Help stop the ‘silent epidemic’ of kidney disease: Become a Kidney Health Coach

Kidney disease is a national health concern, as 37 million adults—more than 1 in 7 Americans—are living with kidney disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Even more alarming, 96% of people with mild chronic kidney disease (CKD) do not know they have it, and 48% of people with severe CKD are unaware. That’s because kidney disease is a “silent killer;” it usually develops over time, and many people do not know they have it until it is very far along.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. The CDC estimates that at least a third of the U.S. adult population has diabetes, high blood pressure, or both. Considering most people with mild kidney disease don’t know they have it, there is an apparent disconnect between getting a diagnosis of diabetes and high blood pressure and understanding the potential risk for kidney disease.

We need to change that.

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) is dedicated to preventing and fighting this devastating disease. But we can’t do it alone—we need your help.

Are you ready to become part of the solution? Become an American Kidney Fund Kidney Health Coach™.

Kidney Health Coach is AKF’s new community health education program, replacing our former Kidney Health Educator program. More than 2,000 dedicated volunteers have participated in Kidney Health Educator in the past three years, and we expect even more success with Kidney Health Coach.

Kidney Health Coach empowers individuals to educate others about kidney disease and its risk factors. To become certified as a Kidney Health Coach, you take a free 45-minute online training course and pass a short quiz. We provide our Kidney Health Coaches with the tools and resources necessary to organize education sessions. Kidney Health Coaches are invited to join a closed Facebook group where they can engage with one another and AKF staff, and share their experiences, ideas or tips. Kidney Health Coaches also receive support and guidance from the dedicated AKF staff who run the program.

Kidney Health Coach aims to address the most common and often modifiable risk factors for kidney disease: uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. The program also offers specific, easy-to-understand advice about following a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle. Kidney Health Coach messages are designed to be shared, thereby extending the reach of the program even further.

If you’re interested in educating others about kidney disease, register and take the Kidney Health Coach course to become certified. Though the program is helpful to those who work in the health field, you do not need to have a health background to become a Kidney Health Coach. If you have never educated before, this is a great place to start.

The Kidney Health Coach course includes tips for successfully educating adult learners. The program emphasizes the importance of building a relationship of respect, trust, and understanding between Kidney Health Coaches and their audience. Plus, if you need advice along the way, the AKF staff are available to help.

Through Kidney Health Coach, AKF has a unique platform to reach people at risk for kidney disease in communities across the country. AKF has already established partnerships with organizations that work with at-risk populations to deliver the Kidney Health Coach program, and we will be building more partnerships in the coming months. By growing our nationwide network of Kidney Health Coaches, we aim to increase the number of people aware of kidney disease risk factors, and ultimately prevent the development of new cases of kidney disease or slow the progression of existing cases.

The American Kidney Fund is so grateful for our Kidney Health Coaches and their commitment to fighting kidney disease alongside us. So, are you ready to become a Kidney Health Coach, and join us in the front lines in the fight against kidney disease? Take our free, online Kidney Health Coach course today, and be on your way.


About the Author(s)

Ashley Ring, MPH

Ashley Ring is Associate Director of Public Education for the American Kidney Fund and manages the Kidney Health Coach program.

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