Dietetics: Coursework is Over!

End. Of. Didactic.

No more coursework!
Baiiiiiiiiiiii

If you’ve been hanging out here, you probably know there are a few hoops to jump through before you get the joy of becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), which you can reference here.

Ready to take a little stroll down memory lane with me?

Jax is a v helpful biostats tutor. Actually Zack genuinely is- but he’s not pictured.

The didactic portion lasted from August 2018-December 2019 and included biochemistry-heavy classes like energy and non-energy nutrients as well as nutrition classes like medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and counseling. There were also two public health classes, a foodservice management course (the bane of my existence), and lots more. My program had the option to tack on another semester to get the M.A. in Dietetics and an M.S. in Nutritional Sciences, so I figured “why the hell not?” and I packed a whole other semester of coursework into this Fall semester, because I’m a glutton for punishment. Honestly, I just do not enjoy school and I desperately need it to end (aka ya girl misses a paycheck). Usually people take an additional semester to tack on the M.S. coursework, but I distinctly remember thinking, “I can handle this!” and I did! Not well. Not gracefully. I didn’t sleep and rarely got a day off to rest. But here we are.

Why the additional Master’s?

Let me preface by saying I think you can FOR SURE be successful without one in this profession, but here’s my logic anyway:

– I don’t have a science degree. My B.A. is in sociology, and without the science degree, this program is by default an M.A. in Dietetics…and that kinda bummed me out. Didn’t want to be limited by the arts, even though I so very much appreciate them and will forever be proud of my liberal arts background. I feel like my resume should reflect that I took a crap ton of biochem and organic chemistry and biology to get here, ya know?
– The field of dietetics is changing so quickly, and I didn’t want to be swept away in its undertow.
– Did I sign up for more classes because I was afraid of being limited professionally? Yes. And I don’t want to look back and say, “Yeah- I could’ve done that.” NO. RA.GRETS. (p.s. I reached out to lots of RD friends before making this decision and most feedback was, “well…it wouldn’t hurt!”)
– And finally…I don’t mind research. I did some undergrad research at UT, and it was a worthwhile experience (although painful). I seriously don’t mind putting in the work. Plus, I’m getting some data on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients that we can build on for the future, which is meaningful to me.

This past semester we started our clinical rotations on Fridays, and this is my clinical group. Don’t let the white coats fool ya- we still have all the things to learn, but it’s exciting to get to see patients. I found out that I really love critical care and calculating tube feedings for specific disease states, and of course I love GI nutrition, too. I mean. Of course. I’m leaning heavily toward clinical pediatrics, but I’m open-minded to wherever the wind blows!

Not pictured: I took 19 hours of coursework, which until October was actually 22 hours because I was busy catching up from the Summer semester when I had to delay classes for a hospital stay. If you’re new here, I’ve been in a Crohn’s disease flare since 2017. It was “ulcerative colitis” and now it’s “Crohn’s” and we can’t seem to find a diagnosis or a drug that sticks.

Here I am, in the middle of finals hooked up to an IV that I happily drive 6 hours round trip to receive. This drug is designed to target my gut inflammation specifically by making it calm the eff down, but my body seems to have other plans of being even more resilient than the medicine and has neglected to respond to it despite 5 months of trying this drug. It’s fine.

Oh- speaking of the Crohn’s, my college roommate turned lifelong pal Haley and I participated in the Foundation’s Spin4 Crohn’s and Colitis Cures fundraising event, and our team “Pina Colitis” raised more than $2,000 in November. Thanks to everyone who donated! Thank you to everyone who purchased the fun smoothie eBook that I made! Couldn’t have done it without y’all.

^smoothie recipe from the eBook 🙂

^here’s an unfiltered look at my walk to school. Isn’t fall here pretty? Fall always makes academics feel more academic. To keep this all brief, I’m going to sum this up with highs and lows:

Highs from didactic:
– all of the nutrition-specific classes
– getting less uncomfortable with public speaking
– making good friends!!!
– cool opportunities: getting to attend lots of conferences, continuing education, networking events, interning, etc. So many chances to keep learning in lots of different areas!

Lows from didactic:
– group projects
– tests. I hate a test. I’d love to soak up information through lectures and projects and presentations and papers, but GAWD I HATE TESTS
– my health. not in a good place. Kinda tired of that.

Learning how to drop a feeding tube!

Finally- if you’re interested in dietetics and nutrition…reach out to me! I’m always happy to gush about the field and try to convince you why it’s my favorite profession and should be yours too 😉

If you’re thinking about health sciences but you’re deterred from all the hard sciences and dedication- just keep telling yourself all the hard things you do over and over every day. We are all juggling hard stuff- sometimes we get the privilege of prioritizing school temporarily over other hard times…and other times, like right now, we are done with coursework, relaxing on the couch with The Holiday playing in the background, not worried about another final.

Not gonna miss ya, coursework. Here’s to what’s next: supervised practice, and more immediately, a cup of hot chocolate


Where I’m headed in Nutrition

WUFF LAWDAMERCY School has been BUSY lately!

How have yall been?

Something on my mind lately- to be honest, it’s a little existential. When I first started my master’s program in nutrition to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), believe it or not…I had no desire to become a healthcare provider in the realm of GI. At all. No gastrointestinal grossness for me, please and thanks, especially with being a patient and all. NOPE. Hard pass.

But then.

I kept getting mad, honestly. I was mad that IBD and IBS were constantly categorized as one and the same- it would be like telling someone with type 1 diabetes that it was just like type 2. And then I got mad once I realized that we constantly fail our patients by giving them micronutrient infusions but then not ensuring they’re accessible….aka, “medically necessary” by insurance companies…aka Susan needs an iron infusion, and now she’s slapped with a big ass bill, because her insurance company isn’t covering it since it’s not a “medically necessary” pharmaceutical, so Susan stops her iron infusions short, and now we struggle to get her healed timely and optimally. I feel like as healthcare professionals we are stopping the care short by not ensuring that it’s extended and accessible for healing. ugh. Makes me…mad.

And then.

I started learning about energy nutrients (aka biochemistry for food, which sounds boring and disgusting, but meet mega-nerd Stacey. She loves this shit). I learned about all the different parts of the GI tract, where food is absorbed, how we can enhance bio-availability of certain nutrients by pairing them with others. And oh no- I liked it all.

What I’m saying is…I have decided to write my thesis over nutrition in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), and I want to work with medically complex cases- GI diseases and the like… in the worst way. I need to think really hard, and GI diseases are tough to treat. They’re fascinating (I say this as a patient!) and terrible (see? still a patient!), and nutrition support is so, so crucial.



I also still want to write nutrition articles for endurance athletes for magazines. Ever since Andi Anderson on How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, I can’t seem to shake the dream of working for a magazine, and I refuse to let my adult self out-grow that junior high school daydream. And I also want to consult for MLB teams, and I don’t care who you are; I can out-baseball talk you any day. Unless you’re a Yankees fan, in which case I doubt you’re a real fan of the game and would venture to guess that you’re only a fan of winning, and I can’t say that I blame ya…but boy, bye.
xoxo love ya forever, Houston Astros.

But that’s the cool magic of the nutrition field. I’m going to be able to piece-meal my career together so it doesn’t fit a conventional, boring mold.

All this has me thinking…oh boy.
In October 2012 when I was handed my diagnosis of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, it’s like a new life began for me. My thought process shifted, and I became more tender, softer, empathetic, stronger, thicker, resilient, and driven. I 100% do not believe everything happens for a reason, but I’m oddly thankful for an unfortunate diagnosis forcing me to be a vulnerable patient in a flawed heath care system. If I can’t change it, I deeply hope I can bring some light to it (I’m not entirely naive here; I’ve worked in healthcare- just hopeful).

And in the meantime, I’ll write a boring thesis that asks thoughtful questions and has a few hopeful answers for the future of GI diseases.
I’m excited.

And I’ll be rooting for the ‘Stros.

And for you!

-Stacey







^Post Hurricane Harvey at Houston Methodist Hospital

P.S. Posting pictures of Houston like I know where I’m headed…but I HAVE NO IDEA where I’m headed. Just along for the ride!