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What are the Benefits of Board Certification?

Jul 24, 2017 | Perspectives | 0 comments


Let’s begin with a little history: the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board was founded in 2003 as a division of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals with the objective of creating an advanced-knowledge examination to be proctored only to qualified, credentialed holistic nutrition professionals. A goal of the HNCB is to further credential a growing body of nutrition professionals who exemplify a standard of excellence the public can trust to deliver the highest integrity holistic nutritional therapy and consulting services. NTA is proud to be a recognized and approved holistic nutrition education program through the NANP, having met and surpassed NANP’s rigorous educational standards, which then qualifies practicing NTA graduates to sit for the board certification examination. By offering Board Certification, the NANP provides the NTA’s certified NTCs and NTPs an opportunity to join a much broader community of like-minded holistic nutrition providers with collectively high standards of service and professionalism. Becoming “Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®” demonstrates you have achieved the highest level of professional recognition and validation of your knowledge and experience in the holistic nutrition industry, which sets you apart in a competitive health and wellness modality marketplace. The term “Board Certified” often conjures an image of an enhanced level of knowledge and a deeper level of experience consumers may seek simply because it represents the “best of the best.” Other benefits of Board Certification include increased credibility and validity of your NTC/NTP credential in the eyes of the network of providers within the traditional and complementary medical community, within the realm of academia and research, and certainly within your clientele. Board Certification conveys to your clients an additional layer of assurance that you conduct your nutritional therapy practice within your legal scope of practice with the highest regard for professional conduct while also delivering quality results. The additional effort to elevate yourself to be among the best in the field of holistic nutrition is well worth it as you can market the fact you’ve met additional educational, clinical practice, and ethical standards required by a larger professional credentialing body. Becoming Board Certified also means you’ll enjoy greater access to professional quality supplement lines usually only available to licensed providers as well as receive discounts on other health products, practice management services, and more for those who hold the Board Certification in Holistic Nutrition® credential.


I’ve found it has greatly increased my credibility as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and as a paid conference presenter, curriculum developer, and author as the perception of being an expert in the field is relayed by my use of the Board Certification designation. The added credential has opened many additional doors for me, especially in networking with providers in the allopathic medical community who may not have engaged in my request to collaborate were it not for my having the credential present on my marketing materials and business cards. Over the 20+ years I’ve been practicing in the healing arts, I’ve recognized the extent to which holistic providers greatly undervalue their services and therefore undercharge for their time, skills and knowledge – I know I’ve done it, it’s a common affliction of many healers – and this tendency to devalue the skills and practice of the holistic nutrition trade only suppresses our collective ability to be taken seriously in the world of nutritional therapy as well as our well-earned right to make a satisfactory income while working, living, and breathing our passion for health through whole food. Board Certification provides the confidence to recognize you have achieved one of the highest credentials in our industry and deserve to be well compensated in your practice. You walk the talk, use your credentials to earn what you are truly worth!


The most recent format of the Board Certification exam consists entirely of multiple-choice questions covering an array of topics over 5 domains:  Food & Nutrition; Fundamentals of Anatomy, Physiology & Biochemistry; Counseling Skills; Nutrition in Practice; and Research. Examinees must successfully pass each of the 5 domains in order to pass the entire exam, and each domain is weighted differently with the highest concentration of questions pertaining to clinical application of nutrition based knowledge. This type of examination can be somewhat tricky as you often need to discern the one word in a statement which negates the entire answer, while the rest of the response may be perfectly appropriate. NTA program graduates may also find some questions and proposed responses contradict our philosophy of whole food nutrition (lack of bio-individuality, use of non-fermented soy products, suggestions to include common food sensitivity items, etc.), though the discerning NTC/NTP will understand the ‘correct’ answer to those few questions even though you might never actually make such a recommendation in your own practice. My suggestion here is to swallow that bitter taste, provide the ‘right’ answer, and move on toward passing the exam! You are allowed 3 hours to complete the exam (with a 15-minute break in the middle), and there is now exclusively an online proctor option administered through ProctorU as part of your examination fee (previously you could take the exam at the NANP annual conference, though it seems they’ve discontinued that practice). At the time of this interview, the HNCB is working on redeveloping the Board Exam and possibly changing the format in the future, though it’s not clear when these changes may come into effect. Check the NANP website frequently for additional updates to their qualification requirements and frequently asked questions:  https://nanp.memberclicks.net/board-exam


I’ll be perfectly honest here, becoming Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® should be considered an investment in your practice and your future; it is not inexpensive to obtain this credential, though I do believe YOU are worth the investment. First, you must be a Professional Member of NANP in good standing ($249/year or $448 for 2 years). Renewal of Professional Membership is required after you achieve Board Certification, and you’ll be required to submit 30 CEUs every two years to maintain Board Certification.  NANP has unique requirements for Category I and Category II CEUs; review their website to determine those CEU qualifications. The great news is the NTA Annual Conference CEU credits qualify for NANP Professional Membership renewal so I hope to see you March 2018 in Vancouver, WA! Next, there is a non-refundable Board Exam application fee of $75, so be sure you have met all qualification requirements before you officially apply. If you choose to purchase the optional HNCB online study guide, it’s currently $49.95 and includes the recommended reading list and a sampling of a few potential questions in each domain. Finally, the Board Examination Fee is $300 and includes the proctor fee to take them exam online. So, add it all up and the Board Certification exam will cost you $873 up front with additional future costs to maintain the credential.


The HNCB’s limited-content online study guide only contains a recommended reading list of study materials to help prepare for the examination, a few general study tips to help identify which type of learner you are, and a very small sampling of potential domain questions. Some of the recommended reading titles on the NANP list are outside the NTA’s required reading list, and collecting the books you don’t already own and giving them a good solid review for 2-3 months ahead of the exam may be enough for some of you. At the time of this interview, I don’t have an updated reading list from NANP as they are mid-development of the new exam and titles may be changing. It’s possible a Professional Member of NANP could request an updated list without purchasing the study guide; inquire directly of NANP for more details. For others who feel they may need a deeper study of new materials with a more nutrient-specific clinical approach than offered in the NTA curriculum, I’ll be offering a webinar style Board Exam study review class later this year after working with NANP to obtain approval.


I don’t see any downsides to furthering your studies beyond your NTA training and elevating your hard-earned NTC and NTP credentials to a higher level while also aligning yourself with a quality group of equally passionate nutrition professionals beyond the NTA tribe. The NANP vision of “a future where people choose food as their medicine” is certainly in line with the NTA philosophy and the values we instill in our graduate membership, and by becoming Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®, you just might bring even greater value to the mission and work of all your NTA colleagues and tribe members.


As I mentioned previously, identifying myself as Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® while confidently sharing my knowledge and skill as a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP is the credential I remain most proud of!) has opened many additional doors of opportunity for me as a public lecturer, a corporate wellness provider, a writer, an educator, and especially within the allopathic medical community where I work to bridge the gap between the realm of holistic nutrition and the standard American medical system (I call it the SAMS ‘club’).  Think of all the other doors that could open and all the possibilities to expand our nutritional therapy outreach if more NTCs and NTPs also become Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®.  Admit it…you like the sound of it next to your name!


Cathy Eason, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®, is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, certified GAPS Practitioner, Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist, educator and public lecturer.  She has been a Lead Instructor for the Nutritional Therapy Association for the last 11 years and has over 20 years of clinical experience providing holistic nutrition counseling, therapeutic bodywork, exercise program development, coaching and lifestyle education to a wide range of clients through her private practice in Portland, Oregon.  Cathy enjoys mentoring and counseling NTPs, NTCs, and other holistic health practitioners as they grow their practices and build community around wellness.  Learn more about mentoring opportunities at www.cathyeason.com.