe not someone that's hanging a shingle, but working with patients in partnership with a primary care team, for example. And so in order to do that work, they believed that board certification and having a governing board was necessary.

Michelle Leotta:
Yes. Makes sense. And so did you sit for the boards early on then?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
I did. I was one of the first cohorts, uh, in early 2018. It started in 2017, but I think I was the second cohort. So I had it a while now, um, and tried to study for the exam as best as I knew how at the time I was teaching a lot of this material. So I probably am not wasn't the best studier to be honest. But, um, one of the ways I like to study is to create test questions for myself. That's just what works for me. OK. And so I just started posting them on, uh, Facebook page. Cause I thought, well, if these help me, they might help somebody else. And then from there it blew up because it was obviously helping other people as well, try to figure out how to study for this, this pretty enormous exam. I would say it's over four hours. So, yeah.

Michelle Leotta:
Wow. So when you say a test... a study question or a test question, that's not an actual question from the exam, right? That's something

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
I'm just making 'em up as I go

Michelle Leotta:
You're making something up. Okay. Tell us more about that.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
So I just take the content outline, which is the guiding document you would use to study for this exam. The board puts out a content outline, and I just take the, um, competencies that they list that you need to know for the exam. And I create test questions around them. I've been a professor a long time. And so creating test questions was just not a new skill to me.

Michelle Leotta:
I love it.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
I just started posting 'em and then the debate and the comments about what answer is correct and stuff that, that discussion, that debate that happens. That's what helps people learn. So I think, you know, people will come back and read the comments and debate, which is always fun online, right. Are debates in the comments.

Michelle Leotta:
Always. Hopefully they revolve our around some topic like vaccines to really make it interesting though.

Michelle Leotta:
Oh goodness. All right. Well, could you like tell us what one of those test questions might be that not that we're gonna do the whole debate right here, but I'm curious what a sample is.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah. So oftentimes, well, if you go to the board website nbhwc.org, they have a practice test that you can take to get a sense of what's on the exam and what the questions are like. And you'll notice from that practice test, a lot of 'em are case study questions. So then it's always a case study. Usually from the practice test, you can kind of glean and then you're what you're debating between is what is the best next step for the coach to take mm-hmm and you're always trying to decide what's the best answer. Not like most correct, or there's only one correct answer. There's just a best answer for the coach approach. And so that's where all the debate can come in then, is that really the best way to handle this situation? Right. We can all go down that road a hundred times over .

Michelle Leotta:
Yes, yes, no, that's very interesting. And I imagine it's going to cause a lot of discussion among coaches who come from different schools. Exactly. Um, coaches who come from different dogmas, I want to say mm-hmm we have our vegan coaches, we have our keto coaches. How can everybody be expected to answer the same question in the best way?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah. So, uh, the competencies I think are broad enough where it is possible. So for example, one competency is that in general coaches, we don't tell people what to do. Right. We honor their autonomy. So when you're looking for that next or that best answer, but you're looking for is making sure that in the answer choices, the coach isn't SU suggesting or leading, right. And that's a shared across all coaching schools. So it's, it's broad in that way. It doesn't get as specific as our, our niche areas. So, and it's doable. Yeah.

Michelle Leotta:
Got it. Okay. And you said a little bit earlier that this board certification has mainly been created in order to standardize health coaching within a medical setting. Yeah. So, can you give us some examples of health coaches that you've seen take the boards and it was very, very applicable to them because of the types of jobs that they wanted to get.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Sure. Yeah. So you'll see a trend end happening, um, where currently there's a lot of healthcare systems that are, you know, posting opportunities for coaches and they are requiring the NBCHWC. And so there is this sort of, I wouldn't say it's prolific right now, but it is, you can see the trend happening where it's starting to become either a require or preferred when it comes to working with patients in particular, within a clinic healthcare type referral setting. So, um, I think there is that recognition that there needs to be some standardization so that we, you know, in healthcare, we don't do harm. We always make sure we're abiding by, um, HIPAA and, and protecting our, our clients or patients, um, privacy and security. So, um, it, it, it's not a shocker, right. That we would have this in healthcare, given every other healthcare profession has it. And I just think this is the push for one side of coaching to be recognized as part of the healthcare team where, um, it doesn't, you don't have to be part of the healthcare team to be a coach. My goodness, you you've been doing it for years and you're making it just fine, but it's just one, one area of the coaching world that says, Hey, to be in healthcare and be a health member of that healthcare team, we really want to elevate sort of this shared standard.

Michelle Leotta:
Right. Makes sense. Okay. So if we're looking to work with doctors, be part of a medical team, uh, be, I always think of it just in terms of if you're planning to be hired by an entity other than yourself. Sure. Yeah. You know, this is not rec, um, maybe not everyone is requiring it right now, but it's definitely what's coming. So that makes a lot of sense. Um, can you say something about accepting insurance? Cause we get that question a lot and I think that's like one of the main things people think of, oh, if I'm board certified, I can accept insurance. Is it just that easy?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah. So not right now. definitely not. So currently, um, the codes that are developed for health coaches are being test in research studies and what these, what happens at the end of these studies is the data is presented to Medicare to demonstrate coaching efficacy. So for example, if I coach somebody for 12 weeks, I can get them off Metformin. For example, if they're type two, if they're a person with type two diabetes. So, um, those that, that data is presented to Medicare. It should be presented to Medicare in about two years, and then they make the decision to make it a code that is then reimbursable. What that means is then the service of coaching is reimbursed by Medicare first and then once Medicare reimburses for something, of course, all the other insurance companies follow suit. So, um, that is the expectation is that in about two years, that data will be ready to present to them.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Maybe even sooner I've heard, but mm-hmm, , we'll see, we'll see what happens with research. You never know. And then, um, they will make the decision to say yes to the three codes that were presented to offer reimbursement for health coaches. And of course reimbursement changes everyth, right. And how, how it was written in terms of the language, is that in order to be reimbursable by healthcare insurance, Medicare, you have to have your certified health education specialists certification or the NBC H w C those are the only two that are going to allow to be reimbursable. So that is why I, I push it so much if people are interested in working with patients, like get this now, because when it becomes reimbursable, you'll be ready to then accept that reimbursement or get paid, right. And not have your client doing the, paying the insurance companies, doing the paying, just super nice.

Michelle Leotta:
And that's such a barrier sometimes when we do try to partner with doctors, but they're accepting insurance and we're not, and someone's like, wait, why do you cost a $20 copay? And you cost thousands of dollars outta my pocket.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Exactly. Yep.

Michelle Leotta:
Yeah. So it makes so much sense. Okay. So if you're planning to work in that realm, then this is definitely something to consider. Um, you mentioned like if you're hanging a shingle, if you're someone who's running your own online business, you are your own boss. You're running this show, you're finding your own, you're having nothing to do, you know, with the medical community at all. Uh, then is there a, a pro to being board certified that maybe isn't immediately apparent?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah, it's a very good question. Um, I, I, I hate to leave things, uh, off the table. So for example, if you are not, and you have a shingle up and you're coaching and you're not board certified, if anyone was gonna come like a clinic or a PT clinic, or I don't know any clinic in your community and say, I wanna partner with you, they're gonna have a tough time convincing their administration to partner with you. If you're not board certified more than likely because they need that reassurance that you're following HIPAA and you're abiding by patient privacy, cuz that's, you know, the Mo one of the most important things in healthcare. So I think you're kind of closing that door, but I think right now you would not have that issue. It's definitely a new and emerging sort of certification. And really it won't in my opinion, take off until there's reimbursement and then you'll see, you'll see everything go down then right. Like, I mean, we haven't had a profession enter healthcare that's that got reimbursement in decades. Like this is just unheard of that a new profession gets for something as big as like stress management, for example, like that's never been reimbursable, you know, that's just, it's incredible for our patients and our clients. What an opportunity.

Michelle Leotta:
So who's listening right now? Who's watching and has questions for Dr. Cherie? I, I think that this is definitely like the new frontier it's like health coaching is changing and maybe we're splitting until like, you know, we already are, there's so many different kinds of health coaches. Sure. Um, you know, I, I think this is becoming one of those subgroups. Yeah. Um, and I'm also curious if anyone here is already board certified or thinking of becoming board certified, what would be the first step if somebody is interested in sitting for the exam?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yep. You have to pick a school. So, and the NBHWC, uh, I dunno how to word this perfectly, how they do on their website, but they have approved programs. So what that means is they have comment, uh, done their analysis of the curriculum and said, yep, this is the curriculum that will prepare you to sit for the exam. So you have to attend an approved program first. And then after that, there's a few other steps you take, like you have to do actual coaching hours and submit a log and then apply to sit for the exam.

Michelle Leotta:
Okay. And I, I, obviously this information is all gonna be on their website. Cause like the very first thing that comes to mind is, well, what if I went to, IIN back in the year, zero.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yep. Yep.

Michelle Leotta:
Which is what it feels like, you know, what about me? And then someone else is gonna say, what if I went to this school, you know, blah, blah, blah. So all that stuff I'm sure is handled on their website. Um, so good. So that's our first step. And then you mentioned, and I have heard it is not an easy test so say a little bit more about that. And also what if you don't pass?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah, that's a good question. So, um, you know, I think any there's mixed reviews in any national exam, right? The PTs have it, the nurses have it, athletic training has it. Um, but in general, these exams are not usually very easy. Um, so there is a, a commitment to study for these exams and this one in particular, it's four hours, it's 150 questions and they're mostly case studies. Mm. Um, it's intense. So that's intense. Yeah. That's like, if you've ever just sat at a computer for four hours and tried to concentrate, that's no easy feed. In my opinion, like that's very difficult. So, um, the, the studying piece I think is just, is critical. Now, if you don't pass, obviously there's options for you. So you can retake the exam. You just have to pay a fee. I think it's three 50 or something. Um, and then if you don't pass the third time, you have to go back and retake an approved program. Ooh. So yeah. You get three chances.

Michelle Leotta:
. And do you have any idea what percentage of people who take the test pass or don't

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
No, they, they don't share that information right now. Cause it, the, the exam is currently still in the validation stage, meaning, um, they're doing all the psychometrics in the background to make sure they're questions are valid and reliable. And then once that, that phase is done of, of doing all that testing to make sure that the exam is sound, then they release like the passing score. For example, they'll release something like that.

Michelle Leotta:
Okay. Good to know. Uh, Christina's asking our board certified health coach is able to partner with product partners like oils or supplements. I understand that it is prohibited. Can you speak to that?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah. Um, the, the scope of practice and, um, ethics documents of when you become board certified indicate that, um, if you do, you can do it, you have to, um, make, or it's in the agreement that is signed up front and the client knows before they purchase from you, that you are going to be doing that and that you are a rep of a certain company, or you have to just be completely transparent from the get go. You can't mention it after the first session. Um, according to the documents, that would be an ethical violation. Mm-hmm so you just wanna make sure you're doing it upfront. It's not that you can't, you just have to make sure you're transparent.

Michelle Leotta:
Do you think that applies more or is that written up more for, um, those who are part of MLMs or does that apply to any kind of affiliate marketing?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
No, I think it's anything. Yeah. It doesn't matter. Yeah. So like, if you were, um, I don't know, maybe you work for GNC too, and your health coach, you would need to be transparent up front that you may recommend some products from GNC, cuz you also work there. You just can't mention it three sessions and that would not be yeah.

Michelle Leotta:
Yeah. Fair enough. Yeah. Fair enough. I know a lot of us, for example, have accounts with full script and we'll say here are a couple different brands of, you know, multivitamins that I like or something like that. So you would just want say upfront as we would do anyway with affiliate marketing, I'm an affiliate with this brand or with this company and you don't have to buy from this company, but I'm just gonna share it with you in case it's useful.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah. And you just wanna make sure you have documentation that you have some sort of training in that area. That's also really important with scope of practice.

Michelle Leotta:
Okay, great. So, um, we're gonna sit this four hour test. We know there's hundred 50 questions. Yeah. Okay. We're gonna focus. We're gonna get a good night's sleep. What are your top tips for passing this exam? So we don't have to pay $350 to take it again.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
I know right after you pay to sit forward anyway, and you pay, you paid for your approved program. Um, so best advice I can give is take the exam right after you finish your approved program, but that's just not always how it works out. Right. Um, I have many people that come to me for help studying for the exam that perhaps took their program two years in ago and that's a long time and they need help studying for the exam again. And that makes perfect sense to me. Like how do you go back to your notes from two years ago and just sit by yourself and try to figure it out. It's just very difficult. Um, so I'm all about, uh, finding the support you need and making sure you're following the content outline and be careful of online resources. So for example, um, you might use a Quizlet that already exists.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
That's out there in the world. Um, and these are like flashcard type apps and things you can use. But well, what I find is oftentimes it has the wrong information and so you're yeah, you're getting into sticky water there. So I would just encourage everyone to be really careful with certain online resource versus, um, have that support system and follow the content, outline to a T do not stray from the content outline. Cause that is the document that indicates what's on the exam. So don't study something that isn't there. Right? We don't wanna study appreciative inquiry. That's actually not a competency that's on the content outline, even though it's in all the textbooks with coaching. These just wanna make sure you're following that.

Michelle Leotta:
Okay, good to know. And I understand that you are helping health coaches to prepare for the boards. You mentioned that you've been a professor. Why don't you tell us a little bit about why you're doing this and how you're doing it? How can coaches get help from you?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, my, why is very simple in that I, we need a lot of health coaches in this world. We need more than we have. We need more diversity than we have, but we need more. I absolutely believe that we are the missing piece. We, we are the missing piece to people thriving 100%. So however I can help people get into this field and commit to the discipline and be in it for the, a long haul. It really help patients, clients reach their goals, whatever they are, whatever health goals they have. That is number one for me. Um, I research, I conduct research in this discipline. So I'm really interested in the efficacy of coaching. Does it really work? And why does it work? I'm more interested in figuring out why does coaching work? I wanna really it to keep further research on that.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
And then, um, honestly I just love hanging out with health coaches. So I run study groups and we just laugh a whole lot and have a lot of fun because studying let's be real is not fun so I try to figure out how to make it fun and how to create a supportive group where we're all in it to pass this exam together and we leave no one behind it's that sort of mentality as well. So yeah, I do study groups before every single exam month that it occurs. Um, I've helped over 1200 so far I have a 95% pass rate. So, I think we're doing something. Yeah. I think we're holding onto that. Hopefully

Michelle Leotta:
Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah. Yeah. We're super proud of that. Me and my team and just trying to really help people that need the extra support. Not everybody can just study by themselves and pass an exam. It's not that easy, you know, that extra help is just key.

Michelle Leotta:
Yes. Yes. It sounds like it definitely would be, uh, from someone who's done it from someone who's let other people through it. For sure. And what's the timeline like for that? Like we could take the test a couple times a year. And so for how many weeks ahead of time would we do the study group?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Sure. Yeah. So, um, the exam is currently offered three times a year and I start my study group 12 weeks before that month that the exam period starts. So I, 12 weeks just generally tends to work out best where you don't overwhelm, but, but you're far enough out where you're not stressing and trying to cram it all into six weeks. So it's kind of, we've found our sweet spot, I think with the 12 weeks out.

Michelle Leotta:
Gotcha. Okay, good. So then everyone can go figure out where the dates are and kind of mm-hmm, work it into your calendar. That's a significant period of time to be is this to something. And from what I hear from all of our many thousands of coaches in our health coach, fire community is it does take a lot of studying. It's a mm-hmm , it's a commitment.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
It is. Yep. There's um, not only understanding and reviewing, but also some memorizing of all those numbers that you are tested on.

Michelle Leotta:
Okay. Good to know. And I agree with you hanging out with health coaches is the best. I often say like I am so blessed to be in this industry because yes, I have to go to work, but like I get to hang out with like some of the best people with the biggest hearts all day long. And if I have to take a mental health day, everybody applauds, instead of telling me I should go to work anyway.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Exactly. I'm like, these are my people, these are my people. Yeah. I feel the same way. Totally.

Michelle Leotta:
So it's always good when we have a reason to come together and work toward a common goal. So I'm so glad you're offering this. Where can our listeners go to find out more about your study groups?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah, sure. Um, my website is a little long, so I apologize. I'm rebuilding the one it's on pause right now. So it's Wellness Coaching Elevated is the name of my business. So wellnesscoachingelevated.thinkific.com, which is T H I N K I F I C.com. And that's where I'll my study groups are and they, uh, launch 12 weeks before any testing date.

Michelle Leotta:
And so that's where we'd want to go in order to see what you have available dates that they're starting and also sign up. We were just right there on the site.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
You got it. Yep. And then after you're certified, I do a lot of CEC courses as well. Cause you have to maintain your certification. So you have three years to get 36 continuing education credits. So there's that maintenance piece too.

Michelle Leotta:
Yes. Just real quick. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah. Any industry where you have certification or licensure, especially in healthcare, requires you to keep it up to date. So knowledge changes all the time. We're in a knowledge economy. So to stay, you have to kind of demonstrate that you're staying up to date with knowledge and, um, changes within your industry. So pretty standard you either go to conferences, take online courses, um, there's book clubs, there's all sorts of ways. You can earn your continuing education credits,

Michelle Leotta:
Book clubs. That sounds fun. Okay. Let's do it. We will post a link to, uh, your website. As soon as we are done on live here, I'll put it in the Facebook group and we'll put it in the show notes for those of you that are listening via podcast. So you can all get ready for the next test date. You happen to know when it is.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yes. So the next testing period is October 20, 22. So registration starts in June and the study group will start in July. We'll kick off with, um, a big, uh, to do about how to make this work for you while studying in the summer. This is the hardest one, I think. Cause it's like, people are on vacation and they're like, I'm studying on my cruise ship and I'm like, you go , it's just a tough one. That October day...

Michelle Leotta:
Yes, it's a tough one. But uh, maybe you got some time off too that you're able to use. Who knows?

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Who knows?

Michelle Leotta:
Cherie, thank you so much for joining us today and talking about this hot topic.

Dr. Cherie Kroh:
Yeah, my pleasure. It was really nice to be here.

Michelle Leotta:
All right, everybody. I'll see you next week. Have a great one. Take care.