When I qualified as a Nutritional Therapist, like many graduates, I was concerned that I didn’t have nearly enough experience or knowledge to get out there and practice on my own (despite 3 years of study and a science degree behind me!). My lack of confidence made me realise that in most professions one works as an intern or a junior straight after graduation, making many mistakes, but gaining valuable and supported experience working alongside senior colleagues who can guide you through. This is normal practice in most healthcare professions and I was worried that I might harm someone by going out there and practising on my own without such guidance. I almost decided not to set up in practice.
At the time, a friend had just started her 3 year training programme in clinical psychology, and even in her first year of training I was surprised to hear that she was seeing clients on her own. She was in a room with the client, making decisions on the spot, responding to their comments and helping them to move forward. However, she was totally supported in this process, as she would go over with her supervisor exactly what had been discussed with her clients and receive feedback. She said she made many mistakes, but her supervisor picked them up during their discussions, allowing her to learn from them and move forward. Realising that I could set up a similar supportive environment for myself through working with a Nutritional Therapy mentor was when I decided to take the steps to set up my own practice.
Like my friend, I made lots of mistakes initially. It was a little frightening when I realised that one of my supplement recommendations was contraindicated with a client’s medication and another client spent €90 on a test that shed very little light on the case. However, from working with a mentor those mistakes were identified, discussed and I didn’t make them again! The more and more I practiced, the more my confidence grew and I realised that this was the only way forward. No matter how much knowledge you have, confidence and clinical skills will only develop through putting it into practice.
To help graduates take that leap into Nutritional Therapy practice the Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) has developed a mentoring scheme for Nutritional Therapy graduates from any college who would like the support and guidance whilst they gain confidence in their clinical skills.
The mentoring scheme is designed to:
We Nutritional Therapists have put a lot of time and effort into our training and as a result we have the potential to make a big impact on many of our clients health. Although practicing can be a little draining at times, it is also really exciting, fulfilling and fun. I would encourage any of you who are deliberating on whether to set up a practice to really go for it and to consider the IHS mentoring scheme as a support network. Don’t let a lack of confidence let you forget that running a successful Nutritional Therapy practice is challenging but totally possible. Getting advice and guidance from those who have more experience can be the key to taking the step to set up or continue a successful practice.
If you would like more information on the IHS mentoring scheme please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring me on 087 646 4525
NEW IHS Mentoring Scheme for Nutritional Therapists – Supporting you Towards a Successful Practice by Moira Browne