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SHSU Offers Dietetic Internship Program

Zaheer Ali Kirmani
Zaheer Ali Kirmani, director of the dietetic internship program, lectures to students on the importance of proper diet.

Fast food, fatty snacks, and overindulgence make it all too easy to get wrapped-up in a cycle of unhealthy eating. But with the fattest city in America just miles away (Houston, according to a recent study by Men's Fitness), Huntsvillians have to be careful not to jump on the "bandwagon of bulge."

In its own way, the Sam Houston State University Department of Family and Consumer Sciences is doing their part to curb the cycle of flabby fat, serving up generous portions of education and training.

Nutritional education at SHSU has been ongoing since 1975; however, a new dietetic internship program offered to graduate students is providing a practical outlet to utilize textbook skills.

The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences is developmentally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) for a dietetic internship program.

The purpose of the internship is to provide supervised experience and graduate education while providing educational and professional competencies essential for entry-level dietetic practitioners.

The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences feels this internship, coupled with the master of arts degree currently offered, "enhances the professional caliber of the graduates of the program." The background gained enables graduates to enter the rapidly expanding field of dietetics with greater professionalism and educational knowledge and service.

"The candidates who successfully complete the dietetic internship program are professional with credentials of registered dieticians," said Zaheer Ali Kirmani, assistant professor and director of the internship program.

Interns in the dietetic program complete a 1,000-hour curriculum in four rotations during a sixteen-month period. Each rotation involves different didactic experiences, including clinical nutrition, community nutrition, foodservice systems management, and research.

Working in various community facilities, participants are able to apply skills learned in the classroom in a "real-world" setting. The rotation sites include medical centers, rehabilitation clinics, childcare centers and retirement facilities in various towns from Huntsville to Houston to Coldspring. Kirmani is also working hard to get area prison facilities to become rotation sites.

"I hope to have them on board soon," said Kirmani.

Activities range from conducting dietary assessments on hospital patients to giving workshops on good nutrition.

Interns successfully completing the Dietetic Internship Program will be verified for eligibility to write for the ADA Registration Examination, leading to credentialing as a registered dietician (RD).

The potential to become a professional upon completion of a master's degree is a rare campus opportunity, according to Kirmani.

"There are so many jobs available once the program is complete," he said. Five students currently participate in the internship program, which was begun in Fall 2001. The American Dietetic Association allows up to ten students to participate in the program each year.

"We are in the process of accepting 10 new students for Fall 2002 entry into the program," explained Janis White, chair of the department of family and consumer sciences.

Donald Bumpass, director of graduate studies, praises the new program. "The program is a good example of how SHSU faculty has been able to identify the needs of their students and then work to address those needs," he said. "Dr. Kirmani and Dr. White should be applauded for their efforts in developing the program."

Bumpass feel this is an important program because students learn skills that not only benefit them individually, but that work to benefit the entire community.

For more information regarding the dietetic internship program, contact Zaheer Ali Kirmani at 936.294.1245.

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SHSU Media Contact: Audrey Wick
March 27, 2002
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