Overview

About the HNFM Graduate Certificate

For health professionals with master’s or doctoral degrees (DC, MD, DO, ND, LAc, etc.) who choose not to take the full HNFM master’s degree curriculum, the University of Western States offers an online graduate certificate in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine that helps you to deepen your understanding of these subjects. The curriculum includes eight of the 17 required courses in the UWS master of science program. Please note, the HNFM certificate is distinct from the HNFM master’s degree program. Speak with an admissions advisor to find out which program is best for you.

Electives

Certificate completion consists of the seven core courses below plus one elective of student’s choice. The Principles of Functional Medicine course must be taken first, after which they may or may not be taken in the order listed. The Supervised Nutrition Practicum I-III are optional.

Guest Lecturers


The HNFM program often hosts prestigious guest lecturers to speak about exciting topics in health, nutrition and wellness. Here are a few guests we’ve had the honor of hosting and the topics they presented on:

Neal Barnard, MD – “Evidence on Plant-Based Diets and Diabetes”
Kara Fitzgerald, ND – “Molecular Biology of Fatty Acid Therapy”, “Food Allergy, Intolerance, Sensitivity”, “Allergy and Atopy”
Alan Gaby, MD – “Controversies in Nutrition”
Alan Goldhamer, DC – “Fasting, Food Addictions”
James Gordon, MD – “Self-Care is the Heart of Health Care”
Dennis Hoyer, DC – “Fundamentals of Laboratory Assessment”

Master's Degree Credit

Upon completion of the certificate program, participants may choose to finish the remaining coursework to earn the master of science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine degree. All of the completed courses in the certificate program will count toward the master’s degree.

Learning Outcomes

With appreciation of the rapid advancements in the field of clinical nutrition and the increasingly respected role of nutrition in the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease, the Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine graduate certificate program prepares graduates to safely and effectively utilize nutrition, natural remedies and biopsychosocial therapies in the management of patients with complex health challenges at an advanced level beyond traditional nutritional programs. Graduates of the HNFM graduate certificate will:

  1. Possess the knowledge and skills to assess individuals for nutritional deficiencies and imbalances and apply evidence-based therapeutic interventions.
  2. Bring to their patients and communities a well-informed understanding of the crucial relationship between whole food nutrition, health promotion and disease prevention.
  3. Link research findings to the clinical application of the functional medicine model.
  4. Engage in life-long learning.
  5. Practice according to ethical and professional standards.

Textbooks

You can buy your textbooks online. Find the HFNM textbook list here.

Curriculum: 7 required courses and an elective (choose one)

*Courses do not need to be taken in the order listed below.

HNFM Required Courses

MSN 6100 - Principles of Functional Medicine 5 credits 55 hours

This course presents the fundamental concepts of functional medicine, including genetic predisposition to illness, biochemical individuality, environmental factors (nutrition/diet, xenobiotics, exercise, physical trauma, psychosocial changes), physiologic functions and imbalances, triggers and mediators of illness, common clinical imbalances (oxidative and reductive stress, energy production, structural integrity, assimilation, immune surveillance and inflammation, other defense mechanisms, hormone and neurotransmitter regulation, detoxification and biotransformation, nutritional genomics, and the relationships of mental, emotional and spiritual elements to health and healing). The personalized, whole-person, integrated systems approach of functional medicine will be compared and contrasted to conventional approaches to healthcare. This course lays the foundation for many of the subsequent courses in this degree program and must be taken in the first quarter of the program.

Hours: 5 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: g

MSN 6101 - Evidence-based Nutrition 3 credits 33 hours

This course provides core knowledge in evidence-based nutrition with a focus on the role of nutrition in health optimization and disease treatment. Students will gain a detailed understanding of the practical application of various nutrients and dietary strategies used in clinical practice. Discussions will also incorporate the three components of evidence-based healthcare (clinical expertise, patient preference, research evidence) into the decision-making and data-analysis process.

Hours: 3 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 6204 - Gastrointestinal Imbalances 4 credits 44 hours

This course presents a functional medicine approach to understanding the metabolism of the gastrointestinal system, with an emphasis placed on the nutritional implications of dysfunctional digestion or absorption, intestinal membrane integrity and permeability, alterations in GI microbiological flora and gut ecology, hepatoenteric cycles, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, assimilation of nutrients, and the GI immune system. Nutritional support of GI function and repair is emphasized. Health disorders reviewed include inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, gluten sensitivity, autism, and disorders of systemic inflammation.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 6300 - Detoxification and Biotransformation Pathways and Imbalances 3 credits 33 hours

This course examines the metabolic pathways involved in the conversion of exogenous and endogenous toxins and waste compounds and molecules into excretable substances, placing them in context within the functional medicine model. Phase I and II reactions, regulation of detoxification pathways, genetic variations, and functional assessment of these mechanisms are detailed. Nutritional support and the effect of drugs on detoxification pathways are reviewed, as well as the disturbed physiology and eventual pathology that results from imbalances in detoxification and biotransformation.

Hours: 3 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 6302 - Hormone and Neurotransmitter Regulation and Imbalances 3 credits 33 hours

This course examines the actions, interrelationships, control mechanisms and imbalances of neurotransmitters, neuroendocrine factors, hormones and immune mediators. Particular emphasis is placed on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, thyroid metabolism, and sex hormones. The effects of toxins, free radicals, stress, diet, nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, drugs and specific foods on neurotransmitters and hormones are analyzed within a functional medicine framework. Laboratory testing of the various substances, including precursors and metabolites is included.

Hours: 3 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 7106 - Autoimmune Disease: Causes and Strategies 3 credits 33 hours

The prevalence of autoimmune diseases is increasing rapidly worldwide and, as with other health ailments such as hypertension and diabetes, these conditions are becoming particularly more common in westernized societies. Rapid changes in disease prevalence point to a change in the patient’s environment rather than to genetic causes, to which these conditions have traditionally been ascribed. Likewise, these conditions that were once considered idiopathic have now been described and researched to the extent that we better understand the etiology and pathophysiology of the disease process, allowing us to formulate improved treatment approaches. This course uses a functional medicine perspective to explore the major autoimmune diseases, their unique and common etiologies, laboratory assessments, physical exam findings, and nutritional and integrative interventions, including pharmacologic drugs.

Hours: 3 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 7200 - Immune Imbalances and Inflammation 4 credits 44 hours

This course explores inflammation and immune dysfunction as common pathogenic mechanisms in many chronic disorders, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, allergy, and autoimmunity. Dietary and phytonutritional influences on the inflammatory process, including both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects, are explored in depth using a functional medicine framework. Case studies include autoimmune diseases, allergies, and metabolic disorders. Risks, benefits, and nutritional interactions associated with common anti-inflammatory medications are reviewed.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

HNFM Electives

MSN 7102 - Oxidative/Reductive Dynamics and Energy Production 3 credits 33 hours

This course examines the mechanisms leading to oxidative or reductive stress and the impact of those reactions on the development of chronic disease. Production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species, and the nitric oxide cycle are covered in depth. Mitochondrial dysfunction and other mechanisms of abnormal energy production are reviewed. Relevance to conditions such as neurodegenerative disorders, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia will be emphasized.

Hours: 3 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 7201 - Fundamentals of Mind-Body Medicine and the Psychology of Well-being 2 credits 22 hours

This is an overview of mind-body medicine — history and current practices. There will be a particular emphasis on the growing variety of evidence-based mindfulness practices, specifically Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and related approaches. We will approach mind-body medicine through a biopsychosocial lens, taking into account the context and culture of environment. We will also look at the impact of meaning and story on illness / wellness and how this can be brought into the therapeutic relationship through Narrative Medicine. This class includes a strong experiential component through instruction and practice in mindfulness and other mind-body practices.

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 7215 - Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Imbalances 2 credits 22 hours

Diseases of the cardiovascular system and disruption of its related metabolic processes are among the deadliest and most economically burdensome health problems facing industrialized societies. Having reached epidemic proportions, an urgent need now exists to identify and implement strategies for reversing the trend of increased morbidity and mortality, uncontrolled cost and younger age of onset that characterizes these conditions. This course presents a functional medicine approach to the prevention and nutritional management of chronic cardiovascular disease and imbalances of metabolism (including metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes mellitus). Students also learn the key diagnostic criteria, physical examination and laboratory findings associated with these conditions.

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 8100 - Botanical Medicine 2 credits 22 hours

This course presents a practical overview of medical botany/herbology, including history, composition, safety, and therapeutic use of the most commonly used botanical medicines. Each of these agents is reviewed regarding its classification, bioactive components, herb-drug-nutrient interactions, mechanism of action, metabolism, indications and contraindications, toxicology, methods of administration, and dosage

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 8101 - Nutrition in Special Populations 2 credits 22 hours

This course looks at nutritional needs and interventions in special populations, such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women, post-surgical patients, patients with terminal illnesses, and disabled persons who may have mental or physical conditions that affect their basic nutritional needs and their ability to utilize food normally.

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 8115 - Advanced Practice Modules 2 credits 22 hours

Advanced Practice Modules (APMs) and the week-long Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) from the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) can be completed for elective credit, with one APM or one AFMCP substituting for one elective course in our MS program. APMs are focused on a single key health dysfunction such as Gastrointestinal, Cardiometabolic, Detoxification and Immune imbalances. APMs are offered both in person and electronically for greater ease of access. Graduates of the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy certificate program may be granted four elective credits. (2 credits each, a maximum of 4 credits allowed)

 

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: P/F

MSN 8125 - Pharmacology and Drug-Nutrient Interactions 2 credits 22 hours

This course provides a practical overview of pharmacologic therapy used in the management of ambulatory patients with chronic illnesses or non-life threatening acute illnesses. The student will study the effects of drugs on organ systems and diseases and the mechanism of action (pharmacodynamics), the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of drugs (A.D.M.E. of pharmacokinetics), potential toxic effects of medications, factors affecting the effectiveness of drugs, and interactions with drugs, botanical compounds, foods, and nutritional supplements.

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: g

MSN 8135 - Psychology of Eating and Wellness 2 credits 22 hours

This course explores our complex relationship with food: why we eat what we eat, how we eat, and why we eat too much or too little. Based on positive psychology, mind-body medicine, cognitive-behavior therapy, and a functional medicine model of psychological intervention as paths to wellness, the course also focuses on expectations, beliefs, and resistance to change. Students will examine their own eating and wellness practices, as well as their readiness for counseling others. Therapeutic interventions for developing healthy behaviors and recognizing eating disorders will be discussed and the role of family, peer, societal, corporate and government influences on personal choices will be emphasized.

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 8145 - Plant-Based Nutrition 2 credits 22 hours

This course provides a comprehensive guide to plant-based nutrition. Subjects addressed include obtaining sufficient protein from plant sources, the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet for prevention and treatment of chronic disease, and determining which supplements are essential. Emphasis is given to transitioning to a vegan diet, and its appropriateness during pregnancy and breastfeeding, for children and teens, for people over fifty, and for people engaged in recreational sports and competitive athletics.  Nutrient-dense recipes and menus are provided. Various dietary controversies are evaluated in an evidence-based framework.

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

MSN 8165 - Nutrition Practice Strategies 2 credits 22 hours

This course addresses essential aspects of successful nutrition practice with an emphasis on advanced nutrition counseling techniques. Students study effective communication, observation, and active listening skills. Assessment of stages of behavior change and motivational interviewing are integrated with methods for guiding clients/patients through goal setting and maintaining accountability. Case studies to integrate knowledge with clinical application are examined. Analytical strategies such as planning, implementation, and assessment of progress are discussed to prepare the practitioner for successful patient management. Practical steps for setting up a nutrition practice are presented.

Hours: 2 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G