State Requirements for Nutrition and Dietitian Fields

Louisiana

Becoming a Nutritionist in Louisiana

Louisiana is a great place to be a nutritionist. The Pelican State is one of the 35 U.S. states that require nutritionists to be licensed. This not only gives the profession greater prestige and credibility but also helps to ensure government and private insurance payments for services rendered. Unlicensed nutritionists are unlikely to receive any government or private insurance reimbursements for personal counseling.

Nutritionist Degree Certification and Licensing in Louisiana

The Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition is the governing agency.   Nutritionists can apply for two types of licenses in Louisiana:

  • Licensed Dietician-Nutritionist (LDN)
  • Provisional LDN

Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist. The requirements that you must met to become a licensed dietitian-nutritionist and be legally able to place the designation “LDN” after your name are:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited school. In accordance with the Louisiana Dietetics and Nutrition Act, the degree must be  in one of these areas:
    • Human Nutrition
    • Food and Nutrition
    • Dietetics
    • Food Systems Management
  • A minimum of 24 semester hours must be in nutrition courses.
  • Complete 900 hours of supervised work experience in the practice of nutrition. Some colleges include work-experience hours as part of the nutritionist degree program. Others require that these hours must be met through an outside internship or other experience.
  • Pass the dietician-nutritionist licensure examination. The three-hour computerized exam consists of approximately 145 multiple-choice questions of which at least 125 must be answered in order for the test to be scored. There is a $200 fee for taking the exam which is offered at testing centers in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Metairie or Shreveport. If you fail the exam you can take it again at a later date. Detailed exam information is available online.

Provisional LDN. You may apply for a provisional LDN if you have successfully completed all educational and work experience requirements for a LDN but have not yet taken and passed the licensure examination. Provisional licenses are renewable annually; however, they cannot be extended beyond a five-year period. While holding a provincial license you can only work under the direct supervision of an LDN and you cannot set up shop as a private practitioner. As soon as you pass the licensure exam you can apply for your LDN license.

Fees for LDN or Provisional licenses are $90 and $95 respectively. Application forms and instructions are available online.  

Louisiana schools that offer nutrition degrees. An average of 100 students graduate each year with degrees in nutrition from Louisiana schools. The Pelican State has colleges or universities with nutrition programs in all of the following cities:

  • Baton Rouge
  • Bossier City
  • Lafayette
  • Lake Charles
  • New Orleans
  • Ruston
  • Thibodaux

You can earn a bachelors, masters or doctoral degree in nutrition and food science. The kinds of courses you will take as a nutrition major may include:

  • Human Biology
  • Chemistry, Biochemistry
  • Human Ecology
  • Statistics, Research Methods
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition through the Lifecycle
  • Institutional Planning and Purchasing
  • Quantity Food Production
  • Community Nutrition
  • Diversity in Health Beliefs and Practices
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • Nutrition Research

Nutritionist Salary and Job Growth in Louisiana

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dieticians and nutritionists in Louisiana earn an annual wage of between $33,684 and $71,796 with a median salary of $47,288.

The occupational outlook for nutritionists in Louisiana is fair. At present there are approximately 980 nutritionists working in the state. The BLS predicts that number will increase by eight percent, or to 1,060 jobs, by 2018.

Nutritionist Job Description and Job Opportunities in Louisiana

As an LND in Louisiana you will have the option of either working for someone else or going into private practice. In either case your duties are likely to include:

  • Counseling clients or individuals and evaluating their nutritional needs
  • Designing individualized diet plans to fill those needs
  • Giving speeches on nutrition to organizations, clubs, civic groups, etc.
  • Researching nutritional issues
  • Writing reports, newspaper/magazine articles
  • Developing a specialty, such as Sports Nutritionist or Animal Nutritionist

If you are employed by others, your duties might include:

  • Creating meal plans for institutional facilities
  •  Evaluating nutritional contents of processed and other foods
  • Planning school lunch menus and snack offerings
  • Teaching nutrition classes in high schools or colleges
  • Helping to establish federal nutritional standards
  •  Designing nutritional food labels
  • Creating nutritional food products

The kinds of employers in Louisiana that hire LDNs include but are not limited to:

  • Hospitals, Medical Clinics, Rehab Centers
  • Nursing homes, Retirement Communities
  • Spas, Fitness Centers
  • Resorts, Hotels, Restaurants
  • Public School Districts, Private Schools
  • Food-related Government Agencies
  • Food Manufacturers
  • Company Cafeterias
  • Health Food Stores
  • Child and Adult Day Care Centers

Health Coach in Louisiana

Three out of ten adults in Louisiana report that they get little to no physical exercise (CDC, 2014), giving the state the dubious distinction of having the third highest rate of physical inactivity in the nation. The state also holds the fourth place slot in terms of the adult obesity rate (at 34.9 percent). It is clear that there is a real health crisis in the state, and that health coaches are needed more than ever to step in to help Louisianans learn to live healthier lives and turn these numbers around.

Because much of Louisiana’s population is rural and notoriously medically underserved, many Louisianans have trouble accessing health care. In fact, there were 118 areas designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) across Louisiana as of 2014. It stands to reason that these areas would house some of the most obese, physically inactive residents of the state, and that health coaches would be highly valuable here. The state and federal government are working to try to reach out to poorer, rural residents, marshalling the help of qualified health coaches to do so.

In 2015, Louisiana State University’s AgCenter received a two-year, $1.25 million federal grant for a project designed to reduce obesity and chronic diseases in the rural parishes of Tensas, St. Helena and Madison. These three parishes have some of the state’s highest rates of both obesity and poverty. The project is working to improve access to healthy recreation and nutritious foods, as well as to educate them about healthy behavior. Health coaches are expected to be in high demand within these three parishes.

Professional Certification to Become a Health Coach By Earning the Right Degree

Health coaching is a largely unregulated profession, meaning no licensing or certification requirements are in place in the state. However, holding a degree and/or professional certification or registration is often necessary to obtain an entry-level health coaching position.

While your degree may be in any number of health-related fields, some employers prefer candidates who have majored in a particular area. Other employers may be looking for candidates who are registered nurses, registered dietitians, or those certified in exercise science or physiology.

Degree Options

Entry-level health coaching jobs may call for an associate’s degree or career certificate in areas like:

  1. General Studies (Allied Health concentration)
  2. Instructional Coaching
  3. Health and Wellness Promotion
  4. Wellness Coaching Certificate

Most health coaching jobs, however, require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Majoring in one of these areas should help you to get your foot in the door:

  1. Health Promotion and Wellness
  2. Kinesiology with a Health Promotion and Wellness concentration
  3. Health Studies
  4. Health Coaching

Do you already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-health related area, but want to break into the field of health coaching? Consider something similar to one of these specialized graduate certificates or master’s degrees:

  1. Graduate Certificate in Health Coaching
  2. Master of Science in Exercise Science and Health Promotion
  3. Master of Science in Health Science
  4. Master of Arts in Health & Wellness Coaching

Professional Certification and Registration

Employers often require you to obtain professional certification as a health coach or exercise physiologist either before or after being hired. Some may require you to be a state-registered dietician, which is a state-mandated legal requirement when offering dietetic services and shouldn’t be confused with professional certification.
Specific health coaching certifications also exist, and are valued by some employers:

  1. Duke Integrative Medicine – This health coaching certification provides a foundation course, only available on-campus in North Carolina, as well as an online/teleconferencing course that results in a Certificate of Completion as a Certified Integrative Health Coach. You must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field to apply for either of the courses. Once the certificate is earned, you will be listed on Duke’s website database under Find a Certified Integrative Health Coach. You must maintain professional insurance to maintain this certification
  2. Wellcoaches School of Coaching- This organization’s Core Health Coach Training Program lasts 18 weeks and leads to Health and Wellness Coach certification. After that, you may enroll in the ten-month long Wellcoaches Professional Health Coach training program. Training is mainly completed online, but you must also attend live workshops. To enroll, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a related health field. To maintain your certification, you must recertify every three years and complete 30 hours of continuing education and 45 hours of client coaching.

Health Coaching in Louisiana: Career Paths and Job Opportunities

Health coach positions go by many different monikers in Louisiana. As you will notice below, some of them require specialized credentials in dietetics and nursing, while others allow you to break into the field with just a bachelor’s degree. Whatever your specialty, you should be able to find a fulfilling health coaching job in Louisiana.
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in July 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Louisiana. These job vacancy announcements are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide an assurance of employment.

Health Coach Dietitian for Franciscan Health and Wellness – Monroe. LA

You will coach clients in the utilization of behavior modification tools to help them better manage their health. You will help clients plan and achieve their health goals.
Requirements:

  1. Current Louisiana State License as a Dietitian/Nutritionist
  2. Current Registered Dietitian registration through the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  3. Two years of experience with adult and pediatric clients

Corporate Wellness Coordinator for Ochsner Health System – New Orleans, LA

You will conduct health promotion events including health screenings for employees at Corporate Wellness events. This position requires travel to Ochsner Health System facilities and partner facilities throughout the area.
Requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in health education and promotion or a related field
  2. Experience working with and maintaining confidential information
  3. Experience working in a fast paced environment with little supervision

Readmissions Preventionist for Lafayette General Health- Lafayette, LA

You will work with clients during and after their hospital stays, to help them become accountable for their own health care needs. The goal is to promote a positive outcome in the clients and to prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions.
Requirements:

  1. Current RN and licensed in state of Louisiana
  2. Must obtain Health Coach Certification within two years of hire
  3. Five years of clinical work experience

Corporate Health Coach for Catholic Health Initiatives Mercy Medical Center- Iowa, LA

You will work with corporate and community health and wellness clients to help them make positive behavioral changes in nutrition and physical activity. You will meet individually and by phone with clients to check in with them weekly or monthly. You will use the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Council of Physical Fitness materials and techniques in your work with clients.
Requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, exercise physiology, exercise or a related health field
  2. Experience in client education
  3. Must become certified in Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider by the end of a six-week orientation period

State and Local Health Resources in Louisiana

State of Louisiana Department of Health
Mental Health America of Louisiana
Louisiana Health Connect
Metropolitan Human Services District
Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum
Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority
Louisiana Office of Public Health
New Orleans Health Department

 

 

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