IHCC offers nutrition and dietary management this fall – Ottumwacourier

OTTUMWA – After four terms in Indian Hills Community College’s new nutrition and dietary management program students will be eligible to take their certified dietary manager exams and become immediately employable, said Heather Larson, registered dietitian and instructor for the new program.

The online course focuses on nutritional education, Larson said, for students who will become dietary managers, dietitian assistants and school foodservice directors.

Larson said this area of study was important to her because, as a registered dietitian, that’s where her interest lies. The college conducted a needs analysis in that area of study and surveyed regional dietitians and dietary managers to assess the need for dietary managers.

Dietitians are now required to have master’s degrees, Larson said. Their role is to offer medical nutrition therapy. For example, dietitians assess the nutritional needs of someone undergoing dialysis.

The dietary manager is the person who takes the dietitian’s nutrition plan for patients and makes it happen. “What foods fit that? What foods actually fit that prescription?” The dietary manager is the person who makes sure the dietitian’s plan is carried out, Larson said.

The program is linked to the hospitality management and culinary arts programs at the college, but Larson said the nutrition and dietary management is more about management and doesn’t involve actual food prep.

The entire program is online except for the fourth term which consists of 150 hours of clinicals – working on-site at local facilities under the guidance of dietitians. Students can then take their certified dietary manager exams and move into the workforce, or they can continue their education.

An additional two terms will allow students to graduate with an associate of applied science degree.

IHCC partners with four-year schools to give its graduates easy transition to university programs, and this new program is no different. With a few additional science classes at IHCC, a student can transfer to the Iowa State Dietetics program, Larson said. “I would advise them through that process.”

Additional partnerships are in process which will allow students to transfer to Public Health and Health Care Administration programs in Iowa. “We’re just trying to be proactive and build that pathway for students,” Larson said.

Larson described the Nutrition and Dietary Management program as a food-focused program, but also a health service program. And she likes the flexibility, the concept that students are employable after two years but can choose to continue their education if they prefer that option.

The first-year program is open to 20 students to start. Registration for the class is ongoing. Larson said she has received applications. “We have had interest just recently,” Larson said, after posting information on the IHCC Nutrition and Dietary Management Facebook page.

The course is for people interested in food management in hospitals, long-term care or school food services. “Also individuals interested in wellness,” said Larson. The program is heavy on management. “We spend a lot of time looking at that aspect as well.”

“There are no other two-year programs like this in the state,” Larson said. Other programs exist, but they don’t offer associate level degrees, she said.


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