GVSU adds new clinical dietetics master’s degree

Meghan McBrady

Eating clean and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be hard for college students, especially during study binges and all-nighters.

For Marie Nalezyty, a graduate student Grand Valley State University, she will be able to expand on her undergraduate degree in dietetics that she attained at Michigan State University with further studying at GVSU due to its new master’s program in clinical dietetics.

“Our labs have been very hands-on and educational,” she said. “It has been a learning experience for everyone since this is the first year of the program, but the students and the professors are communicating efficiently and working through any bumps in the round.”

The master of science in clinical dietetics program began in fall 2016 as part of GVSU’s department of public health and College of Health Professions and focused on putting students in the heart of Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile.

Approved by GVSU’s Board of Trustees in 2015, the program was accredited in 2016 by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

With courses ranging from food culture to medical nutritional therapy, being involved in clinical dietetics program at GVSU will provide students the chance to become registered dietitians and also find work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other health care-based areas.

Jody Vogelzang, director of the clinical dietetics program and an assistant professor of public health at GVSU, said the program looks at science-based courses to create an environment where students can learn how to accommodate various health needs in a growing population.

“We are at a cusp of change for professional dietitians and we are taking students forward into a program of the future opposed to something great in the 20th century,” she said.

A significant aspect of the program, Vogelzang said, was it being broken up into two tracks for graduate classes.

Track A is a full-time program designed for students who need to complete supervised practice, while Track B is a part-time program designed for registered dietitians (RDs) or registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) wanting a master’s degree.

Both tracks also utilize the hybrid model of classes, with Track A providing students the chance to sit for the registration exam leading to RDN credential and with Track B expanding the RDs and RDNs knowledge and comprehension of dietetics.

“Students can have access to the science and practices in dietary modifications to help sustain or improve health,” Vogelzang said. “In addition, our students are spending some of their supervised practice time on campus or working on other projects that have to work on health eating initiatives.”

Reinforcing an active learning experience, the clinical dietetics program will allow future dietitians at GVSU to be part of the growing job market in nutrition and health.