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What opportunities are there for nurses to specialize in nutrition?

Thursday January 10, 2013
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Dear Donna,

How can RNs specialize in nutrition without being registered dietitians? What opportunities are there for nurses to specialize in nutrition?

Recent Nurse Graduate

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Recent Nurse Graduate,

Your nurse practice act should allow you to coach, counsel and teach about nutrition issues. Many nurses have become both employed or self-employed working as wellness coaches or working with clients to help them lose weight or manage issues such as diabetes and hypertension. There is a difference between "prescribing" and teaching and coaching. You can check with a nurse attorney to be clear about your boundaries, how to market yourself if self-employed, and other ways to limit liability in this role.

Years ago, I worked in a medical weight control center and taught basic nutrition to clients as well as therapeutic nutrition for weight loss, managing chronic illness, etc. Similar employment opportunities also exist in places such as insurance companies, holistic health and wellness centers, and diabetic treatment clinics.

Nutrition and healthy eating are at the forefront of healthcare and wellness promotion these days, and nurses are uniquely poised to play a significant role in the process.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.