Anyone done NIWH Whole Health Educator program?

Specialties Holistic


Has anyone completed (or know anything about) the National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH) Whole Health Educator for Nurses program? If so, have you become a Certified Holistic Nurse? What's the verdict? I'm trying to learn if it would be helpful to my career. I believe the education itself will be very valuable for the knowledge itself, and to help patients, but I'm asking more in terms of credentials, job obtainment and career advancement. The course is not free, so I'm thinking of payback in terms of the practical, realistic stuff.

Also, I'm trying to learn about coaching options independent from a hospital setting. Is it possible to teach classes or do one on one counseling with this certification. What would be the legalities, and how does it work with an RN scope of practice? Does anybody have any experience with this?

Thanks for any input!

Specializes in Nursing Education, Med-Surg, Home Health, Travel.

Also, I was concerned about the credibility of the program; there are a lot of scams out there, as I'm sure you all know! NIWH is part of the Better Business Bureau though, here's the program overview on the BBB site: National Institute of Whole Health Review - EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH in Wellesley, MA - BBB Business Review - BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont

Specializes in Nursing Education, Med-Surg, Home Health, Travel.

Which program did you take HealthPromotingRN? The Whole Health Nutrition Educator program?

Hi, I took the National Institute of Whole Health's program for nurses which gives you a Certificate as a "Whole Health Educator." I completed all of the 26 core courses and took the final exam (which took me 4 hours- similar to the NCLEX for nurses). I still have the case studies and a final paper to write, but I decided not to finish those and will just take the CEU's I've earned thus far.

I don't feel the nutrition portion of this program was in alignment with the enormous amount of evidence that shows a whole foods, plant-based diet is best for optimal health. Therefore, I signed up for the Wellness Forum Institute for Health's Nutrition Educator program, which will give me a Dipolma in Nutrition Education and is based on non-biased research. So far I've taken their summer long class called Diet & Lifestyle Intervention, which was excellent. I'm now finishing a class called Nutrition and Obesity. I can't say enough good things about this program (Wellness Forum). I definitely found what I was looking for in regards to nutrition education. I wish I would have found their program first so I didn't spend $5,000+ on NIWH's program, which didn't give me what I was looking for.

Specializes in Nursing Education, Med-Surg, Home Health, Travel.

Hate to hear that NIWH didn't work is quite expensive. It looked promising though! Glad I got your input because I'm looking for a similar program. I am an advocate for a whole foods plant based diet, and wanted a program that highlighted that, but also mentioned other diets in a non-biased way. That way we can talk about them accurately and provide clients with information to help them make the best decision for them; hopefully the WFPB option :) Thanks again for your response!

HealthPromotingRN, could you give some more feedback on the Wellness Forum Institute's program? Is it offered online?

Hi, the Wellness Forum program is taught in a unique way- by conference call. Basically, you call in to a certain number during the designated class time and enter a password to enter the conference call. Each call lasts about 2-3 hours. If you miss a class, you can listen to a recording of the class the next day when the instructor gives you the callback information via email.

I really like this way of learning because the instructor emails you the class powerpoint presentation and other materials that you use to go along with the live call lecture. Some of the students in my class are doctors, nurses, personal trainers, dieticians, chefs and non-health professionals who just want an evidenced-based education in nutrition and wellness. Some of the guest instructors have been Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall and many others who are very credible experts in their field and more importantly, who aren't influenced by bogus research or fad diet claims. I am so grateful I found this program!!

I agree- it's so important not to have bias and that seems to be the philosophy at Wellness Forum so far. They focus on the "weight of the evidence" when it comes to dietary patterns and as of now that clearly shows the WFPB diet is superior for optimal health and disease prevention.

The program teaches you how to review studies so you can determine which are biased, poorly designed, have erroneous claims, etc. I think this is so valuable when it comes to nutrition because new claims are made every day in the media and it confuses people! I'm glad this program is teaching me how to weed through the hype and get to the information that counts! :)

Hello All… I just wanted to toss my two cents in regarding the programs at NIWH. I am a current student in the NIWH program & I just wanted to say that I am somewhat bothered :no: by the negative opinions that are being given regarding the program. I have a number of years in the medical and Pharma clinical trial fields, and I hold a Master's from . As I have found over the years of working in different environments with Nurses at all stages of their careers… We are ALL looking for something different. Not every program is going to "fit" everyone's needs… No need to be negative… if something is not the right fit.

That being said… The Programs at NIWH are University Master level courses, and have exceeded my expectations… :up:

Yes, they are time consuming, but we are told that before we ever pay a dime for the Program. We all know that ANY Master's level program worth its salt is going to be time consuming!

Yes, the program is fairly expensive… especially if you look at it compared to less accredited programs… I will list a few of the reasons for the higher price:

1) These modules are equivalent to a University's Master level coursework.

2) NIWH is Nationally accredited by over a dozen organizations.

3) Through NIWH we are connected to many Professional organizations as well.

4) NIWH as an agreement with the Health Sciences Institute for those completing the Program to also qualify as Chronic Care Providers. Once this has been completed… And you are gonna LOVE this…

5) We can then apply for an NPI number!! Can ANY of the "OTHER" programs give you that…??? This is the sort of sincere wish to see their Students succeed after completion of the coursework, that NIWH has at its heart.

6) The videos we view for each of the Course modules is streamed video… and that costs a lot of money for the program to provide.

The main objective at NIWH is to give us a "Whole Person" prospective, an epidemiological prospective, and to help us to be able to step back from the "Instructor role" and into the "Educator role". We learn to "invite" our patients and clients into taking control of their own health, thru giving them the needed education on a health or disease related topic and allowing them to "participate" to find the best treatment plan that will work for them and where they are in their life. And as Nurses, you know that when a patient takes ownership of their treatment… that they will stick to the program.

Regarding some of the other comments regarding the Nutritional side of the Program…

1) We are taught the epidemiology of nutrition… we are given the "big picture" of nutrition. We are NOT taught about the fad diets. Anyone can go online & find 50 fads diets and not pay anyone a single cent for that knowledge, or buy a book…

2) We are not taught any one philosophy of the proper way to eat… We are given many prospectives, because if we are going to be successful in our careers, we will be dealing with many different patient backgrounds.

3) NIWH is NOT training Nurses to become Nutritionists… because a Nurse cannot "practice" as a Nutritionist without further University education and licenses.

One last comment I would like to cover, the statement that we have to purchase the books of the Speakers from the videos… This is an incorrect statement. We are not ask to buy these books. We are given a suggested reading list, but we are told that ALL of the information we will need to complete each module assignment is provided in either the video or the handouts for that module. I have found this to be true in the coursework I have completed.

I appreciate the time anyone has spent to read this far. And if you have read this far, I would "invite" you to go to the NIWH website and check out the samples of the coursework. Better yet… call NIWH and make an appointment to speak with Dr. Georgianna Donadio the Director of the program… Yes, SHE will be glad to discuss the programs with you and how your career could benefit from an NIWH certificate.

Well, that's all for now… I have to get back to studying…

Hi all, I also would like to chime in about the NIWH program. I have finished my coursework and am doing my case studies now. I agree with TwoDreams comments completely and therefore won't go into the same detail. The program is very clear that this is not a nutrition program, it is a wholehealth program and it is illegal for anyone doing nutrition consulting without a nutrition degree and license. There are so many competing theories about diets with rabid followers on both sides therefore, the program presents what the research does say and how that fits into the whole person perspective. I am shocked actually by the comments of HealthPromotingRN that we didn't learn that a whole foods based diet was superior - that was by far the biggest message of the program! The program is careful not to advocate for either a vegetarian or omnivorous diet but presents information on both and potential issues with both DEPENDING on the INDIVIDUAL. But what we did learn about was why whole foods are so important to how the body functions. More importantly, we learned that there is so much more to nourishing an individual than the foods that are eaten, for if one only focuses on that, you are missing the whole point of a holistic or whole person perspective. I think the Behavioral Engagement model of behavior change is a powerful tool for interacting with clients. You can find the book on Amazon, a free chapter is available to read. Furthermore, there are multiple opportunities upon finishing the program for additional certifications if you feel that is needed. I have already found work partnering with a physical therapist and have many people interested in working with me privately. The work involved is worth it - the human body, mind and spirit are so amazing and all related but it takes a good base of knowledge of how all those systems work to see how they are all connected. I am grateful for all the knowledge I have learned and will apply it to my clients, myself and my family.

I have been a frequent visitor to ALLNURSES.COM website and have found this forum to be helpful to me on many various topics. Most recently, I have read a number of inaccurate and critical comments re: The National Institute of Whole Health and felt compelled to respond. As a recent student of The NIWH’s Whole Health Nurse Educator and Coach Program, I want to post an honest and individual perspective as it relates to the curriculum and it’s relativeness to my nursing practice.

I have been a nurse for over 20 years and during this time I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful clients and their families. Over the course of my nursing career, I have witnessed over and over again patients “non-compliance” with recommended treatments and I have seen lifestyle behaviors as being one of the most prevalent factors as it relates to their overall health and disease. Yet despite all of the available health information geared at telling people how to improve their health, I continued to witness people’s inability to make the significant lifestyle changes needed to make these improvements. As a result, I was becoming disillusioned with my nursing practice and was actually exploring other career options.

Being a self-avowed “health-nut” and health education patient advocate, I began looking into various programs. I did extensive research on various degree and certification programs and found many excellent programs aimed at making me an expert in diet, nutrition and exercise. And while I felt that these programs were very legitimate and that they would deliver on their promise I was hesitant to commit.

About two years ago, I came across the website for NIWH. Reading through its home page, I came across their philosophy statement which states in part, “…it becomes appropriate to approach health care from a whole person oriented philosophy which is educational, focused on disease prevention and, to the extent possible, fully engages the participation of individuals in their health recovery process”. For some reason this statement, along with their mission statement and goals resonated with me and I enrolled.

Going through the program, I found the curriculum to be insightful, challenging and evidenced based. While some of the information was a much needed refresher, the way it was presented, encouraging me to look at health and wellness in a holistic approach, was quiet unique. The curriculum includes 24 core courses which includes video streamed lectures, course handouts and evidenced based research articles. And while each course has a suggested book list, it is not required. I did buy many of the suggested books and found that while it did enhance the course material, it was not necessary in order to complete course assignments and the final exam.

For me, one of the most beneficial parts of the curriculum was the Behavioral Engagement with Pure Presence portion of the program. In a nutshell, it teaches a peer-counseling model of education that is client centered and that helps the client to identify for themselves their health information needs and goals. In this way, clients feel empowered to make decisions regarding their health and are able to connect emotionally with the information in order to make sustainable lifestyle choices. As a result, I have found myself really listening to my clients as it relates to their health care needs, goals and strategies and have witnessed first hand them feeling valued and respected in their choices and decisions.

In closing, I strongly encourage any nurse who wishes to help their clients to become an “expert” in their own health care to do their own research and visit the NIWH website. I can honestly say that taking this program has positively changed the way I interact with clients and their families in the delivery of my nursing care, as well as my personal life and relationships.

Can truly relate to what HealthPromotingRN and vanurse 1022 have expressed-a profound desire to obtain the most credible and up-to-date information on nutrition. There was a time, when in my mind, the answer to true health and longevity was intrinsically connected to the whole foods plant based diet that is often revered as the “end all, be all” solution to achieving sound health; throw in 30-40 minutes of exercise daily and all is good. I amassed endless credentials in the field of nursing, health education, biofeedback methods, smoking cessation counseling, health realization, you name it…..and the list goes on and on! Sadly, I hung on to the notion that, knowing all the latest research, every detail about each and every vitamin and mineral discovered - and those that were on the verge of being discovered - would somehow arm me with the knowledge essential to be able to, as vanurse suggest, “talk about them accurately and provide clients with information to help them make the best decision for them.”

While my intentions were honorable - as are yours - I soon discovered that they were seriously misguided. Amongst many of the priceless lessons I learned after becoming a student at the National Institute of Whole Health was, “NOT getting caught up in the minutiae of things.” Others have expressed their thoughts on this site over the past couple of days and weeks - both positive and negative - and as we say here in the inner city, “it’s all good” we are all entitled to our opinion. A robust dialogue and/or debate in the spirit of enlightenment have their rightful place here. Moreover, my sentiments, and much of what I experienced as a student at NIWH has already been expressed by others. The science is solid, the philosophy is genuine and tightly woven into the curriculum and, upon graduating from the program, I realized that the skills and knowledge gained prepared me well for establishing the type of meaningful relationships that are crucial to facilitating the process of others toward whole health in a manner that is respectful, doable and helps restore hope.

Ultimately, when all is said and done, there is no program out there that has all bases covered and is completely “un-biased,” this is a great myth. No matter how prestigious the program; the speed and sophistication of technology will always be steps ahead so, “buyer beware,” don’t believe all the hype. Often times all that is needed is for us to simply get out of our own way and miraculous things happen.

As a nurse who has functioned primarily in the role of health educator in the inner city (very tough neighborhood) for almost 20 years, I often felt hopeless to effect change in the lives of many who had given-up on themselves. All of my education and training has served its purpose in my life however; my experience at NIWH is where I gained much of the clarity which today, enables me to face life with equanimity-certainly worth the $5,000 bucks! To vanurse 1022 I say, trust your instincts, if “It looked promising” as you stated, perhaps your inner voice of wisdom is talking to you. Lastly, Confucius wisely stated that “to put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

Peace and Blessings

As a graduate of the NIWH Whole Health Educator for Nurses program and now serving as an Academic Adviser for NIWH, I would like to share a few of my thoughts. I concur with previous comments that this is NOT a nutrition program, but rather a Whole Health focused education program. The nutritional aspect is just one piece contributing to a person's health and well-being. Someone may have a great diet, but if they are living in emotional, environmental, physical and/or spiritual dysfunction, they are most likely not in good health and enjoying a sense of well-being. Additionally, for those considering "nutritional" programs, please know that in some states one must be a registered dietitian to provide nutritional counseling.

The whole health information I personally gained through the program not only put me on a path to better health (the whole foods emphasis helped me to lose 20lbs), but the program philosophy helped shift my view of life to a broader perspective. This program is not a simple focus on physical health. If you are interested in acquiring only nutritional education, this program is probably not for you. It is a well-rounded program with integrity that demonstrates how "everything is connected to everything." While a student in the program, I could hardly wait to proceed to the next module in the curriculum. With each module, I could see the changes occurring in my whole health as a result of what I was learning. Upon completing the program, I felt that even if I never pursued anything career-wise with the information, it was money well spent towards my own personal well-being. Now, serving as an Academic Adviser, I hear students frequently state how they can't wait to share the information they are learning with everyone they know. NIWH has been propelling the vision of whole person care since 1977. In my honest and humble opinion, it is a solid program that is on the forefront of the many changes occurring in healthcare.

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