It takes unwavering determination to push through the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at CHES but the rewards are great. Students who complete the program, get two of the requirements for becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist out the way at one time. This option combines the theory presented in class with experience in health care settings under the supervision of faculty or other health professionals. After graduation, students are eligible to take the national examination to become registered dietitians.
Admission to the Coordinated Program, which is currently accredited by The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, is competitive. Students apply in the fall or spring semester of their junior year. Admission decisions are based on overall GPA, grades in relevant courses, score on the admission exam, work/volunteer/leadership experience, class attendance, professionalism, and letters of reference.
Once admitted, students spend 12-16 months in the program depending upon when they apply. They enter a unique phase of their college education. No longer traditional college students, they have accepted the additional role of “professional-in-training.” This new role carries a greater responsibility and commitment to class attendance, timeliness, attire and other factors which directly relate to job performance and professional presentation.
The junior and senior years require more time on the student's part than normally would be encountered in a traditional college program. Students take a full class load each semester while working at a supervised practice facility. They complete many hours of practical or supervised practice hours in clinical, community nutrition, foodservice management, long-term care, and dietetics management and communication rotations. For most, a 40-hour work week is the norm in the fall and spring semesters of the senior year. Students work alongside dietitians in hospitals, nursing homes, health departments, employee wellness programs, and non-profit agencies.
On Thursday, May 2, seniors from the coordinated program in dietetics participate in a special graduation ceremony that recognizes the hard work and dedication it took to accomplish this feat.
“Our 20 coordinated program graduates not only complete their degree here at UA, but also complete over 1200 hours of supervised practice at healthcare facilities in the community. I am so proud of their hard work this past year and cannot wait to see what their future holds as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists,” says Lori Greene, MS, RD, LD, director of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics.
what's happening in the college
Because getting young children to eat the right kinds of food can be challenging, the Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management is working with Community Services of West Alabama to help ensure that preschool children eat the healthy meals offered in the Head Start Program. Dr. Linda Knol, associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management, recently conducted a two day training for day care foodservice providers using a culinary nutrition program purposed for those working in a preschool setting. The goal of this training was to equip these workers with improved culinary skills and the nutritional knowledge needed to make healthy meals that young children will enjoy.
The program teaches foodservice personnel how to alter recipes to increase the use of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lower fat milks while decreasing saturated fat and sodium. They also learn ways to make the food more appealing and palatable to children. The program offers suggestions based on the Smarter Lunchrooms Initiative, which uses behavioral economics research to improve children’s food and beverage choices. Lastly, the program offers mindful eating strategies using principles from the successful Home Sweet Home Childhood Obesity Prevention Program,which was tested with families of Alabama children attending Head Start.
The project was sponsored with generous funding by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.
It’s all about food, says one University of Alabama professor. “Food is the core of nutrition, and it’s an integral part of the hospitality industry,” said Dr. Mary Kay Meyer, professor in the human nutrition and hospitality management program, as well as assistant dean in UA’s College of Human Environmental Sciences. “We talk about what food does to the body, but if you can’t get the food into the body, you’ve lost the battle,” Meyer said. “I want students to be excited about food and really appreciate what you can do with food, if you have the right equipment.”
Students enrolled in food and nutrition courses should have no problem garnering that enthusiasm, thanks to the $1.5 million state-of-the-art foods lab located on the ground floor of Doster Hall. The foods lab, which opened in the fall of 2013, gives food and nutrition students access to the traditional gas ranges and conventional ovens, as well as providing them opportunities to experiment with induction units, combi-ovens (a combination steaming unit and oven) and a convection oven. They will also have the smaller pieces that every high-quality foods lab needs – pressure cookers and fryers, mixers and more.
Former graduate teaching assistant Morgan Patterson, of Demopolis, said most students learn about this equipment in class, but they do not have an opportunity to work with it until they are in the work force. “Having this opportunity just increases their skill set,” said Patterson.
Human nutrition and hospitality management are not culinary programs. The courses focus on the science behind food and how principles of food preparation impact nutrient content, taste, texture and appearance. “Although there are ovens and ranges in this lab, we blend the science experimentation, which uses chemistry lab supplies like beakers, pH strips and titration equipment, with culinary applications,” said Dr. Kristi Michele Crowe, a food chemist, dietitian and assistant professor of nutrition at UA. “In other words, we teach how the concepts of food chemistry are used in the food industry to develop food products, yet the same principles are taking place in one’s own kitchen.”
“Understanding the science of food has allowed for an explosion of nutritious food choices with reasonably long shelf-lives,” Crowe said. “Without the understanding of the chemistry of macro and micronutrients and the interactions between them, dietitians could not adequately counsel patients on how to modify their diets for health and wellness.
Students can also utilize the new food sensory lab to conduct research studies. Meyer said the department has wanted to build that research component, but this is the first time they have had the facilities to do so. The audio-visual component of the lab brings a new dimension to the curriculum for the department’s online programs by having taped demonstrations made available to distance-learning students. In addition, students enrolled in catering and quantity food production courses have utilized the lab to learn operation and safety of commercial cooking equipment. There is also a food preparation course offered to hospitality majors. In addition, the UA's College of Community Health Sciences partnered with the College of Human and Environmental Sciences to create a Culinary Medicine elective which offers cooking classes and a follow-up discussion for medical students, Family Medicine residents and nutrition students on how to better educate patients about their diets.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s College of Human Environmental Sciences has selected Dr. Lori Turner as the 2016 recipient of the HES Leadership Board Excellence in Scholarly Research Award.
The award is presented annually to a member in the College who demonstrates research or scholarly excellence.
During her 19-year research career, Turner has published more than 100 manuscripts, at least five book chapters, eight editions of a student study guide and approximately 20 instructional manuals. She has presented at more than 140 national conferences as either the primary presenter or collaborator, and her research articles have been cited more than 750 times. She has also served as the chair of a dozen or more doctoral committees.
Her research focuses on osteoporosis prevention, particularly the prevention of low bone density among college students. She has mentored many doctoral students and coordinates UA’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Conference for the College.
After earning a doctorate from The University of Alabama in 1997, Turner accepted a position with the University of Arkansas and was promoted to the position of associate professor in 2002. She returned to the Capstone in 2006 and accepted her current position of tenured professor.
Turner’s 2001 publication in Journal of Women and Aging titled “Influence of Yard Work and Weight Training on Bone Mineral Density Among Older U.S. Women” was tremendously successful, and her overall work led to her selection as “Outstanding Researcher” in the department of health, human performance and recreation at the University of Arkansas in both the 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 academic years.
Turner attained her bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Florida State University and went on to get her master’s in dietetics and nutrition from Florida International University in 1983. She then returned to FSU, where she earned a master’s in health education before attending The University of Alabama.