I’m in my third week of Grad School. It has been surprisingly manageable while working a full-time job. I believe it is largely due to the strong foundation, my undergraduate Nutrition, Dietetics, and Wellness education and mentors in and outside my program provided. Some of my classmates come from reputable and impressive backgrounds PhDs, MDs, PharmDs, Nurses, and Scientific Research. However, I see the knowledge gaps between healthcare disciplines even more pronounced than before.
Many of the pressing Social Determinants that affect people’s health and wellness are rooted in nutrition, lifestyle factors, and behavior. All of which, comprises our Nutrition and Dietetic education. Unlike our medical and nursing colleagues, we are concerned about the whole picture of health. We are also concerned about the outside/surrounding or socio-ecological influences of health and health behavior. We also think and act in terms of systems, accounting for ALL determinants of HEALTH, not just the ones presenting to us first.
In addition, any discussion about health and fitness are often remised without mentioning Nutrition as a root cause determinant. For instance, Nutritionist/Dietitians have a strong teaching/health promotion component rooted in Behavioral Health Approaches. Our nutritional counseling framework is meant to meet individuals at their stage of change, that means we monitor progress through progression, not only in times of crisis and immediate medical need. We can potentially monitor individuals at maintenance.
Our assessments are more than simple information gathering tools. Our emphasis on evidence based behavioral approach is so fundamental to our field and profession that it permeates every part of our practice from initial & final assessments, nutrition counseling, to nutritional planning. It truly sets apart from our healthcare colleagues.
It has felt like a seamless transition from my Nutrition Education to Public Health education for the very reasons listed above. I offer them here for anyone or any student who is curious about what or where a Nutrition Education can take you. I hope you also realize your value as part of a multidisciplinary team.