A well-balanced diet serves as the foundation for optimal health. But the vast amount of information regarding the essentials of a healthy diet makes it easy to get confused, and some of the information is incomplete or inaccurate.
Nurses have the opportunity to educate patients by reducing complicated nutrition information to easy-to-understand tidbits. If nurses are not confident in their knowledge base, providing instruction on nutrition can be challenging. Some nurses might choose to pursue further training and a nutrition certification to gain additional expertise. This can benefit the nurse and the nurse's patients.
Focus on Nutrition for Overall Health
A healthy diet is significant for treating many types of chronic illness and reducing obesity. The role nutrition plays in a patient's diagnosis, treatment options and recovery are usually covered in nursing education programs such as Mississippi College's online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program.
Nutrition education is a multi-disciplined endeavor but initial education often begins with the nurse. The nurse has the opportunity to gather information and initiate education on the benefits of eating well, often before a doctor or other healthcare provider.
Healthy Nutrition Benefits Nurses
Nurses may strive to maintain a healthy diet but are often challenged with varied shifts, long hours, sleep deprivation and ongoing exposure to illness. It is easy to make unhealthy food choices without planning and preparation. The practice of applying knowledge regarding healthy nutrition has benefits beyond the nurse's personal health. It is also important for:
- Increasing the nurse's confidence in discussing the role of diet in the disease process.
- Leading by example to establish a beneficial patient relationship.
- Increasing the patient's confidence by applying educational principles.
- Promoting health and longevity for themselves and their patients.
Opportunities for Nutrition Certification
Nurses can enhance their contribution to their patients and their team by earning nutrition certification. The additional knowledge regarding the role of nutrition in patient care allows nurses to act as experts and role models to their peers and patients.
A few options for nutrition certification include:
National Board of Nutrition Support Certification (NBNSC) is an independent credentialing board established by the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN). Here is information regarding the Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) credential:
- Nurses, physicians, pharmacists, physician assistants and dieticians are eligible to test for certification.
- The exam is based in the United States and offered online twice yearly.
- The certification is valid for five years.
- ASPEN offers resources to assist in preparation for certification.
The American Association of Nutritional Consultants (AANC) offers an exam to be a Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC). This certification shows professional competence to practice nutritional counseling. Eligibility requirements include the following:
- Become a professional member of AANC.
- Show proficiency in general and applied nutrition.
- Complete an exam based on required health, nutrition, chemistry, anatomy and physiology textbooks.
Expand Your Job Options With Nutrition Certification
A certification in nutrition can result in additional opportunities and provide career mobility. This clinical expertise can be applied to many patient populations in various settings:
- Long-term care and geriatrics - Act as a clinical nutrition manager to focus on reducing malnutrition and improving outcomes.
- Hospitals - Provide training and resources regarding the improvement of patient outcomes and the role of nutrition in recovery and healing.
- Schools and the community - Offer preventive nutrition education.
- Outpatient settings - Become a resource for in-depth nutrition education as a nutrition coach to support diet and weight management.
- Wellness programs - Conduct wellness coaching as a health coach and develop customized diet plans to encourage healthy habits.
Explore Your Options With Nursing and Nutrition
A certification in nutrition can expand upon the knowledge gained from an online RN to BSN program like the one offered at Mississippi College. The integration of nursing and nutrition expertise can help improve patient outcomes as well as promote ideal health and well-being for the nurse.
Learn more about the Mississippi College online RN to BSN program.
Sources:Nurse Advisor: Health Partnerships: Clinical Nursing Practices and Nutrition
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