Having an emphasis in nutrition informatics at UMD has its advantages. As interns we have the opportunity to rotate through a multitude of non-traditional sites. Through my undergrad, I was sheltered in the sense that the only positions I thought RDs had were in clinical, foodservice, or community nutrition. But there is a whole other world out there! Nutrition informatics is such a unique way to use your knowledge and brings about some exciting opportunities.
I’m currently at the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), an agency within the USDA. The phenomenal staff is comprised of nutritionists, nutrition scientists, dietitians, economists, and policy experts. The CNPP staff helps define and coordinate nutrition education policy within the USDA and translates nutrition research into information and materials for consumers, policymakers, and professionals in health, education, industry, and media. They are huge promoters of MyPlate and have an integral role in SuperTracker, a free online application to help Americans build a healthier diet, manage weight, and reduce risk of chronic diet-related disease. It’s amazing to see the time and energy that goes behind making the American population a healthier one and the impact dietitians can have in this process.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this rotation so far and look forward to my next three weeks there. Seeing this non-traditional side of dietetics has really sparked my interest of thinking outside the box. Internship programs are not only giving you hours and hands-on-experience, it’s enabling you to see first-hand your likes and dislikes. There are so many more possibilities for dietitians today than just the traditional clinical or foodservice arena. The profession is only expanding, so take the leap and find something unique – you never know what you’ll find!