Analia Camarasa, MS-HNFM, IFMCP, CNS, UWS teaching staff, UWS alumni mentor
Why did you choose the field/profession of human nutrition and functional medicine?
My brilliant father used to say, “no one can take away your education.” He understood the true meaning of this having only completed 6th grade. With that in mind, I chose the field of human nutrition and functional medicine out of need, having more health questions than answers for my daughter and myself. I had been suffering with crippling fatigue and gastrointestinal issues since college that conventional medicine could not fix. At a young age, my daughter suddenly developed unexplained large motor tics. It propelled me to seek higher-level education in pursuit of bettering the state of our health. Within two years, I had graduated and was able to take my health to greater heights with the knowledge gained during this very rigorous program. I felt I had a new lease in life.
Briefly share your experience in advocating for state licensure in North Carolina.
During my time at UWS, I took two elective courses through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). These advanced practice modules introduced me to that wonderful educational organization. After graduating from UWS, I was hired to be teaching staff of the master’s program while I continued taking the advanced practice modules from IFM for three years. This experience complemented the education I had gained at UWS very well. In addition, after graduation, I sat for and passed the BCNS exam to become a Certified NutritionSpecialist (CNS). All the while, I was working on the 1,000 supervised practice experience hours required to gain the tile of CNS.
What does it mean to you to become the first licensed nutritionist in your state?
With the support of the North Carolina (NC) Board of Dietetics/Nutrition (the licensing board for dietitians and nutritionists in NC), the North Carolina Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Nutrition Advocacy Group (now known as the American Nutrition Association) I advocated for about four years to change the NC Dietetics/Nutrition Practice Act. In 2018, after many discussions, meetings and drafting, a new pathway to license nutritionists in the state of North Carolina was enacted. When the opportunity to become a member of the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition dietetics presented itself, I leapt at the chance to help more qualified nutritionists to become licensed in our state. As a result of my education at UWS with a master’s degree in nutrition plus having completed 1,000 hours of supervise clinical practice experience, I was honored to become the first licensed nutritionist (LN) in the state of North Carolina.
How have you evolved and adapted in your own practice or work during this intense time (pandemic, social upheaval, economic uncertainty)?
The good news is that all of my studying inspired my husband to grow his knowledge of nutrition and functional medicine as well. Aside from being an IFM certified practitioner, he is also a board-certified emergency medicine physician. This means that we when it came to the pandemic, we saw the writing on the wall and begun quarantine before it was required in our state. This lead us to start seeing patients virtually early on, at first over the phone. Soon, we began our first telehealth visits and our patients quickly adjusted to the new normal.
How did your work with UWS help you to become an IFM certified practitioner?
During my education at UWS, I took an elective class in Herbal Medicine. Inspired by the depth of knowledge of HNFM’s professor and western herbalist Jason Hawrelak (ND, PhD), I was accepted into a two-year herbal studies program with Registered Herbalist David Winston. Since graduating from UWS, I have taken many continued education courses and attended many conferences to deepen my knowledge of herbs as it relates to nutrition. Class starts in the fall of 2020 and I eagerly look forward to be once again a devoted student with the goal of becoming a registered herbalist.
I am so grateful I followed my dreams to earn a master’s degree, to become a CNS, a North Carolina licensed nutritionist, and an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP). Continuously learning and helping one patient at a time gives me immense joy. I am forever grateful to have heeded my father’s advice and have started in this journey with University of Western States’ Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine program. It has opened my life to new opportunities, to be of service and touch the lives to the people in my community.