Word on the Wards


Word on the Wards (WoW) is an interprofessional health coaching program and elective that trains first and second year trainees from the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, and Physical Therapy to work together to provide health coaching to inpatients at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Now in its third year of operation, the program has provided over 200 patient encounters via 111 student health coaches.

 Though health coaching is traditionally linked to the outpatient setting, WoW’s goal is to take advantage of the often missed opportunity during inpatient hospitalization to further engage, educate, and empower patients. In addition, Word on the Wards provides the opportunity for this year’s cohort of 28 trainees and one community health worker student to work in interprofessional teams and gain experience discussing the topics of diabetes, hypertension, substance use, and HIV with patients.

 At each patient visit, trainees work in pairs to approach patients in their rooms and offer the opportunity for a visit. In addition to visits centered on patients’ chronic medical conditions, physicians and nurses can also recommend patients who they believe are feeling isolated during their hospital stay for visits from the trainees. Preceptors representing the four health professional Schools work with trainees either during or after their sessions to facilitate learning and reflection. Trainees write summary notes of their visits to the patients’ hospitalist physicians and primary care providers.

 Trainees have been able to connect with patients and help facilitate care. As one student reflected, “Because one of the volunteers spoke Spanish, the patient immediately opened up and shared with them her barriers, challenges, and why she felt she couldn’t do the things she needed to stay healthy like [family stressors]. It was sad because of what the patient was going through and beautiful at the same time.”

 The program has also been well received by the inpatient medical teams. One hospitalist relayed, “Both me and Endocrine have spent a lot of time with this patient (as have several of the hospitalists including myself) and you got at details and barriers that none of us knew about. Great job! We're all lucky to have you on board, and the patient is really benefiting!”