How I Came to Work as an RT Health Coach

Jeri Whooley sitting at her desk at Centene

Jeri Whooley enjoys helping patients and families better understand their lung conditions.

They say when one door closes, another one opens. That was the case for Jeri Whooley, RRT, CTTS, a few years ago when her hospital was bought out and half of the employees who were laid off were those with seniority in the facility.

The 35-year veteran of the profession was one of them. She started looking around for what else might be available and soon ran into an intriguing opportunity at a company called Centene that provides health coaches to patients in Medicare and Medi-Cal health plans across the country.

Sure, it wasn’t in her location at the time, but that didn’t stop her.

“I saw the Centene position on LinkedIn and advised them I was willing to move to Arizona since I had grown up there,” Whooley said. “I had my AE-C at that time and had also taken the COPD Educator course from the AARC. They wanted people who could provide education to their members to reduce ER admissions, and after a couple of phone interviews felt I would be a good hire.”

30-minute coaching calls

Whooley took the job and made the move and she hasn’t looked back.

As an RT health coach for the company, today she provides education on asthma and COPD to members in California, Oregon, and New Mexico.

“I also provide smoking cessation, being certified as a CTTS by the University of Arizona,” she said. “An RT fits this perfectly.”

Her services are sorely needed.

“Many of my members lack access to good health care,” she said. “They don’t understand their medications or even know the names of them.”

She will often spend the entire 30-minute coaching call just trying to figure out which inhalers they are using and then help them better understand how and when to use them to their best advantage.

She finds her work in the pediatric population especially gratifying.

“The top rewards are when parents tell me they finally had someone teach them how to deal with triggers and prevent symptoms in their child and they have actually seen a reduction in asthma flares and ER visits,” Whooley said.

Worth a look

What does it take to work in a position like hers? “You need to be able to thrive in an office setting,” she said, emphasizing it’s a regular 40-hour work week. “The pace is much different than in a hospital but the ability to teach people how to cope with their disease process and improve their quality of life is priceless.”

Do opportunities exist for other therapists to take on the role? While it’s not huge at this point, she says there are a couple of other insurance companies out there that use RTs as health coaches, and she encourages her colleagues who might be interested in working in this setting to seek them out.

Looking for your next opportunity?

Check out the AARC Job Board for postings from companies across the country. The Job Board is updated regularly, so check the page often for new opportunities.