Educating Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
Every Registered Dietitian is a Nutritionist, but not every Nutritionist is a Registered Dietitian. And, at ISU, we are dedicated to educating the next generation of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
Experiential learning gives students the opportunity to immediately apply didactic lessons, as well as hone teamwork skills and glean lessons from real-time coaching. At most universities, undergraduate dietetic students do not enter facilities until their internship. One thing that sets ISU apart from other programs is a focus on experiential learning activities:
Undergraduate students in Foodservice Management work at facilities and gain foodservice management skills. Students in Medical Nutrition Therapy visit Portneuf Medical Center to receive clinical experience through exposure to Electronic Medical Records. Students in Community Nutrition tour local facilities, give nutrition presentations to community groups and volunteer at food pantries.
Our dietetic interns get the unique opportunity to learn from one of the few dietitians in Idaho certified in the nutrition focused physical exam. Kris Hilvers, MS, RDN, LD, CNSC, Clinical Assistant Professor and Meridian Dietetic Internship Coordinator, recently became recognized as a peer champion for this specialized training.
Associate Professor Allisha Weeden, PhD, RDN, LD, who teaches Experimental Foods, mentors undergraduate students on food technology projects. In 2017, Dr. Weeden guided two students in their quest to develop a tasty iron-fortified chocolate bar. Their work was presented as a poster at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual meeting.
Fulbright Scholar, Cynthia Blanton, PhD, RDN, LD, studied at the Institute for Nutriscience and Health. This innovative center is located at the Canada's University of Prince Edward Island. Dr. Blanton looked at whether the blood pressure-lowering effect of blueberry consumption is improved by co-ingestion of probiotics, beneficial live bacteria.
Inter-professional health care teams are proving to both improve the quality of patient care and streamline medical costs. Dietetic faculty are helping to optimize clinical care and community interventions through inter-professional education (IPE) research collaborations. Students benefit from these activities:
Associate Professor Allisha Weeden, PhD, RDN,LD, is part of the Inter-Professional Evaluation Team (IET). This team conducts health assessments and shares recommendations for “real kids” with their parents. Past cases have included children with autism, neurological issues, food allergies, and a range of other health issues.
Clinical Assistant Professor Jenifer Reader, MHE, RDN, LD, is working with the College of Education on research identifying technology use in family and consumer science classrooms.
Director of Dietetic Programs Barbara Gordon, MBA, RDN, LD, is part of an inter-professional research collaboration with St. Luke’s, Boise State, and ISU. A poster sharing findings of a study on cystic fibrosis and food insecurity was presented at a national meeting in October 2018.
Professor Cynthia Blanton, PhD, RDN, LD, and faculty with the ISU Department of Microbiology are expanding our understanding of the microbiome through their animal models.
Student athletes must balance the typical demands of college with their training and competition schedules. Many of them struggle to find the time to eat well and some don’t really understand their need to eat more calories and consume extra fluids. In addition, disordered eating is common among athletes, especially those in sports that require them to stay within specific weight ranges.
ISU has a really cool, cutting-edge healthy eating program for student athletes. It’s called Smart Cooking on the Run Every Day (SCORESM). SCORE is funded through a gift from Dairy West, a trade association for the dairy industry. SCORE dietitian Natalie Christensen, RDN, LD, is a former ISU athlete (track and field, soccer).
SCORE provides ISU athletes with the knowledge and skills needed to eat healthfully, based on their individual nutritional needs. Program components include Individualized nutrition counseling, team talks, grocery store tours and cooking classes and demonstrations.
Students are welcome to volunteer with Natalie and gain experience working with a "real world" sports nutritionist.
Dietetic faculty are movers and shakers—combined contributions of this small group of faculty includes serving on 16 ISU Committees, holding leadership roles in 6 state level associations, and being active with 7 national organizations. These networks are helpful in finding students placements, introducing them to key players and helping graduates learn about job openings:
Meridian Dietetic Internship Coordinator Kris Hilvers, MS, RDN, LD, CNSC, is a lecturer for the St. Al's Critical Care Nursing Residency.
Director of Dietetic Programs, Barbara Gordon, MBA, RDN, LD, is Chair Elect or the Research Dietetic Practice Group, which is part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Clinical Assistant Professor Charlene Byington, MHE, RDN, LD, is a member of the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Annual Meeting Planning Committee. She also serves on the IAND board as the Southeast Idaho liaison and previously held leadership positions with the Pocatello Dietitians association. She also serves as a mentor to new dietetic internship directors.
Clinical Assistant Professor Jenifer Reader, MHE, RDN, LD is the Incoming Chair for Phi Upsilon Omicron (Phi U), which is a national, family and consumer sciences, scholastic honor society.