Case study

Health and wellbeing coach — Hannah Popple

Find out how Hannah's work as a health and wellbeing coach positively impacts on people's lives

How did you get your nutritionist job?

I applied through NHS Jobs, attended a face-to-face interview and was offered the job the same day.

How relevant is your degree to your work as a health and wellbeing coach?

I apply all principles of my postgraduate MSc Nutrition with Obesity and Weight Management degree to my role as a large majority of patients are referred for weight loss.

What are your main work activities?

On a daily basis, I work with patients to improve their health and wellbeing, using the techniques of health coaching to improve their knowledge, skills and confidence.

During the COVID-19 pandemic all my work was home-based, but now restrictions are lifting we are beginning to see patients for face-to-face appointments in GP practices, walk-in consultations and group sessions.

I work alongside a team of health and wellbeing coaches with a range of backgrounds including nutrition, exercise and mental wellbeing and we have developed service from scratch, designing our referral criteria, referral pathway, session aims etc.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The aspect of my job I enjoy the most is making a difference to patients' lives and seeing the positive impact health coaching can have on people. There is a lot of power in developing somebody's confidence in their ability to make changes to their health. Even the tiniest of changes, for example, swapping from white bread to brown bread can significantly improve people's health, especially those leaving with type two diabetes for example. Small, sustainable lifestyle changes are at the heart of my role.

What are the most challenging parts?

Budgeting restrictions which prevent community work, low levels of activation among patients and a lack of engagement from some patients are the most difficult parts of my job.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to become a health and wellbeing coach?

Do plenty of research into the role, and into the area you are applying to work within as local knowledge is key.

Ensure you get relevant experience of working with people/patients and that you have adequate qualifications as this will help you deal with complex cases. For example, mental health first aid training.

Be passionate about changing people's lives and be open minded and expect the unexpected - patients are very diverse and complex.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I am still fairly new to the role but hope to progress into management or team leader roles within healthcare.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

Choose something you're passionate about and ensure it's accredited by a professional body, if relevant, such as the Association for Nutrition. Consider the commuting time to your campus to ensure it's convenient enough.

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