Sunday, June 14, 2009


Yesterday I went to an all day training to be certified as a SilverSneakers instructor. Since I don't think that it's possible to fail, I guess I passed the course. I can now teach classes that are branded with the SilverSneakers label.

I think this is an interesting process. I have all but a PhD in exercise science, yet I had to take this class to be able to teach a senior exercise class. Does anyone else see some irony in that? I feel qualified to help create the SilverSneakers program, yet I have to take a class to teach it. I'm really not bitter and I actually don't feel like I should be teaching the classes anyway. I have all the knowledge that I need to teach, but I lack rhythm. Apparently rhythm is important if you are going to teach an exercise class to music.

Anyway, the point that I want to make goes well beyond SilverSneakers. My master's degree was an exercise physiology, nutrition blend. I was actually only a couple classes short of a combined degree. I opted not to take the classes because it would have prolonged my time there and it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Taking the classes and then pursuing a RD would have been beneficial, but it requires a long unpaid internship that was not feasible with a family. So I have more bookwork education than most dietitians, although I am lacking the internship (and that certainly is important), yet I am not able to give nutritional counseling because of liability concerns.

I had a client at my health club who had blood sugar levels that would skyrocket after exercise. She says that it baffled her doctors and I found the cause. That is more specifically my area of expertise than most doctors are educated. Yet, I can't provide council or advice because I'm not an MD and I don't have the appropriate certifications. It's a liability issue.

I understand the need for certifications, but frankly, I think they are absurd. It is as if our society encourages people not to think for themselves. You have to go to an "expert". But I am an expert in some fields, except I haven't paid the money to get the certifications that "prove" that I'm an expert.

Therein lies the basis of certifications. it's all about generating money. Before yesterday I knew a lot about exercise in seniors and I knew that I didn't have any rhythm. After paying money to take an 8-hour course I didn't learn anything new about exercise in seniors and I still don't have rhythm. The only thing that has changed is that I have less money and they have more money, therefore I am highly qualified to teach a class that I wasn't qualified to teach before.

Same thing goes with the RD. I was unwilling to provide free labor for the beginning couple of months of my practical learning, therefore I am not qualified to be a dietitian. Honestly, I feel that my knowledge base is insufficient to provide in depth nutrition counseling, but I know my weaknesses and I know that I could obtain the needed information without doing an unpaid internship. I will never by an RD without giving them that money.

I by no means think that I have the appropriate education to be a medical doctor, but there are areas in which I have done more study than most family practice MDs. Insulin resistance happens to be one of those areas. Most doctors don't know that glucose can get into muscle cells in complete absence of insulin through some mechanical mechanisms. They don't know the role of insulin and the insulin/glucagon ration on hepatic cells, and muscle cells.

1 comment:

cyclingred said...

Yes most certifications are about money. And I also agree that doctors dispense a lot of advice regarding things about which they have less education than most people.

Certifications and especially doctors are about reducing competition and price fixing.