Licensed registered or vocational nurses can specialize in a variety of areas after earning their diplomas or degrees and fulfilling state licensing requirements. They may specialize in dermatology, diabetes management or rehabilitation, for example. If your interests tend toward diet and nutrition, you can achieve a specialty credential by completing the requirements of one of the national organizations certifying health care professionals in this area.
National Board of Nutrition Support Certification
The National Board of Nutrition Support Certification, Inc. (NBNSC) offers certification in nutrition to registered nurses, as well as pharmacists, dietitians, physician assistants and physicians. Nurses must have a current registered nursing license in Canada or the United States and pass a computer-based exam on nutrition at an approved testing facility. A few of the many nutrition topics examined include evaluation of patient nutritional condition, assessment of digestive function, evaluation of laboratory results and planning nutritional support. The NBNSC suggests preparing for the exam with the study materials and classes listed on the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition website.
The Nurse Nutritionist Certification Board
The Nurse Nutritionist Certification Board (NNCB) offers nurses certification as a nutrition coach or a nutritionist. To obtain one of these certifications, you must complete 60 continuing education units in intermediate and advanced nutrition and an approved workshop by Coach 4 Nutrition, an educational project from Natural Therapies Coaching Workshops, Inc. You must also have 500 hours of qualifying work experience under professional supervision and hold a license as a nurse practitioner, registered nurse or licensed vocational nurse.
Advantages of Certification
Passing a national examination for specialty certification will document your expertise and knowledge in the field of nutrition both for your patients and for your employers. You will qualify for challenging work in your field of interest, whether analyzing patients' diets, planning dietary improvements or counseling patients on nutrition. Nurses with nutritional certification can also expect increased job opportunities and more chances for salary increases and promotions, according to the NBNSC.
Nursing Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for registered nurses will increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. The greatest growth will occur in doctors' offices, followed by home health and nursing facilities. Licensed vocational or practical nurses will experience a similar 21 percent increase in jobs during this time, with the greatest increase in services to the elderly, such as nursing care, community care and home health care.