ARPAS: A license for nutrition

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Editor's note: This Practice Builder was contributed by Marit Arana, feed company nutritionist and former American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists president.

Are you currently certified by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists? If you aren't ARPAS-certified, you may want to consider becoming certified, says Marit Arana, former California ARPAS Chapter president and past national ARPAS president.

Similar to taking the bar exam to practice law, ARPAS is a species-specific examination that certifies you are a professional animal scientist. There are currently more than 1,500 members in the U.S.

"If you went to your accountant's office, you would want to know that he or she is current on this year's tax laws," says Arana. "An ARPAS certification gives your customers the confidence that you are a certified professional who is required to maintain his or her education and is current on industry practices."

ARPAS members also operate under a published code of ethics.

Species-specific examinations are available for beef, dairy, horse, goat, poultry, meat science, food science, aquaculture, companion animal, laboratory animal, swine and sheep. After passing the dairy-species exam, an exam in dairy nutrition is also available. If you have a master's or PhD degree, you may also qualify for board certification in the American College of Animal Sciences nutrition discipline.

Once the species exam is passed, in order to maintain the certification you must have 16 hours of continuing education each year. Currently, an ARPAS certification is a voluntary thing. But, in the future, it could become a requirement to work as a dairy nutritionist, particularly in California, says Arana. Any future nutrition license requirements may be satisfied by an existing ARPAS certification.

The ARPAS certification proves a certain minimum standard has been met in terms of knowledge. It's defendable in court and is a peer-reviewed test. The national exam consists of nutrition questions from around the country. Arana says there are even a few universities that use this exam to test graduating seniors.

Without ARPAS certification, how does the dairy farmer know you are current on changes in the dairy industry? she asks.

Ideally, the feed industry would like to get to a point where it is only dealing with licensed nutritionists. If something goes wrong on-farm, the dairy farmer turns to the feed company when there is an issue and the nutritionist is not licensed.

ARPAS plans to do outreach to the dairy industry to educate dairy farmers on the ARPAS certification and encourage them to work with ARPAS-certified nutritionists.

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