The Massachusetts Board of Registration of Dietetics and Nutritionists grants dietician and nutritionist licenses to qualified individuals who comply with the requirements of licensure. The title LDN is often used for licensed dieticians-nutritionists in Massachusetts.
The Board recognizes human dietetics/nutrition as a science dealing with the relationships between foods and human health, with a focus on:
The Board also recognizes that human dietetics/nutrition involves the application of physiology, social sciences, biochemistry, and physical sciences as to achieve optimum human health.
In addition to being at least 18 years old and being of good, moral character, candidates for nutritionist licenses in Massachusetts must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an institution that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or is approved by the Board (for foreign education programs). The course of study must be in one of the following:
If the degree major is not in one of the above areas, individuals may still qualify for a nutritionist license in Massachusetts if their degree program meets the following, minimum requirements:
Candidates for nutritionist licenses in Massachusetts must also successfully complete a Board-approved clinical internship or supervised professional experience that includes one of the following components:
All candidates for a nutritionist license in Massachusetts must pass a competency examination approved by the Board; it must be designed to test the competency and knowledge needed to practice nutrition. For nutritionist candidates, this examination is the Certification Nutrition Specialists Examination (CNS) of the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS).
The CNS examination includes the following components (and their percentage of the examination):
In addition to the completion of the Application for Licensure as Dietician/Nutritionist, applicants must:
The application must be notarized and mailed to:
Board of Dietetics and Nutritionists
1000 Washington Street, Suite 710
Boston, MA 02118
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed nutritionists in Massachusetts enjoy competitive salaries and ample job opportunities:
One of the most effective ways of staying abreast of the latest information and news within the field of nutrition and dietetics is through membership with a state or national professional association, such as:
School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Dietetic Association
American Nutrition Association
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
National Association of Nutrition Professionals
American Society for Nutrition
Continuing Education and License Renewal for Nutritionists in Massachusetts
Licensed nutritionists in Massachusetts must renew their licenses every two years, provided they have completed at least 30 units of continuing education during that period.
All approved continuing education units must be organized learning experiences of at least 50 minutes in length and must “contribute to the licensee’s professional competence in nutritional practice.”
The expiration date of nutritionist licenses in Massachusetts is the birthday of the licensee.
Licensees can expect to receive a license renewal form in the mail about 8 weeks prior to their license expiration date. The renewal fee is $130.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association has been working on an initiative since March 2016 to reduce hospital admissions statewide. Health coaches have been an important part of this initiative, as they work with patients post-hospital discharge to help them manage behaviors and change their lifestyles. Coaching services in Massachusetts are designed to improve patient care, reduce admissions, and reduce the total cost of medical care. During the short time that the initiative has been in place, a small number of hospitals statewide have reduced readmission rates.
Health coaches in Massachusetts have a wide variety of interests and specialties:
There is no specified educational path to becoming a health coach and no requirement to become registered or licensed. This means you are largely on your own to decide the path you’d like to take.
You might find some employers looking for health coaches that are Registered Dietitians, which would involve being listed on the national dietetic registry through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Commission on Dietetic Registration, and becoming registered with the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Dietitians and Nutritionists. Other employers require health coaches to be Registered Nurses, which entails holding a nursing license through the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing.
For most health coach positions, however, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient. You may choose from a wide variety of majors related to health coaching, wellness, and health education.
Associate’s degrees and undergraduate certificates that entry-level health coach jobs might require include:
Bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) majors that most employers of health coaches look for include:
Do you already possess a bachelor’s degree in a non-health related field but would like to change careers to become a health coach? If so, you might want to pursue a relevant graduate certificate or master’s degree:
Though a bachelor’s degree should be sufficient to help you land your first health coaching job, many employers prefer to hire candidates who also a hold health coach professional certification that complements their post secondary education:
Health Coaching Career Paths and Job Opportunities in Massachusetts
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in August 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Massachusetts. 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 for Medix Care Management- Waltham, MA
In this position, you will be working as a health coach in a fall prevention and wellness pilot program. You will help in overall pilot program development, preview and analyze in home assessments for clients at risk for falls, and follow-up with clients via telephone. You will also review health care plans with clients and work with field assessors.
Health Coach for Ambulatory Practice of the Future at Massachusetts General Hospital- Boston, MA
This position will require you to conduct biopsychosocial assessments of clients and develop patient care Health and Life Balance Plans. You will also help to create an electronic registry to identify clients by specific clinical need. As a health coach, you will also support care triage in the APF program.
Onsite Health Coach for Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital – Brockton, MA
You will analyze individual clients to help them adopt healthy behaviors. This will involve collecting and analyzing data to identify needs of the organization as well as client needs. You will also evaluate the needs of employees and provide one-on-one health coaching sessions to them.
Health coach for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts – Quincy, MA
You will provide a comprehensive needs assessment and plan of care for members, using interventions designed to address chronic conditions. You will also encourage self-management interventions to help members change their behaviors.
Additional Resources for Health Coaches in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Essex Town Health Department
Massachusetts Hospital Association
Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge Tri-Town Health Department
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment
Concord Health Department
Gloucester Health Department