Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What Is a Certified Nutrition Specialist?

The Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS) has made sure that their Certified Nutrition Specialist credential is the best clinical nutrition certification.

They’ve achieved third party accreditation from the National Commission on Certifying Agencies (NCCA)—the same accreditation that the registered dietitian credential has.

They’re also listed with the Department of Labor. When you look at the Department of Labor’s definition of dietitian and nutritionists, for dietetics, they refer to the Registered Dietitian credential, and for advanced nutrition, they refer to the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential.

Another critical missing component that needed to be put in place was ensuring practice rights and benefits- making sure there’s a path toward legal practice and recognition in the states for clinical nutrition practitioners, and ultimately, insurance reimbursement for nutrition therapy.

The Center for Nutrition Advocacy was created by BCNS to advocate on behalf of all nutrition practitioners. The essence of that work is to ensure that all nutrition practitioners can practice to the level of their training.

The advocacy center works to make sure that states have inclusionary, regulatory regimes that do not exclude qualified people from practicing to the level of their training.

"We've had phenomenal success over the last four years through Center of Nutrition Advocacy and all of our allies that have helped us with that to defeat all attempts to achieve an exclusionary regulatory regime. Over the last four years there were 17 attempts, sometimes multiple attempts in a given state, [to achieve exclusionary regulation]," he says.

The BCNS’ Certified Nutrition Specialist credential is really the top level credential at this point. To become a registered dietitian (RD) you need an undergraduate degree. To become a Certified Nutrition Specialist, you need an advanced degree. According to Michael, many RDs are now going on to get additional training in clinical nutrition therapy, and then are able to become Certified Nutrition Specialists.

BCNS is also working toward ensuring that nutritional professionals will be reimbursed by insurance companies for their nutrition-related services. As noted by Michael, nutrition simply isn’t recognized as being an important part of health care, and this is a systemic issue that is being tackled by many different groups, including BCNS and its Center for Nutrition Advocacy.

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