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From: Mark Rifkin (
Subject:         Make a Change this New Year!
Date: January 1, 2008 at 10:07 pm PST

I want to wish all the readers a Happy New Year!

If you see a message with a person's name as the subject, it's likely a junk message. Please ignore.

Twelve years ago on New Years Eve, I started the thought process that culminated in my career in nutrition.

If you're at the same point, and you want to leave your current job for a more meaningful career, you're on the right path. After all, the only way to change what people think about nutrition is to become a decision maker. But please bear these thoughts in mind as you consider making your passion your profession:

1) Expect the process to be as challenging as it is rewarding. Expect obstacles. Plan on finding disagreement with your views from "knowledgeable" professionals. But nothing worthwhile comes easy. Or, as someone else once said, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I never understood that until I went through the education and training requirements to be a dietitian.

2) There's two recognized credentialing agencies: the American Dietetic Association (ADA, which issues the Registered Dietitian credential) and the Certification Board of Nutrition Specialists (CBNS, which issues the Certified Nutrition Specialist credential).

3) Most of the market in nutrition counseling will be sick people with a specific condition. Most (but not all) states license nutrition professionals, and if you want to counsel sick people in one of these states, you need a license to practice. To get a license in one of these states, you need one of the credentials listed in #2.

4) If you're going to do it, do it right. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Clayton College and seminars lasting a few days or a few weeks are not going to provide you with the education and training you need to be licensed. If you live in a non-licensing state, your right to practice may not be challenged, but your credibility may. Go to the respective ADA/CBNS websites to learn more about approved academic programs.

5) If you don't live near a program, distance and part time options are becoming more and more available. Thoroughly evaluate all the options before deciding.

6) It's never too late. I started when I was 31, but I knew students who were older than me.

Remember, that Vegsource is here to help. If we don't know the answer to your career question, we'll help you find it.
I wish you good luck in your deliberations.

Mark Rifkin, MS, RD, LDN

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