Many people are surprised (and interested!) when they hear that majoring in Nutrition is a possibility. To help explain what it means to be a nutrition student, we have asked a current, upper-classman nutrition student to talk us through a day in the life of being a nutrition student. Meet Linda!
Hey there! My name is Linda Steinhardt, and I am a current dietetics student at the University of Texas. I will be in the Coordinated Program beginning next year. I am looking forward to taking you on “a day in the life” of a dietetics student; although my days vary, the excitement, business, and amazingly interesting coursework does not!
My Mondays are generally pretty packed, so the day started with a 5 a.m. alarm (living in Cedar Park, I have to account for LOTS of traffic on the commute in). I went to the gym before needing to head to class. Fun fact, my interest in keeping active stems from my background of playing volleyball in college and now competing in triathlons. This sparked my interest in sports nutrition early on, and I have always appreciated the need for fueling performance. My goal is to help athletes do the same when I become a credentialed registered dietitian!
At 9:00, my first class begins: Medical Nutrition Therapy I. This class is super interesting because we learn about different diseases (this semester, we are talking about chronic diseases; next semester will be acute diseases) and then discuss how a clinical dietitian would assess, diagnose, intervene, and continually monitor these patients to treat and promote best health outcomes possible. This class has been eye opening for me to see how big a role nutrition plays in the ability of a person to stay strong enough to withstand or recover from a treatment. For example, we learned the ins and outs of why patients with cancer have much better outcomes if they can maintain their weight and are able to keep from becoming malnourished and why patients with Crohn’s disease may have severe malabsorption because of complications in the small intestine. Dietitians can play a huge role in assisting the patient on how to maintain proper nourishment given their circumstances. Throughout the semester, we are given case studies where we get to assess a patient on an online patient portal tool and make ADIME notes with our recommendations for practical application.
Next, I typically have Community Nutrition at 10:00. We had been learning about food insecurity and government programs that have been started over the years to help populations in need. As a part of this, we had a built-in class day to visit the LBJ Library and a museum of our choice. Since my friends and I had already gone a few days ago, I took this time to study for an upcoming test. I reviewed topics such as how to conduct a community needs assessment to determine what sorts of needs a population may have related to nutrition. I also reviewed policies that had been established such as the National School Lunch Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I love how this class emphasizes the importance of helping people learn about, gain access to, and feel confident about the nutrition they have available.
Lastly, I had a writing intensive course that deals with current issues in nutrition. We get to write a literature review on a nutrition topic of our choice (how exciting!!) throughout the semester. I am focusing on the factors that influence the development of eating disorders in elite athletes. We are currently working on compiling all of our research articles into an evidence table, and will then begin writing our introductions shortly after. Along the way, we will focus on other smaller assignments like building and presenting a media article that is based on an actual research and our analysis on how accurately the media portrays the research.
After those three classes, I headed to my job in UT athletics until 6:00, where I am a student assistant and manage the fuel station. My role is to create education for the student athletes, create social media content for the Performance Nutrition Instagram, cook “Taste Test Tuesday” samples, help facilitate various tasks getting done at the fuel station along with interns, and ensure the fuel station is being properly kept. This semester, I am also creating events, education, and themed weeks for National Nutrition Month! This has been a great opportunity for me to learn under some of the best sports dietitians in the country, and although it makes for some long days, I would not trade it for anything!
I got home a bit after 7:00, ate dinner, watched some news, and finished up a few quick homework items. I try to have an hour of “winding down time” while eating dinner and subsequently watching some news to decompress from long days to let my mind relax. The dietetics program at UT has allowed me to pursue my passion, meet so many amazing friends and professors, and given me knowledge I never knew existed. Can’t wait for Tuesday!
If you are interesting in learning about all of the nutrition education options at UT Austin click here. We have bachelors in nutritional sciences and dietetics, masters degrees that can be completed online or in-residence, and a nutritional sciences doctoral degree!
Linda Steinhardt, current Coordinated Program in Dietetics student, is the author of this post.
Katie Greer, current nutrition student, edited and posted the story.