October 14, 2017

Yay. You’ve gotten your CNS or a nutrition license! Congrats – you’re a certified/licensed nutrition specialist extraordinaire.

Not to rain on your parade, and it’s a good idea to start thinking about your continuing education requirements right away. They tend to creep up on you, and you don’t want to be left scrambling when it’s time to renew your license or certification. Believe me, the time flies by!

Review of Requirements for Renewing your Nutrition License

I’m only familiar with Maryland’s licensing requirements. If you’re licensed in another state, obviously you’ll need to look up the requirements. I am also using the acronym CEU liberally. Everyone calls them something slightly different – CME, CEU, CNE,… blah blah. We all know what I’m talking about, right? ;).

Please note that in Maryland you are not required to maintain your CNS in order to retain your license. However, if you think you might move to another state where the CNS is a requirement then you may want to keep up with both of these certifications. (I got this information from my friend Margo, who serves on the Maryland board that oversees licensure; however it may be prudent to double-check this before making any drastic decisions.)

CBNS Requirements

75 CEU every 5 years

  • Anything pre-approved for medical, nursing or dietetic CEU/CME/CPE (must be at least 50% nutrition-related content)*
  • Taking classes at a regionally-accredited college or university (1 credit = 15 CEU; if you audit 1 credit = 8 CEU)
  • Teaching classes at a regionally-accredited college or university (1 lecture hour = 1 CEU; max of 50 CEU)
  • Publishing a peer-reviewed book or article, editing a journal or textbook; chairing a scientific session or committee (see website for credit allocations)

State of Maryland Requirements

30 CEU every 2 years

  • Taking academic classes (1 credit = 15¬† CEU)
  • Attending seminars, lecture, journal clubs, etc (1 hour = 1 CEU)*
  • Auxiliary training (CPR, cooking classes, research skills, etc) – maximum of 6 CEUs
  • Independent learning, study groups, reading, etc – maximum of 20 CEU
  • Note that MD does not count teaching as a continuing education activity

* Both the CBNS and the MD Board specify that seminars by supplement companies or other businesses-promoting products are not eligible.

Be sure to read up on the requirements, as they do change and there’s more to it than what I listed above. If you click on the labels above you’ll be redirected to the website with a full list of each organization’s requirements. I’ve just posted the short version!

photo (c) Camille Freeman
photo (c) Camille Freeman

So where can you get these hours?

There are three easy ways to rake in CEUs. The first is to attend conferences – which is a great way to get a large # of hours quickly, plus a mini-vacation and networking. Remember that you can write all of it off! You can also attend workshops & seminars locally. Lastly, there are numerous options for self-study; while these can’t make up 100% of your hours you can definitely make good progress this way.¬† If you need reminders, be sure to connect with me on Facebook. I often post there when I hear about an upcoming CEU event.

Conferences for Nutrition Professionals

  • American Society for Nutrition Conference:¬† This one often occurs in the Balt/DC area; it’s pricey though!
  • American College of Nutrition Annual Conference – This conference is usually a few hundred dollars, and the focus is more academic. I always learn a lot when I go – it has a more professional feel than many. It does come to the DC/Balt area every few years.
  • Food As Medicine – offered by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine; this multi-day conference is designed for medical professionals. It’s quite pricey but they do offer discounts and scholarships (and the food is super yummy).¬† Content is largely review for seasoned nutritionists, and it’s always great to make connections and brush up on your info.
  • Integrative Healthcare Symposium – Held early each year (usually Feb/March) in New York, this conference is also (sigh) pricey¬†and offers many nutrition-related talks with some of the big names in the field. Less focused on research and more focused on clinical work.
  • Nutrition and Health Conference – offered annually by the University of Arizona (associated with Dr. Weil) in various locations throughout the country; prohibitively expensive for most ($700 is the early-bird price for 2014)
  • National Institutes of Health – The NIH offers a variety of conferences, workshops and programs every year; most are free and many count towards continuing education requirements.¬† Check out their calendar for all types of juicy goodies. You can attend some via webcast, although I’m not sure if those would count towards CEU credits.
  • National Association for Nutrition Professionals – Offer an annual conference geared to holistic nutrition practice
  • Many of these conferences offer the chance to purchase & listen to recordings of the sessions for CEUs as well.
  • I hear that people have also counted the American Herbalists Guild annual conference for CEUs; I haven’t tried this myself, but it does make sense as herbs are considered dietary supplements

Workshops for Nutrition Continuing Education

  • Institute for Brain Potential – This company offers full-day seminars that are pre-approved for nutrition CEUs. They typically cost $70-80 for the day, which gives you 6-8 CEUs. There are workshops in the DC/Balt area several times a year, in various locations and they offer a few webinars as well.
  • MUIH – They are increasingly offering CEU options; keep an eye out for the email newsletters.
  • Center for Mindful Eating – membership is $40 annually and includes CEU credits for their teleseminars on mindful eating as well as a listing in their professional directory (student membership is $25)
  • MD Anderson’s iCARE – This series of free CEU videos about respectful communication with your client (it’s designed for MDs but applies to everyone; note that it is not 50% nutrition content so may not count for CNS hours – check first)
  • Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit Training Module – 1.5 CEU, free, hosted by the CDC.
  • There are boatloads of other free CEU trainings available here under the category “Environmental Medicine Education for Healthcare Professionals”
  • Ethics and Professional Boundaries in Healthcare – 3 CEU from CME California: A project of the University of California Schools of Medicine (exp. March, 2017). Free.
  • The University of Albany’s School of Public Health offers many free CEU opportunities – Click on the “past webinars” tab to learn more. Note that not all are nutrition-related; many of the breastfeeding topics, however, will count!
  • Check your local universities – many will offer workshops, lectures and presentations that are open to the public
  • Health Masters Live offers short courses for integrative practitioners that run about $300 for 12 CEU (there are also shorter courses and single session that are less expensive). I’ve taken a few and they are hit or miss – some are excellent, and others are so-so. However, there are always a few free 1-hour courses up (you do get a certificate of completion for CEU purposes) and you can also purchase access to the recorded versions. The integrative care for breast cancer free class looks interesting.

Self-Study for Nutrition Continuing Education

  • ContinuingEducation.com – first course free; online courses; have not tried them but they look good if you are looking to learn more about a specific topic¬† (~ $20/CEU) – topics include science of weight management; diverticular disease, chronic illness & malnutrition‚Ķ Tricia notes that if you join their site ($20/year) most of the courses are 1/2 price, bringing the cost per credit to $5-10.
  • CE International – this site offers √† la carte training online for modest fees (~$15 per credit hour). Some trainings are live online and some are pre-recorded. You can also buy a 1 year membership for $200 (as of 2017). If you time it right, you could get CEU for accreditation periods within one year, making it a reasonable deal. I have not personally taken any of these trainings, so I can’t vouch for them. They are associated with MED2000, an accredited CPE provider through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, so it seems on the up-and-up. Thanks to Amani El-Sawah and Anne Harvey for recommending this one.
  • Wolf Rinke Assocaites – self-study modules (usually a book + a self-administered test); relatively inexpensive way to get a large chunk of CEUs and learn at your own pace
  • MedScape – CEU credits for healthcare professionals; they do have some advertising on the website from pharmaceuticals, and in general it’s a great place to get last-minute free CEUs. All kinds of interesting topics with various experts. (MedPage Today and other sites offer similar services)
  • Abbott Nutrition Health Institute – free science-based CEUs for nutrition professionals
  • The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health offers a series of free pre-recorded CEU units for healthcare professionals, including one on HDI by Bill Gurley, one on the social regulation of gene expression and another on probiotics.
  • Grassroots Health – here are three free CEU opportunities. These are pre-recorded webinars on sunlight & your health with Dr. Holick (!), vitamin D requirements for pregnancy & lactation, and vitamin D, sunshine and optimal health.
  • American Society for Nutrition offers a number of recorded webinars for CEU credit on their website, including the microbiome webinar series, and a webinar on understanding flavonoids & their role in health. It’s probably worth getting on their email list to find out about the live webinars as well!

A note about limits for certain types of credits

Please note that certain types of CEUs are restricted and can only make up a certain number of your credits. For example, in Maryland the Board of Dietetics states:

Category 4‚ÄĒProfessional Reading, Independent Learning, Study Groups. This category includes formalized professional reading, independent learning, and study groups, which shall be verified by any documentation requested by the Board and may not exceed 20 hours of continuing education credit.

Please note that this limit does not apply to online seminars. Online seminars fall under Category 2- Seminars, Lectures, Journal Clubs. Category 2 does not have a limit.

So essentially the “read an article & answer a few questions” CEUs can only count for 20 of your LDN hours, but attending live webinar/seminar-type events could theoretically count for all of them. I’m not sure about recordings of live seminars, but I would assume that they are also category 2.

Am I missing any continuing education opportunities for nutritionists?

Let me know below what your plans are for obtaining CEUs, and of course please pass along any interesting opportunities that cross your desk.

post last updated: 8/31/17

About Camille Freeman, DCN, RH (she/her)

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and nutritionist specializing in fertility and menstrual health. I run the Monday Mentoring community of practice and also offer continuing education programs for practicing herbalists and nutritionists (Check out this year's Deep Dive!). I'm also a former professor with the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I taught physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating for 17 years. 

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