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Astrid Inniss

UTMB to offer new nutrition master's degree and dietetic internship

GALVESTON, Texas - The University of Texas Medical Branch has unveiled an advanced education program in nutrition and dietetics. The program, which is part of UTMB's School of Health Professions, will provide two options: a combined master's degree in nutrition and metabolism with a dietetic internship, and an internship certificate.

The combined master's degree and dietetic internship will offer students both an advanced degree and supervised practice experience, which will allow eligibility to take the national exam to become registered dietitians. The internship certificate option will offer supervised practice experience to students who already have a bachelor's degree in nutrition or a related field but seek the clinical training needed for the registered dietitian exam. Both options are designed to provide pathways to advancement in a field that offers a wide array of nutrition-related career possibilities.

The UTMB Dietetic Internship Program will accept five interns beginning fall 2013 for the internship certificate option and 10 in summer 2014 for the combined master's degree and dietetic internship. The internship requires 1,240 hours of supervised practice in four major areas: clinical nutrition, food service management, community nutrition and research.

The program will partner with registered dietitians at UTMB and other institutions to provide interns with a rich and varied professional work experience. Student interns will rotate at affiliate institutions for clinical and hospital food service supervised practice including Shriner's Hospital for Children in Galveston, Kindred Hospital in Webster, Huntsville Memorial Hospital and Harris Health System.

Community facilities where interns will rotate include UTMB WIC clinics, Galveston County Community Action Council - Head Start, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston Meals on Wheels Program and the Houston Food Bank. Various school districts including Houston, Clear Creek, Dickinson and Galveston will offer supervised practice in the area of school food service. Facilities that will provide supervised practice in research include USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, NASA and the UTMB Institute for Translational Sciences Clinical Research Center. The UTMB dietetic internship will have a strong research component.

The registered dietitian credential opens the door to career possibilities that range from restaurant management to sports nutrition, to pediatric and geriatric nutrition and community health education.

Registered dietitians may go on to acquire certification in specialized areas of practice such as nutrition support, gerontology, pediatric or renal nutrition and diabetes education, and may work in variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics and other health-care facilities. Other dietitians may opt to work in food and nutrition-related industries and businesses, corporate wellness programs, government agencies and private practice settings. Dietitians with an advanced degree have higher career potential and may work at universities or in areas of research.

The dietetic internship program at UTMB will expose interns to the many opportunities and career paths that dietitians may choose to pursue.