I've really enjoyed hearing from you that covering this topic is of interest. I wonder if the level of interest has to do with the newness of the holistic nutrition field and the curiosity that surrounds such new things. Meaning, if I had recently become an accountant, people would not have too many questions, we understand what that means already.
Have you read Part One of this series yet? It's a good place to start.
Originally, I thought I would cover both schools that I've attended in Part Two of this series, but I have a feeling this post will be quite lengthy so I'll just cover one at a time.
Today I'll share with you what I can about the first nutrition school I've chosen to attend, Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This isn't to offer a review of the school, but rather to simply share my personal thoughts and experiences.
Institute for Integrative Nutrition
:: contemporary :: new york city :: progressive :: sexy :: confidence building :: sophisticated :: impressive technology :: amazing teachers :: get out what you put in :: inclusive :: supportive :: open-minded :: mostly plant foods :: innovative :: down to earth :: truly holistic :: authentic :: comprehensive :: business preparation :: unconventional :: revolutionary :: professional :: intelligent :: intuitive :: keep it simple :: clean food :: individual needs vary :: experiential :: generous :: lifestyle matters :: great value :: not for everyone :: definitely for me ::
I could go on and on... these are the words and phrases that came to mind as I thought of IIN over one minute or so of typing. Doesn't sound like your typical school, does it? It really isn't, and that can take some people who are used to a mainstream university by surprise.
Institute for Integrative Nutrition is a professional training program that results in certification as a Holistic Health Coach, recognized by The American Association of Drugless Practitioners.
IIN was a great fit for the first part of my journey, but it isn't for everyone.
IIN teaches holistic nutrition by staffing a wide variety of experts in the field, many with contradictory approaches from one another. The remaining curriculum is taught via an online classroom, DVD's, a business "workbook" and an iPod that is loaded with audio/video lecture content (which was wonderful to take in the car and to the gym). I think students enrolling now receive and iPad with all of that content - nice! That is how IIN is... always growing, moving forward, improving.
At Integrative Nutrition, students are taught the important philosophy of remaining open minded about the finer details of nutrition - so much of what we know is ever-evolving, new science is always emerging. One single approach does not best serve everybody. This is not to say their position on healthy eating is glossed over, not at all. IIN has strong views on eating whole, close-to-the-earth foods. They take a stance against the deficiencies in today's modern "food system," factory farming, agri-business, and the (political) document that is our nation's government issued guide to eating.
This is an online school. There are 40 modules (released weekly with the exception of certain holiday breaks and test weeks) over the course of one year. There is a "free" second year to the program, post certification that is called Immersion which takes you deeper and deeper into the vocation of holistic nutrition. This too, is entirely online with optional live workshops. Not many schools (regardless of the field) place such emphasis on actually "going to work" the way IIN does. You should know that this particular focus is unsettling for some people and turns them off.
Why is that?
Many of us are so passionate about nutrition and whole food that we get a little tentative when the talk turns to business and making money (something that was hard for me as a yoga teacher as well), but the reality is, we all have to pay our bills. Money has tremendous energy and stirs up a lot of emotion, especially when it involves something that our soul deeply connects with. It's worth working through those emotions though, because getting paid to do what you truly love is such a blessing.
There are various start dates throughout the year, but you can enroll at any time and receive your books, iPad, online access, etc., and begin immediately with the Fundamentals Program. I was highly impressed with the chance to dig into something right away. For example, I believe I enrolled in school in March and classes didn't officially begin until May, yet I had plenty to do and learn right away. Loved that.
The student website/classroom is incredibly impressive, with content running deeper than you can imagine. So much is there for the person willing to make the most of it.
Requires a great deal of self-discipline.
This is likely true for any distance learning program, perhaps more so with this school. As a student, your greatest accountability is to yourself - the weekly homework assignments are not graded but "sharing" them in the online classroom is encouraged, there are no papers to write, and the tests are simple. (Something I've been honestly critical about with IIN directly when it came time to evaluate and offer feedback at the end of my program.) You are also required to turn in a number of Health History forms that you've completed with other students or people in your own life.
As a student, your work is to read deeply into the online classroom, pour through modules that contain articles, graphs/charts/research/studies, listen to the lectures and watch videos. But there aren't any textbooks to dive into other than the business workbook. This isn't how most of us are used to doing school.
If you're interested in attending IIN, expect it to be unlike any other educational experience you've ever had. I didn't think this was a bad thing.
It is really hard to "fail" at this school. I think the majority of people committed to attending and paying for such a program do put their heart and soul into it, but demonstrating mastery is not an expectation. I wouldn't be surprised if this standard changes in the near future.
Talk about generous! IIN hosts live single and multi-day conferences around the country, free to students and alumni. These events are filled with amazing guest speakers, activities, inspiration, and further training. A great way to stay fresh, focused and at the forefront of your field.
Focus on Health Coaching model.
The primary focus of IIN's professional training is the clinical practice of Health Coaching.
The premise of private practice as a Health Coach generally includes working with individuals or groups in a multi-month program of nutrition, lifestyle, and wellness counseling. Coaches are highly trained to support and educate people along this path, but there are other methods of reaching people that may be a more affordable option to the general public. Some insurance companies are beginning to cover Health Coach services, but it is not the norm yet. Many people simply cannot afford a $1,200 six month program. Those that can enter this kind of program will truly have one of the most profound experiences of their lives, but not everyone will be able to take advantage of that.
Hopefully, as more insurance companies cover this preventative service, as they should, more people will benefit.
If you are planning to enter this field, do allow yourself to think outside the box.
High level of business training.
I've already touched on this above, but it is worth focusing on further. You will not leave IIN wondering how on earth to use this degree in the work force. Many of us know people with degrees that don't translate well to an actual job, especially in the new job climate we live in. Education, as well as vocational training and application are essential. IIN really nails this.
As I mentioned above, the emphasis on business can feel a little off putting for some, it was for me at first too. In the end, I found it worthwhile to work through that energy, using it to further develop myself and move forward.
Integrative Nutrition is always full of surprises. Little things - like sending you a new calendar at the holidays (seriously the most beautiful calendar I've ever owned), a package of meaningful swag (books, reusable shopping bags, aromatherapy charts, and lavender pillows) as a thank you for enrolling.
An amazing referral program! This really blew my mind, and I did experience this first hand, twice. If someone signed up and offered my name during their registration process, I received a check for $500! No questions, simple as can be, a gift of thanks.
If you're looking for an amazing experience and valuable training from a school that thinks outside the box, IIN might be the right fit for you. It was for me.
I'm grateful for the life changing experience and important piece to my education.
In my next post, I'll share about the school I am currently attending (which probably won't be as long because my time there is not complete), Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
Please remember that what I've mentioned here is simply a collection of my own thoughts and experiences. Each person has his or her unique goals and needs.
As always, if I didn't cover something you have a question about, please ask. I'll do my best to answer.
Much love to each of you, xo.