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Enhancing Your Nursing Practice: Comparing the Nutrition for Nurses™ & Functional Medicine for Nurses™ Courses

As nurses, continuous learning is essential to provide the best possible care for our patients. I am the course creator and lead faculty for the Functional Medicine for Nurses™ course, which launched in January 2024. It has rapidly grown in popularity and become the go-to functional medicine course for nurses looking to build a strong foundation in the healing art of functional medicine.

Through my years in the holistic nursing world, I have realized more and more the significant role that nutrition plays in our health story, and I recently developed a second course offering, Nutrition for Nurses™: A Holistic Approach, also taught through the Integrative Nurse Coach® Academy in partnership with the Institute for Functional Medicine. This new course is a deep dive into evidence-based guidance for supporting our patients with nutrition education. 

Two questions come up often when comparing the Nutrition for Nurses™ course to the Functional Medicine for Nurses™ course: 

  1. What is the difference between the two courses?

  2. Which course should I take first? Both are continuing education courses that offer valuable insights and skills, but they have distinct focuses and benefits. 

Here’s a closer look to help you decide which course might be the best fit for you to take first—and why you might want to take both.

Nutrition for Nurses™: A Holistic Approach

The Nutrition for Nurse™ course is designed to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the role nutrition plays in overall health. This course covers:

  1. Nutritional Science Fundamentals: You’ll learn about macronutrients, micronutrients, and how they impact bodily functions.

  2. Dietary Assessments: Practical tools and techniques to assess and improve your patients’ dietary habits.

  3. Nutritional Interventions: Evidence-based strategies to address common health issues through dietary changes.

  4. Patient Education: Effective methods to educate and support patients in making sustainable nutritional choices.

In my previous experience teaching nutrition to nurses in a college setting, I often felt that the course lacked the depth necessary to significantly impact patient care and provide clear, actionable guidance with the support of evidence-based, current research. Since my own journey in nutrition before and during nursing school in the early 2000s, nutrition research has advanced significantly, and dietary recommendations have evolved considerably as well. Similar to me, many nurses may find that the nutrition education they received in college is outdated and insufficient for today’s healthcare challenges. 

The Nutrition for Nurses™ course combines my years of additional education into this important topic and addresses these gaps by offering a comprehensive, up-to-date curriculum designed to empower nurses with the latest knowledge and practical skills to make a real difference in their patients’ health outcomes.

This course is perfect if you’re looking to enhance your knowledge of nutrition and its direct impact on health outcomes. It equips you with the tools to provide informed education to support your patients in achieving better health outcomes through nutrition. Of course, nurses are typically restricted in their scope of practice from “prescribing” diets for their patients, but we are absolutely the perfect partners to EDUCATE patients on the role nutrition plays in their health story. Nursing scope of practice related specifically to nutrition is also addressed in the course. 

My goal in creating this course was to make it affordable and easy to fit into a busy schedule so that it would be accessible to as many nurses as possible. To achieve this, the course is comprised of 15 modules that nurses have up to one year to complete at their own pace. As a bonus, you will be invited to one year of monthly webinars hosted by course faculty and often featuring special guest speakers. Students are able to submit suggestions for topics for upcoming webinars.

Learn More about Nutrition for Nurses

Functional Medicine for Nurses™: A Root Cause Approach to Health & Healing

Because nutrition is often a major component of a patient’s health story, nutrition is a topic in the Functional Medicine for Nurses™ course, but this course goes well beyond nutrition with a deep dive into the world of functional health and wellness. This course focuses on:

  1. Root Cause Analysis: Understanding and addressing the underlying causes of disease rather than just treating symptoms.

  2. Holistic Health Assessment: Evaluating the interconnected systems of the body, mind, and environment.

  3. Personalized Care Plans: Creating individualized health plans based on genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

This course is ideal if you’re interested in a more holistic, patient-centered approach to healthcare. It helps you develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of health and disease, enabling you to create personalized care plans that address the root causes of health issues. 

It is a twelve-week course that I facilitate. Four live sessions connect participants with peers during the course, and you can watch recordings later if you cannot attend live. Students report many benefits to attending these sessions, but the primary benefit is discussing the experience of learning and using functional medicine with other, like-minded nurses and nurse practitioners.

Nutrition or Functional Medicine: Which Course to Take First?

While both courses help you develop practical skills that you can immediately implement in your practice, deciding which course to take first depends on your current knowledge, interests, and career goals. 

Start with Nutrition for Nurses™ if…

  • you want to build a strong foundation in evidence-based nutrition science and apply this knowledge directly to patient care.

  • your upcoming schedule requires more flexibility, as this course is self-paced. You have one year to complete the course, so you can work on course material as time permits.

  • you would like to attend the bonus monthly webinars for twelve months to enhance your learning. You are also welcome to watch the recordings if you cannot attend the live webinar.

Begin with Functional Medicine for Nurses™ if…

  • you’re interested in a comprehensive approach to healthcare that goes beyond nutrition. 

  • you’re looking to expand your understanding of holistic health and develop skills in creating personalized care plans.

  • you’ve been looking for a different way to approach your patients’ health concerns, because functional medicine is all about identifying and addressing the root cause of health concerns.

  • you’re looking for a structured course to help you build a solid foundation in functional medicine. This course is taught in twelve-week long cohorts of RNs and NPs, led by me.

  • you’re looking to connect with like-minded, holistic nurses and nurse practitioners. Students and faculty meet four times during the course via Zoom, and you can attend these meetings live or watch the recordings at a later date.

Why Take Both Courses?

Both courses complement each other beautifully. Nutrition is a fundamental aspect of functional medicine, and having a solid understanding of nutrition can enhance your ability to apply functional medicine principles effectively. By taking both courses, you’ll gain a well-rounded perspective on health and wellness, empowering you to provide more comprehensive and effective care for your patients. Additionally, both courses are taught in partnership with the Institute for Functional Medicine, so you will enjoy various resources and benefits that we have curated in partnership with them.

Whether you start with the Nutrition for Nurses™ course or the Functional Medicine for Nurses™ course, you’ll be taking a significant step towards enhancing your practice and improving patient outcomes. Each course offers unique benefits, and together, they provide a robust foundation for holistic, patient-centered care.

This and other holistic nursing blogs are also posted on the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy blog page:


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