School of Nursing to Offer Nutrition Master’s

nutritionartBeginning fall 2010, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing will offer its first non-nursing degree: a master of science in nutrition and dietetics.

“When we consider our nation’s obesity epidemic, the complexity of health-care delivery, and the use of the Internet as a source of health information, we realize that we must make fundamental changes in the way we educate health-care professionals. This includes preparing advanced-practice registered dietitians who can expand their roles in the process and delivery of health care,” says Linda Norman, professor of nursing and senior associate dean for academics.

The master’s program offers two specialty tracks: Nutrition Informatics and Nutrition Management in Health-Care Systems. “The program is designed to integrate the groundbreaking nutrition research being conducted by Vanderbilt faculty with theory-based course content and state-of-the-art clinical practice,” explains Heidi Silver, program director and research assistant professor of medicine.

The new field of nutrition informatics involves retrieving, organizing, storing and using information and data to help individuals, families and communities solve food, nutrition and diet-related problems. Applications include using Web-based systems to develop, implement and monitor nutrition and diet interventions; creating databases to measure nutrition-related health outcomes; and incorporating the nutrition care process in the electronic health record.

The Nutrition Management in Health-Care Systems track will prepare advanced-practice professionals for leadership, management or administrative roles. It builds on the strength of VUSN’s Health Systems Management program for nurses. For dietitians, future positions could include chronic disease case managers, community and public-health agency administrators, nutrition pharmaceutical and home-health agency managers, as well as private-practice entrepreneurs.

The program is offered in a modified distance-learning format with synchronous and asynchronous online teaching. The only campus requirement will be a two- to four-day visit at the beginning and end of each semester.

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