Health Navigator Certificate Program

See the interview in Pacific Health Magazine with Pam Koppel, Program Director of the Health Navigator Certificate Program.

This program is a combination of on-site and online learning. To find out if you're ready for online learning please see "Are You Ready For Online Learning?". Also, because of the online component, it requires some actions to be taken before the class begins. To find out what they are go to "What To Do Before Your Online Class".

About the Program

Our health care system is rapidly changing. Be on the forefront of that change! Health Navigators are the newest addition to the healthcare landscape, and you can be part of shaping this new profession.

In the Sonoma State University Health Navigator Certificate Program, we start with one basic skill: listening - not fixing! You will learn to help patients use their own wisdom to guide them to better health, while you support them by providing skilled reflection, appropriate resources, readiness for change evaluation and coaching, goal setting, and incremental planning to help them reach their health goals one small step at a time.

New Class Starting Fall 2014

Health Navigators are popping up everywhere these days and the SSU Health Navigator Certificate Program is one of the most comprehensive Navigator Training Programs in the country to date. This growing profession is ranked high in a recent study of emerging encore careers in the health care field. Training in this new role provides students with the skills to navigate clients in medical offices, hospitals, community clinics, health clubs, non-profit organizations and more.

The focus of the SSU Health Navigator program is on the processof the Navigator/Client relationship and learning to grow in any type of setting that the a graduate might encounter. You will learn how to research a diagnosis, how to find resources, how to document to fit any type of charting, how to reflect on your experience with each patient/client in order to grow your skills, and more.

This two-semester program trains students to:

  • Support patients by offering a safe, non-judgmental space to be heard.
  • Facilitate a process that will allow patients to make the choices that are right for them.
  • Provide information and resources to patients who are faced with chronic and acute health situations.
  • Articulate the role of the Navigator in a health care setting or non-profit organization and integrate the services with the needs of the organization.
  • Prepare patients for visits with their doctor.
  • Skillfully communicate with health care providers.
  • Provide coaching to individuals looking to improve their lifestyle and break habits that no longer serve them.
  • Reflect on their interactions and relationship with their patients/clients on an ongoing basis.

Please Note: this program is highly process-oriented. There are some didactic portions of class and given that the framework focuses on the navigator/client relationship as the core of the process, the navigator's interpersonal process with clients is a significant area of interest as we move throughout the year.


One of the most exciting and effective components of the program is the opportunity to practice the skills you learn in class with on-site experience working in a health care or non-profit organization. The internship opportunities will begin as early as October (in the fall semester) and continue through May.


Admission to the program requires an application. The program is offered in partnership with the Integrative Medical Clinic Foundation, and the curriculum has been approved by the Nursing and Counseling Departments at SSU. For information on fees and further details, please see the FAQ's page.

Who Should Attend

  • Non-licensed individuals interested in learning to become a "lay" navigator.
  • Registered Nurses or Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists.
  • Licensed alternative practitioners such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, or physical therapists.
  • Individuals interested in starting a private Navigation practice.
  • Individuals interested in learning or expanding essential skills for patient/client-centered practices, that will apply to any service career.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete 90 hours of in-class time, 120 hours of online and/or phone supervision time and a minimum 128 hours of fieldwork.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of this program are working as:

  • Navigators in hospitals and community clinics
  • Navigators in non-profit organizations
  • Navigators in health clubs
  • Private practice Health Navigators
  • Private Practice Elder Care Navigators
  • Support roles in similar professions that benefit from a person who can truly listen, drop his/her own "agenda" and help others find the answers that are right for them

NEW THIS YEAR: Graduates who are now employed as Patient/Health Navigators or have their own private practice, will be participating as mentors and graduate instructors! You will be learning from those who are paving the way for those embarking on this career!

Affiliated Organization

Integrative Medical Clinic Foundation. Cynthia Calmenson, Executive Director.

Information Meeting

Click here for schedule

Courses By Term

Fall 2014