Frequently Asked Questions from Prospective Health Students

1. I want to work as a nutritionist, what should I study?

At the time of writing, there is no formal, established recognition system for Nutritionists does not exist in Australia and this is the case in many other countries. As with oter industries facing this same problem (complementary medicine disciplines for example) professionals have sought to establish professional bodies to set their own standards for qualifications. In this way, membership to the bodies shows that a professional has studied a significant course of study - prospective clients can find out what minimum standards members have and this gives them confidence.

So, if there is no formal system, cant anyone just start working as a nutritionist? In theory this is actually correct. However, if you are attending a job interview with no qualifications or experience you obviously wont get the job. If you start your own business, you will need indemnity insurance. Without qualifications and training no insurance company will take the risk.

However, there is a wide scope of study options available and the options can be daunting. It is best to sit down and think about exactly what sort of service you want to provide. Do you want to counsel people about nutrition and weight loss? Our certificate in Nutritional Counselling would be a good option for this sort of career. Do you want professional body membership? Our Proficiency Award 4 in Functional Nutrition delivered in conjunction with Health Schools Australia is the ideal choice as you can join the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. Perhaps you want to add to existing fitness qualifications, or step up the ladder in the food service industry. Our Proficiency Award in Nutrition is the perfect option.

As with all our subject areas, student interested in nutrition can consult with one of our academics to select modules that bet suit their needs. These can then be combined into a tailored course of study for you! Why not add a Life Coaching module? Or, aromatherapy? You can take on additional physiology modules, biochemistry or add a small business or consultancy module if you are planning to start your own nutritional consultancy company.

If you are unsure, you are always welcome to contact a tutor for further advice, information and assistance. We are available by phone, fax and email Monday - Friday.

2. Dietician, nutritionist, isnt it all just the same thing?

The short answer is no. Of course we deal with students all over the world and in some places you may be able to undertake our courses and practise as a Dietician, but in Australia and many other countries this is not the case. The Dieticians Association of Australia is the dieticians professional body in Australia and sets minimum requirements of a Bachelors Degree (most are 4 years) or a suitable post graduate qualification. Dieticians are most commonly employed in the hospital system whereas most nutritionists are in smaller practises, attached to gyms, fitness or sporting clubs. Many work within the Complementary Medicine field and others are employed by health food companies or weight loss companies.

The basic difference is that dieticians are generally dealing with people who are quite unwell. They need to be trained to recognise, understand and treat often complex diseases, with treatment plans often including invasive surgical procedures. They work in close liason with other medical professionals in an allopathic medical setting. Naturopaths on the other hand, tend to work with people incorporating a change in diet into an overall plan of lifestyle and health improvement. You may deal with obese patients, or those with chronic illnesses such as celiac disease, irritable bowel disease of food intolerances/allergies. While the need for very high level pathophysiology skills is not as great, be wary of course that offer you a quick, cheap course. If you are to understand the way in which the body uses the nutrients we eat, it is logical that you need to study both anatomy and physiology, cellular processes, metabolic biochemistry, the digestive and renal systems as well as nutrition. If you want a high level qualification in Nutrition, including pathophysiology, disorder profiles and clinical practise these are all included in the Proficiency Award 4 course.

3. I need a flexible study option that I can use to enter university at a later time, will your courses give me credit?

There are two ways in which recognition of prior learning (RPL) also known as credit or advanced standing work. Firstly, some institutions have pre-arranged advanced standings. This means that a students starting with one institution is guaranteed because of a standing arrangement between the institutions that they will get full credit when they move on to the second institution. At ACS we have formal arrangements with our affiliate Warnborough College in the UK. Our students can upgrade to degree and even post graduate courses with Warnborough in many areas.

The second process, and by far the most common process is individual assessment. This is where a prospective student approaches a university with copies and information on their previous study and an academic officer determines what university subjects can be credited. If you are thinking about starting small with ACS and then upgrading to a university degree this is possible. However, the best advice we can give you is to be proactive. Determine the university you wish to study with. Contact them and ask about their RPL procedures and requirements. We can always provide course outlines to assist you. We aim to provide first year university level courses, so there is a good chance you will receive some credit. However, some universities will not have this process at all and will not consider anyone who has studied at institutions they do not have formal arrangements with.

It is important to remember that even if you don't get advanced standing, by doing some preliminary study you will make your university studies much easier. You will be familiar with terminology, and information and this will boost your confidence and ease you into university study. Studying with ACS you will have unlimited tutor access, so you will get a comprehensive learning experience. We have had students complete our courses in order to prepare for paramedic work, some have gone on to do nursing degrees and others have progressed through our Proficiency Award 1 in Natural Health onto an Proficiency Award 4 and then to a degree.

 What Should You Study?

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