The Value of Case Study Practicums

By: Stephanie Maus

Over the course of the CSNN program, we as students are exposed to an amazing amount of information. From biology to physiology to the psychospiritual  – all the information in each course is designed to ensure that we are ready to go out into the world and begin our careers as Registered Holistic Nutritionists equipped with the knowledge needed to be successful. However, the most important thing we learn is not the facts themselves, but how to apply them in a practical way with our clients, and the case study practicums are where we learn how to do this. As important as all the courses are, I would argue that non are as important as the case study practicums, since this is where we truly learn how to apply all that we learn over the program.

The case study practicums not only expose us to the expertise of the instructors, but also to the ideas of other students working through their own unique cases. In your first practicum, it’s not uncommon to feel slightly overwhelmed not only by all the possible scenarios and health concerns you may face, but by all the ways in which you can approach your recommendations and where to start!

One of the most important pieces of advice given in the case study practicums was to always start with digestion, no matter what the top scores since everyone can improve their digestion. This is such an important fact because as we learned over the course good digestion really is the key to overall health. Without it, we can’t get the nutrients we need to support all the other systems and processes in the body, so starting here with each client will set us up for success every time.

From there, it was helpful to start making the connections between the other systems that show up on a client’s NSP and having illuminating discussions about how improving digestion will address these imbalances. Having discussions in the practicums with various students providing their thoughts and insights exposes us to differing thoughts and approaches we may not have come up with on our own, which is an invaluable part of the program (after all it’s part of the benefit if being in the classroom vs studying on your own through a distance course!). It also provides a forum to ask questions not only of the instructor, but also the other students who again may have a unique approach to addressing a health issue that you may not have discussed in class or thought of yourself.

On top of cases being discussed (which provides great opportunities for ideation among students), my favorite practicums involved instructors giving presentations (usually powerpoint) that outline common issues we may face with clients. Part of the benefit of the CSNN program is being able to learn from seasoned professionals, and the case study practicums is really the arena where we get to discuss real life situations we will face and how we can take the book learning from the courses and apply it in real life. One of the hardest parts of leaving the program and starting to work with real clients is learning how to take what we’ve learned and make it digestible information we can give to our clients in our recommendations. I personally feel that the case study practicums is where we learned to do this. We could not have done our case studies without the practicums, and the case studies were where we finally took all the course information and turned it into applied knowledge. They also alert you to common problems you may encounter – such as lack of motivation among clients, excuses, and common roadblocks to client success, – and give valuable advice on how to address them and be the best advocate for your clients. It’s also extremely valuable to hear from their own mistakes or negative experiences to help us be aware so we can avoid being put in negative or difficult situations.

I personally felt my “ah ha” moments came when doing the case studies at the end of the course. And without the case study practicums, I don’t feel I would have felt confident in completing the case studies. However, thanks to all I learned over the program and during the practicums, I am so proud of the case studies I completed and submitted, and feel so excited to start this new journey in the real world helping real clients as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.