Good Nutrition

UNH dietetics program adds new master’s option

Friday, October 19, 2018
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for dietitians is expected to increase during the next several years faster than the average for other occupations. That’s good news to Joanne Burke, director of the UNH dietetic internship program, which historically has received 50 applications for 10 internship slots.

Dietetics is one of three options open to nutrition majors. The others include nutrition and wellness and nutritional sciences.  

“Traditionally there have been far fewer jobs for dietitians,” Burke says. “It’s not that there isn’t an interest in the field; it’s that places that have a need, like hospitals, only hire one dietitian compared to the number of nurses.”

Whatever the numbers end up being, UNH’s program can more than meet the need. A new combined undergraduate and master’s degree, coupled with the dietetic internship was launched at the start of the 2018 school year.

“The opportunities are increasing, particularly with the number of people retiring. There are also new areas like regional food systems and wellness,” Burke says. “The role of food in preventing and treating diseases, such as diabetes, is now well known. More dietitians and nutritionists will be needed to provide care for patients with various medical conditions and to advise people who want to improve their overall health.”

A new combined undergraduate and master’s degree, combined with the dietetic internship was launched at the start of the 2018 school year.

And there are still positions like the one Mikayla Stoyak ’18 has at Concord Hospital. As part of her internship work, Stoyak completed a five-month clinical rotation at the New Hampshire hospital that, she says, prepared her well for her future.

“Spending my clinical rotation at Concord Hospital allowed me to develop professional relationships that helped me to get a job after graduation,” Stoyak says. “I appreciated being part of the real day-to-day work of a dietitian, preparing me for life after the internship.” 

An inpatient clinical dietitian, Stoyak’s time is divided between a cardiac, orthopedic and progressive care unit. “I spend a lot of my day assessing and educating high-risk patients but also have the opportunity to do some community outreach,” she says.

Stoyak is one of the 10 UNH students to achieve a 100 percent pass rate on the registered dietitian exam they took in May.

“It’s exciting that we can brag a little, but our average pass rate is 98 percent so the UNH program is consistently turning out students who are well prepared to pass the exam,” Burke says. “It’s a nice trend.” 

Stoyak is one of the 10 UNH students to achieve a 100 percent pass rate on the registered dietitian exam they took in May.

That success does not come by accident. Burke notes the department pays close attention to the competencies established by the university as well as the study guide provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Classes and experiences are designed to address those requirements to build critical thinking and practical application skills, she says.

Stoyak is a testament to that. “I do feel like the internship prepared me well for my job,” she says. “It seemed to be a well-balanced program and, now, I’m in a job that I think is perfect to give me a complex base knowledge at the start of my career.”