What happened? The Brief.
Your right to see the nutrition professional of your choice in North Carolina and other states is unfairly limited.
On April 20, 2011 the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition denied Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, CHN the right to practice as a nutritionist in North Carolina.
In about 35 states, qualified nutritionists are being denied their right to practice because of restrictive laws. These laws were written by dietitians, for dietitians, and in many cases administered by dietitians. These laws limit the public’s right to choose the type of nutritionist they want to see and restrain trade. They also deny right to livelihood to people who are well-trained in the field of nutrition.
Who is Liz Lipski?
- PhD in Clinical Nutrition from the Union Institute
- MS in Nutrition from Donsbach University
- Board certified in Clinical Nutrition (CCN) by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board, Dallas, TX.
- Board certified in Holistic Nutrition (CHN) by the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board, Rancho Cordova, CA.
- Director of Doctoral Studies & Educational Director (in nutrition) at Hawthorn University
- Faculty at Saybrook University
- Faculty at the Institute For Functional Medicine
- Faculty at the Autism Research Institute (formerly known as DAN!)
- Digestive Wellness, the 4th edition is due for publication Sept 2011 (considered a classic in the field of nutrition)
- Digestive Wellness for Children
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Numerous other publications
You can find out much more about Dr. Lipski at her website Innovative Healing. See the About Liz section on the right.
With 30 years of clinical nutrition practice, she currently spends about 80% of her time in professional development, training MDs, dietitians, nutritionists, and other health care professionals to use clinical nutrition in their practices.
Yet, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition refused to license Dr. Lipski in 2003 and now again in 2011. Why? Because she lacks the “minimum course requirements.” In other words, Dr. Lipski fails to meet requirements that graduates with a BS in dietetics and 500 hours of internship do. The reason is that the specific requirements for licensing are the same as a BA in dietetics. Since Dr. Lipski is a Nutritionist and not a Dietitian, she has a different educational background, and a different scope of practice. The rules and regulations of the NC licensing board do not recognize this.
Like the residents of every state, North Carolinians need access to a wide range of health expertise. It is unfortunate for the people of our state that a professional, nationally known for her outstanding work in the field of nutrition, has repeatedly been denied the opportunity to practice here.
Informal Meeting with the North Carolina Licensing Board
On May 25th Liz Lipski, her husband and business manager Chris Dennen, and her attorney had an informal meeting with the Executive Director, two board members and their lawyer. The board did not have to grant this meeting and the atmosphere was respectful and professional.
They were hopeful that the licensing issue would be resolved in Liz’s favor, and had spent many hours preparing to demonstrate her competence. Liz’s lawyer had also spent significant time in helping prepare. Once the meeting began it quickly became apparent that the law was written, and is interpreted, in such a restrictive way that 95% of Liz’s experience and credentials could not be used to satisfy the licensing requirements.
Here are some of Liz’s credentials that could not be used:
- Master’s degree in nutrition
- Two years of professional internship
- 30 years of professional practice
- National board certification as a Clinical Nutritionist
- National board certification as a Holistic Nutritionist
- Nutrition faculty positions at three universities and two professional institutes
- All of the nutrition courses she designed
- All of the books and publications she has written
- All of the nutrition courses she teaches, including those awarded CEUs by the ADA
After meeting for two hours it was clear that in order to be licensed in North Carolina, Liz would have to return to school at the undergraduate level, for probably several semesters. Liz, Chris, and attorney adjourned the meeting and decided not to formally appeal the board’s decision.
Epilog from Chris
We quickly decided to sell our house and move to a state where Liz can legally practice as a nutritionist. The ADA has been skillful in creating licensing requirements that legally prevent highly qualified nutrition professionals from practicing in North Carolina. We decided to move to Atlanta where I have accepted a job as the national sales manager for a top clinical laboratory. Liz will move her practice into one of Atlanta’s outstanding functional medicine clinics, which will give her more time to write, teach, and develop new ventures.
The board’s decision has not hurt us. However, the state of North Carolina has not fared so well. Not only have the citizens been deprived direct access to a top nutrition clinician, but Liz’s company Innovative Healing Inc. is a substantial small employer. During her eight year stay in North Carolina, Innovative Healing:
In addition, I am a stock market trader who also generates significant income.
This business, and the revenue both Liz and I generate, will now go to Georgia.
The day after the informal board meeting Liz heard from a colleague who teaches nutrition at Virginia Tech. She was planning to move to North Carolina and bring her practice. She has now changed her plans and will move her nutrition consulting business to a more favorable state. Another out of state nutrition professional made a similar comment the very next day.
As Liz and I begin a new adventure, we leave it to the North Carolina Governor and legislators to decide if the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is benefiting the citizens of the state.
2013 Update: We have moved to Maryland as Liz is now the Academic Director of Nutrition and Integrative Health Programs at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She has also obtained a third board certification as a Nutrition Specialist (CNS) which automatically qualifies her to be licensed in 12 states, but not North Carolina.
She now devotes herself full time to preparing the next generation of nutritionists and helping current health practitioners use clinical nutrition. She does this by speaking at conferences throughout the year and offering private mentoring groups (www.ClinicalNutritionMentoring.com) and advanced nutrition forums (www.ClinicalNutritionForum.com).
The Source of the Problem
In 1991 the American Dietetic Association (ADA) proposed a law to govern who could practice as a Nutritionist in North Carolina. They then lobbied the legislature to adopt the law, which they did. This law is known as the Dietetics/Nutrition Practice Act. Members of the ADA then proposed the rules and regulations for the enforcement of the law.
To this day the board overseeing the enforcement of the Dietetics/Nutrition Practice Act is mostly made up of Dietitians. In fact, the new incoming national ADA President, Sylvia Escott-Stump, is a member of the NC Board.
Qualified nutrition professionals who are not Dietitians have been prevented from practicing in North Carolina for more twenty years.
Under current law, the following qualified nutrition professionals can be denied licensure in North Carolina:
For example, in our state a 22 year old with a basic bachelor’s degree in Dietetics is qualified to practice as a Nutritionist, while highly qualified nutrition professionals with masters and doctorates degrees are not.
- CCNs – Nationally board certified by The International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists (IAACN) as Certified Clinical Nutritionists
- CHNs - Nationally board certified by The National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) as Certified Holistic Nutritionists
- CNSs - Nationally board certified by The Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) as Certified Nutrition Specialists
- Graduates in nutrition or related fields, from accredited colleges and universities throughout the United States, where graduates have not had courses in food services and who have not completed an internship in dietetics.
Who does this serve? Clearly not the people of North Carolina.
Fortunately, this problem can be addressed without cost to the state. We are working to find solutions that will benefit everyone. See the What You Can Do section for the latest details.