Top 5 Reasons to Consider Ashland University’s Outstanding Dietetics Program

Top 5 Reasons to Consider Ashland University’s Outstanding Dietetics Program

January 2015 - There is good news for those prospective students considering four-year dietetics programs: America’s growing passion for nutrition and regulation of diet is leading to a growing demand for more registered dietitians (RD).

Job Forecast
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that employment of registered dietitians and nutritionists is projected to grow 21 percent through 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations, in part because of growing passion to eat healthier. The role of food in preventing and treating illnesses, 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.

What is a Dietitian?
A dietitian is an expert in dietetics; that is, human nutrition and the regulation of diet. A dietitian advises people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Dietitians work in a variety of settings from clinical to community and public policy to media communications. A registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is a dietitian who meets special academic and professional requirements, including the completion of a bachelor's degree with an accredited nutrition curriculum; satisfactory performance on the registration exam; and an internship at an approved health care facility, foodservice organization, or community agency.

The Top 5 reasons to consider the Dietetics program at Ashland University.

1. Full Accreditation from ACEND
While Ashland University only began offering a new degree program in dietetics in 2010, it has already received full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND). Ashland’s program in Dietetics, housed in the Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is designed for students who wish to become registered dietitians (R.D.) and practitioners in clinical, community, food industry and food-service areas of nutrition. Registered dietitians are employed by hospitals, community agencies and various government or private organizations.

“Ashland’s undergraduate degree program in dietetics offers a very challenging curriculum and is a program designed for the more serious student,” said Dr. David Vanata, RD, CSSD, LD, associate professor of Health Sciences and director of the dietetics program at Ashland University. “There are only about 10 accredited programs in the state and we are one of only two private schools in Ohio offering this type of accredited program.”

Vanata said the CADE accreditation certifies that the University is offering a top-notch program and also means that graduates of Ashland’s program will be eligible to apply for a CADE-accredited dietetic internship following graduation. “These postgraduate internships are very competitive and will require an impressive GPA and work-related summer experiences, but once completed the student can sit for the national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration,” he said.

Vanata said the accreditation site visit identified a number of areas of strength displayed by Ashland University’s program. Among those areas highlighted were that students receive much individual attention with small classroom sizes that provide more direct interaction with faculty, have the opportunity to conduct research projects as undergraduate students, study in an environment that provides a sound academically and scientifically based curriculum, and have the opportunity to attend professional conferences with other students and faculty.

Vanata said dietetics is a very popular major on the Ashland University campus. “It is a very good major because there are jobs in this field right now,” Vanata said. “Students who graduate with a degree in dietetics and complete a supervised internship have the opportunity to pursue many different careers, including administrative dietitian, clinical dietitian, commodity specialist, consulting dietitian, corporate wellness manager, diet center manager, eating disorder program manager, educational dietitian, food services director, gerontological nutritionist, nutrition counselor, nutrition support dietitian, private practice dietitian, public health nutritionist, therapeutic dietitian and weight management specialist.”

2. 100 percent student passage rate on standardized exam
100 percent of Ashland University graduates taking the registered dietitians (R.D.) standardized exam have passed the exam, and between 70 and 80 percent of these students have been placed in supervised internships compared to a national average of only 51 percent.

3. Placing Graduates in Top-Ranked Graduate Programs
Ashland University students have consistently been placed with some of the top-ranked graduate programs across the nation, including Vanderbilt University, Syracuse University, West Virginia University, University of Tennessee, and Ohio State University. These facts show the strength of the AU program as well as the quality of education received by the AU students in the dietetics program.

4. Program Features New Clinical Faculty Member
Ashland University’s dietetics program has hired a new faculty member with a strong clinical background. Denise Reed, MS, RD, LD, now serves as clinical assistant professor of health sciences and she brings much expertise to the program. Her background and expertise is in clinical dietetics, having worked for many years as a critical care dietitian and clinical nutrition manager.

5. Dietetics Students Receive National Award
For the second year in a row, students in Ashland University’s Student Dietetic Association (SDA) have received the top award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Ashland’s program was selected as the award winner among all dietetics programs in the United States that participated in the National Nutrition Month competition. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the overseeing national professional organization in the field of dietetics.

The SDA’s primary goal of National Nutrition Month was to educate and excite students about making simple lifestyle changes while savoring the flavor of healthy eating. At the smoothie bar, the group offered "Green Power" smoothie samples, containing tropical fruit and spinach. In the dining hall, the SDA hosted a "Proper Portions" night, reaching 700 students. A "Nutrition Bar" was offered on the Hot Bar, including Asian Quinoa Zucchini Cups and Barramundi wrapped with Chard Greens. "Proper Portion" displays throughout the hall allowed students to observe the USDA recommended portion sizes, including popular items like cereal, pasta, fruit juice and peanut butter. At the campus store, the AUSDA developed an "Eat This, Not That" game, which compared different foods found in the store. Students guessed which of the selections was healthier and had a chance to win prizes.

Those with questions about Ashland University’s dietetics program can contact Dr. Vanata at 419.289.5292 or email him at dvanata@ashland.edu.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###