Meredith College has added a new pathway for those wanting to pursue a career in nutrition. The Master of Science in Nutrition – Accelerated Dietitian Nutritionist Track (ADNT) is a more streamlined program designed for students with bachelor’s degrees who want to become registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) in just two years.
The new track combines didactic coursework with supervised experiential learning hours. Students take classes at the same time they are in the field in clinical, community, and food service settings. Upon successful completion, students earn their M.S. in Nutrition and are eligible to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing examination to become an RDN.
While the MS-ADNT is shorter in length, it has a demanding full-time schedule, so some students may benefit from focusing on the didactic curriculum in the MS-Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) program and then applying to a Dietetic Internship (DI) to complete their experiential learning.
“This program is fairly fast-paced as students will be in class or in the field Monday through Friday,” said Coleman Hale, assistant professor of food and nutrition and MS-ADNT program director. “This style of program is quicker for students than completing an individual MS nutrition program to earn a verification statement and then apply to a Dietetic Internship (DI) to satisfy the supervised experiential learning portion.”
The new option addresses concerns from prospective nutrition students about the length and cost of nutrition programs. Hale said they often want to finish a program quickly so they can become gainfully employed.
“I took the longer three-year route toward becoming a registered dietitian and would have greatly appreciated the opportunity to have a more streamlined program that I could complete in under two years,” she said. “I look forward to supporting students in achieving their goal of becoming an RDN through this fast-paced and rigorous but rewarding graduate program.”
Hale noted students can still do the MS-DPD and then the DI to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Both paths offer benefits and cater to different types of students and both are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Meredith follows the Future Education Model Graduate Program standards from ACEND.
“The MS-DPD to DI pathway and the new MS-ADNT pathway both have unique benefits depending upon the goals and the needs of the student,” said Hale. “While the MS-ADNT is shorter in length, it has a demanding full-time schedule, so some students may benefit from focusing on the didactic curriculum in the MS-DPD program and then applying to the DI to complete their experiential learning.”
Meredith invested in first-class facilities to enhance the learning experience for nutrition students. The Dickson Foundation Community Garden allows them to participate in planting, harvesting, and preparing healthy food. The College also completely renovated the Nifong Nutrition Laboratory, making it a state-of-the-art learning space that simulates environments students will work in once they graduate. Most recently, the program added a nutrition simulation lab with a high-fidelity patient simulator. Students can practice nutrition assessments through patient interviews, complete the nutrition-focused physical exam, and provide medical nutrition therapy to standardized patients to help increase student confidence and knowledge prior to going into the field.
Hale said she is excited to welcome the first cohort of students in fall 2023 and get the new M.S. in Nutrition track underway.
“The great thing is that Meredith provides multiple pathways toward becoming an RDN, which really allows us to offer our graduate students a more personalized experience that meets their needs.”