Internships Established for Health Behavior Coach Certificate

October 06, 2017

Justine Mankowski (right),  a senior majoring in community health at UM, talks with a client as a part of her internship at the International Heart Institute. MISSOULA – New internships are available for students earning a Health Behavior Coach Certificate at the University of Montana. The certificate, launched in 2016, is the first of its kind in Montana.

The internships will be offered through a partnership between UM’s Department of Health and Human Performance and the International Heart Institute at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula.

“I’m excited to work with UM’s health coaching program because I feel health coaching has a real chance to help patients adopt lifestyle behaviors to prevent and control diseases,” said Heidi Meiebachtol, a St. Patrick’s Hospital physician assistant in cardiology.

Health and wellness coaches are one of the largest growing job trends, according to the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine. The report reveals health and wellness coaching has been a top-20 trend since 2010 and jumped to No. 13 in its most recent survey.

Meiebachtol believes health coaching is the missing link that can help patients implement recommendations they receive during a clinic visit with their provider.

“Health coaching can help individuals develop successful, long-term self-management skills focused on areas such as healthier eating habits, exercise, smoking cessation, stress reduction and medication compliance,” Meiebachtol said, “which can lead to prevention and control of chronic disease, thereby improving quality of life, limiting hospitalizations and reducing medical expenses.”

The unique, real-world experience students gain in their internships complements what they learn in class at UM and offers a unique opportunity unlike other programs. Previous participants in the Health Coaching Certificate Program at Curry Health Center have had success finding employment in the health care industry.

“After my internship with the International Heart Institute, I feel more prepared than ever to enter the professional world,” said Justine Mankowski, a senior majoring in community health.

Kayli Julius, health coach coordinator at Curry Health Center, knows these kinds of experiences will make UM’s health behavior coach graduates more prepared for life after graduation.

“Health coaching is a skill that takes time to build and understand,” Julius said. “It’s not something you can learn by only reading a textbook or taking an online course.”

Students interested in earning a Health Behavior Coach Certificate are encouraged to visit the Health Coach Certificate Program website at to learn more. Students must apply by the Nov. 18 deadline to be considered for the program.

“Health coaching is a growing field,” Julius said. “We know students are concerned about where they will be working once they graduate, and I believe this field will only continue offering more and more opportunities.”

Contact: Kayli Julius, health coach coordinator, UM Curry Health Center, 406-243-6719,