Q&A with Health and Medicine Coach, Pharmacist Christi Larson, Pharm. D.
Health and medicine Coach, Pharmacist Christi Larson talks about how she is incorporating health coaching into her pharmacy practice.
Q. How long have you been a pharmacist?
A. I graduated from Midwestern University in Glendale, AZ in 2002. After that I completed a 1 year post-graduate clinical pharmacy residency. From there I went on to work in a variety of healthcare settings including hospital, retail, homecare, doctor’s office, infusion center. During my career I’ve been a pharmacist, Pharmacy Director, author, speaker and consultant. In 2009 I started my own cleanroom consulting firm and also wrote the first version of my book Empowered Medicine which educates consumers on their health conditions and medications.
Q. What made you decide to become a health coach in addition to a pharmacist?
A. I was frustrated with the current healthcare system which is disease-centered instead of patient-centered. Being patient-centered means bringing the big picture into focus which not only includes the patient’s medications and disease states, but the physical and emotional states and the root of their problems as well. Physical and emotional states are greatly influenced by habits and beliefs we have developed over time. Everything is connected. For example, many diseases are a result of the lifestyles people live, like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. We must take medicine to control the symptoms of these conditions, but I believe we should really be focusing on the root of the problem.
Q. So you are likely a big proponent of prevention?
A. I believe prevention is the best medicine. Many times it can be very difficult to undo what is done to the body. However sometimes despite our best efforts, and because life in general, we find ourselves needing medication to treat either the symptoms and/or cause of a health condition. When this happens, we must not forget to not only treat the symptoms but also work on the root of the problem so our treatment efforts are not in vain.
Q. Where did you receive your health coaching certification, and what did you learn in your courses?
A. I’m in the process of earning my health coaching certificate from the National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC). This certification is geared toward individuals who are already licensed health care professionals because it builds on the knowledge already obtained in these programs. As a result the program focuses on techniques for helping health coaching clients succeed. This program also stresses wellness and prevention, weight loss and management, and stress management. In pharmacy school, I gained a deep understanding of human biology, body chemistry, nutrition, preventive measures, health conditions and treatment options.
My education has equipped me with extensive knowledge needed to help my clients get to the root of their problems, focus on disease prevention and overall physical and mental wellness.
Q. How do you see health coaches fitting into today’s healthcare system?
A. Health coaches have the opportunity to fill the gap between the patient and their doctors. Many people see several different doctors (a primary care physician, a cardiology, a urologist…etc) and may go to a few different pharmacies. Unfortunately, many pharmacists who work at the pharmacies where medications are obtained do not have the time or the resources to provide the in dept education and help that patients need to successfully tie together all the loose ends in their care. A health coach can help the patient apply education and instructions provided by their health care provider. A pharmacist who is also a health coach can go a step further and provide education and coaching regarding a patient’s medications and health conditions as well. A Health and Medicine Coaching Program (HMCP) provided by a pharmacist can provide patients with an individualized health plan tailored for their unique needs.
Christi Larson is a pharmacist and Health and Medicine Coach dedicated to helping people make positive, healthy changes in their lives so they can live their best life.