Which Credential is Right For Me?

The educational standards, code of ethics, and scope of practice set by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) and the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (HNCB) are essential to the integrity, credibility, and protection of the holistic nutrition profession; they are also demanded by the sophisticated health consumer of today. National board certification is a responsible first step toward building consumer confidence and gaining wider acceptance among other credentialed health professionals.

NOTE: Before using any title, please check the laws in your state. The use of the titles “nutritionist” and “nutrition counselor” are legislated in some states. To prevent misusing the title, please check your state laws governing the practice of nutrition.

It is also important that you become familiar with your state’s health freedom legislation. An increasing number of states have laws that protect consumers’ rights to choose their health providers and provide guidelines for complementary and alternative health professionals’ legal practice.

The HNCB offers two credentials, the BCHN® and the CNP

  • BCHN® (Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®) – NANP Professional members with an education in holistic nutrition are eligible (find Professional member qualifications here)
  • CNP (Certified Nutrition Professional) – Eligibility is extended to NANP Professional members with a bachelor’s degree or higher in nutrition or a nutrition-related field of study from a NANP approved holistic nutrition program, OR a college or university regionally or nationally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (i.e. nursing degrees, registered dietitians, naturopathic doctors, etc.). NOTE: Must pass the BCHN® board exam to qualify.
    Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® (BCHN®)

    Application Fees & Required Materials:

    The following documentation must accompany the Board Exam Application:

    • Professional membership (find Professional member qualifications here)
    • Application fee $129 (non-refundable)
    • Examination fee $300
    • Signed and dated Professional Conduct Agreement (within the application)
    • Photo or Headshot (electronic or paper submissions accepted)
    • Copy of your driver’s license or state-issued identification
    • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
    • Proof of existing liability insurance (if you are in clinical practice)
    • Copy of holistic nutrition diploma(s) and/or certificate(s)
    • Copy of any professional license(s) you may hold
    • **Documentation of 500 professional experience contact hours with completed “Contact Hour Documentation Form”  (waived for New Graduates)
    • Official transcripts from your graduating institution(s) (to be sent directly to the NANP/HNCB by the school(s))
    • Letters of reference (one each: professional and personal, to be completed via the instructed online form after you’ve applied)

    ** There are two types of Contact Hours: Direct and Indirect.

    Direct Contact Hours Definition: Working directly with customers, clients, or students providing nutrition education and/or consulting services.

    Required Documentation:

    • Internship or externship –  A completed and signed Internship/Externship Form.
    • Independent (self) employment providing nutritional consulting services – (please provide all of the following):
    1. business license
    2. three (3) case studies (500-word summaries)
    3. a log that includes a list of client initials, date range of services, the total number of sessions, and total time with the client
    • Employment as a nutrition consultant or educator of holistic nutrition for an academic institution (school, college, or university) – A letter from your employer verifying employment, including the number of hours you worked and a copy of your job description.

    Indirect Contact Hours Definition: Research, writing, or developing educational materials or programs (in holistic nutrition) in a community, business, academic or clinical environment.

    Required Documentation:

    • Acting as a research intern – A completed and signed Internship/Externship Form.
      • Independent Researcher (e.g., time spent in interviews, reading, performing internet and literary research) for a publication or educational presentation – A copy of the article, report, or other formats (e.g., PowerPoint presentation, etc.) providing your research results.
        • Non-research preparation for creating a publication or educational presentation, be it public, recorded, or both (e.g., actual writing and other material preparation), locating and creating a dialogue with key individuals, venues,  consultants, assistants, publishers, printers, and publication representatives) – A copy of the article, report, or other formats (e.g., PowerPoint presentation, flash drive, URL, etc.) providing the actual publication or educational presentation.

          NOTE: Activities conducted as a required part of an educational program, with the explicit exception of internships and externships, do not qualify toward the 500-hour requirement. The Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board will determine the applicability of unusual experience on a case-by-case basis.

          Exception for New Graduates

          New graduates may apply to sit for the exam without providing documentation of 500 Contact Hours. The candidate will be allowed two (2) years from the date of their exam to provide this documentation. Upon passing the exam and until such time that the documentation requirement is satisfied, the candidate may use the title, “Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® (Candidate)” or “BCHN® (Candidate).”

          A new graduate is an individual who graduated from a NANP-approved program within the twelve (12) month period in which they apply to sit for the exam.

          Download the Contact Hours Form here.

          Certified Nutrition Professional (CNP)

          NOTE: Eligibility is extended to NANP Professional members with bachelor’s degrees and above specifically in nutrition. (Must pass the BCHN® board exam to qualify.)

          Application Fees & Required Materials:

          • Professional membership (find Professional member qualifications here)
          • Application fee $75 (non-refundable)
          • All requirements of BCHN® Board Certification
          • A bachelor’s degree or higher in nutrition or a nutrition-related field of study from a NANP approved holistic nutrition program, OR a college or university regionally or nationally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education
          • 1,200 Supervised Practice Hours

          Special NoteThose who have been in clinical nutrition practice for a minimum of five (5) years can be “grandfathered” in by providing the following:

          • Evidence of completing 1,500 combined Direct & Indirect Contact Hours (may consist exclusively of Direct Contact Hours (DCH) but must include a minimum of 750 DCH) – for more information regarding contact hours, please see the BCHN® “Contact Hours Documentation Form.”
          • Two (2) additional professional letters of reference

          Supervisor Credentials must include one or more of the following with a minimum of three (3) full-time years of clinical experience in nutrition care:

          • Certified Nutrition Professional
          • Master of Science or Doctoral Degree in nutrition or nutrition-related field of study (state-licensed or certified)
          • Other licensed healthcare professional whose scope of practice legally includes the dispensation of nutrition education/counseling services (for example, Chiropractor, Nurse, Medical Doctor, Naturopathic Doctor)

          Types of Supervised Practice Hours:

          Nutrition services must include the following:

            • assessment
            • education, counseling, or management
            • monitoring or evaluation

          NOTE:  Not all experiences must take place within the same setting or under the same supervisor

          The Supervisor must:

          • Sign the Practice Supervisor Approval Form
          • Meet with the Candidate a minimum of twice monthly
          • Provide written & signed confirmation of completion of the supervised practice hours

          The Candidate must:

          • Obtain approval of the Supervisor via this Practice Supervisor Approval Form
          • Submit the Supervised Practice Hours Documentation Form for approval by the HNCB upon completion of the hour

          Download the CNP Supervised Practice Hours Guidelines & Approval Form Here

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