Louisiana

Becoming a Nutritionist in Louisiana

Louisiana is a great place to be a nutritionist. The Pelican State is one of the U.S. states that require nutritionists to be licensed. In fact, in Louisiana, the licensure requirements for registered dietitians and licensed nutritionists are the same, meaning that a licensed nutritionist is also a licensed dietitian and has greater responsibilities. 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.

Nutritionists in Louisiana are sorely needed, as the population of the state tries to increase its levels of health and well-being. Nearly one out of four adults in Louisiana are considered to be obese. Louisiana ranks among the top ten states in the country in terms of percentage of adult and childhood obesity. As of 2020, 35.9 percent of Louisiana’s population is obese. Nutritionists in this state are definitely challenged with helping to turn this unhealthy trend around.

Nutritionist Degree Certification and Licensing in Louisiana

The Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition is the regulating agency for nutritionists who wish to practice in Louisiana. The Louisiana Dietetics and Nutrition Act is the statute that the board follows in carrying out its duties. Two types of licensure are available for nutritionists:

  • Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist (LDN)
  • Provisional Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (Provisional LDN)

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Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist.

In order to become a LDN in Louisiana, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete 900 hours of supervised professional work experience under the supervision of a registered dietitian or of a licensed dietitian-nutritionist. The Board has designated the supervised practice program (known as a Dietetic Internship, or DI) of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) as the board-approved work experience program. In Louisiana, the following choices are available for Dis for aspiring LDNs:
    • Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University DI, Baton Rouge
      • Full-time, 17-month program
      • 36 graduate credit hours awarded in DI
      • 1524 practicum hours assigned through Louisiana’s five major areas
      • Emphasis on Community Nutrition
      • Optional Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences available
    • Southern University and A&M College DI, Baton Rouge
      • Full-time, 10-month non-degree program
      • 12 graduate credits awarded
      • Total of 1200 hours (32 hours for 40 weeks)
      • Emphasis on Nutrition Therapy, Food Service Systems Management, and Community Nutrition
    • North Oaks Health System DI, Hammond
      • Part-time, 24 hours per week, 12 month-non-degree program
      • Emphasis in Medical Nutrition Therapy and Food Service Management
    • McNeese State University DI, Lake Charles
      • Full-time, 18-month degree program
      • Emphasis on Clinical Nutrition, Community Nutrition and Food Service Management
      • Culminates in a Master of Science in Health and Human Performance, Concentration in Nutrition and Wellness
    • Tulane University DI, New Orleans
      • Full-time, 10-month, non-degree program
      • Emphasis on Community Nutrition
    • Louisiana Tech University DI, Ruston
      • Full-time, 11-month non-degree program
      • 1200 hours of supervised practice, 15 hours of graduate courses leading to Graduate Certificate in Dietetics
      • Earn 15 hours of graduate credit
      • Optional Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics available
      • Emphasis on Medical Nutrition Therapy
    • Nicholls State University DI, Thibodaux
      • Full-time, graduate certificate program
      • 1200 hours of supervised practice
      • Emphasis on Community Nutrition, Foodservice, Clinical Nutrition
  • Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)’s Examination for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs). This is the Board-approved exam for licensure as a Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist (LDN) in Louisiana. Please visit How to Become a Registered Dietitian in Louisiana for more information on the CDR exam.

Provisional Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (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 CDR 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.

Nutritionist Salary and Job Growth and Employment Projections in Louisiana

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for nutritionists will increase by eight percent nationwide between 2019 and 2029. This growth rate is faster than the average expected growth for other occupations. Louisiana’s nutritionists averaged an annual mean wage of $56,740 as of May 2019. Those working in the Shreveport-Bossier City area earned higher than the state average, at $60,900; as did nutritionists working in Baton Rouge, earning $59,400; Alexandria, where they earned $57,690; and Lafayette, where nutritionists made $57,340 per year.

Nutritionist Job Description and Job Opportunities in Louisiana

Licensed dietitian nutritionists (LDNs) in Louisiana have the same job duties and responsibilities as registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) (also because they must fulfill the same requirements in order to become an RDN through the CDR). Duties will differ depending on job title, but may include:

  • Writing, adapting and modifying menus or diets to meet client needs
  • Developing and implementing specialized diet and nutrition plans for groups and individuals
  • Scheduling amounts of food and supplies necessary to be purchased
  • Determining specifications for food, supplies and equipment to meet the needs of an institution
  • Teaching nutrition classes to professionals and to the community

Examples of recent job titles in Louisiana for which LDNs would qualify include:

  • Dietitian – Department of Defense, Leesville
  • Public Health Nutritionist III – Mission Orleans Healthcare, New Orleans
  • Research Dietitian – Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Clinical Dietitian – Healthcare Services Group, Lafayette
  • Registered Dietitian, Clinical Nutrition – North Oaks Health System, Hammond
  • Registered Dietitian, Clinical Sales Liaison – CVS Health, New Orleans

Professional Associations and Organizations for Nutritionists in Louisiana

Some professional organizations and associations that you might want to join as a LDN in Louisiana are:

  • Louisiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Louisiana Dietetic Association
  • Baton Rouge Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics
  • School Nutrition Association of Louisiana
  • Louisiana Believes
  • Louisiana Fit Kids

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
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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