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Volunteer Premedical Student Health Coach Program

The purpose of this program is twofold:

1. To provide self-management support for patients with chronic health conditions. Changing health behavior is difficult for anyone. Many of our patients face economic and social adversities that create additional barriers to productive self management of chronic illnesses and health related behaviors. Health coaches work side-by-side with primary care physicians to provide self-management support to a cohort of patients.

2. To increase representation in the healthcare workforce by groups who have been historically underrepresented in medicine by recruiting and mentoring health coaches who reflect the ethnic, racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our patient population.

"I am part of the team where I not only feel supported but also have the opportunity to potentially make a difference in patient health outcomes on a weekly basis."

 - Former Health Coach

My experience with Highland Hospital has strengthened my understanding of the health system, and the inside look I gained while working as part of the healthcare team has increased my confidence regarding working in the health system."

 - Former Health Coach

About the program:

Highland is a community based, university affiliated safety-net teaching hospital in Oakland, California. The mission of our residency training program is to provide high-quality, biopsychosocially oriented, culturally relevant care to vulnerable populations, and to inspire and teach students and residents to do the same.

Started in 2009, our health coach program was the first of its kind in the United States. Health coaches are trained in self-management support and motivational interviewing techniques, and are supervised by primary care faculty and residents. Coaches are part of an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, social workers, nurses and medical assistants. Upon completion of service, we are happy to provide coaches with a letter of recommendation.

"I realized that developing relationships with patients is invaluable to successfully deliver inclusive care in primary care medicine. This has become one of the main reasons for my interest in medicine, as I am able to utilize my culture and background to deliver more inclusive care."

 - Former Health Coach

"I have improved my presentation skills through the weekly case discussions. While presenting in front of groups has been one of my greatest fears, I have been able to work towards overcoming this to be the best version of myself prior to applying to medical school."

 - Former Health Coach

"Health coaching has reinforced my desire to serve marginalized communities and combat health disparities and inequity. To mitigate the effects of structural violence, we need to reform and reimagine our perspective on health and policies that perpetuate violence."

 - Former Health Coach

Responsibilities include:

  • Volunteer commitment of one academic year 

  • 4.5 hours per week

  • Applicants MUST be available to attend 8 hours of in-person training on Friday, September 6th, 2023

  • Applicants must be available for volunteering from 8:30 AM - 1 PM OR 12:30 PM - 5 PM on Mondays OR Tuesdays).

  • Coaching will begin the week of September 9th, 2023

"Becoming more familiar with the challenges in improving health outcomes for low-income, disadvantaged patients have been insightful since I plan to serve these communities in a clinical capacity after medical school."

 - Former Health Coach

How to Apply:

  • Please submit the following:

    • Curriculum Vitae

    • A personal statement in which you discuss your career goals, what draws you to health coaching, what you have to offer patients, and any related volunteer, work, or personal experience. (~750-word limit)

  • Email materials to Dr. Davida Flattery:

  • Deadline to apply: May 20, 2023


  • Current senior in college or beyond, interested in a career in healthcare (physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner)

  • Empathetic and resourceful, with excellent interpersonal skills

  • Able to remain committed to clinical responsibilities for a full 9 months

  • Preferred: bilingual in Spanish, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Tigrinya, Mien, or Mam

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