LAU’s first class of nutrition graduates pass with flying colors
Students experience an impressive 95 percent success rate on the Registration Examination for Dietitians due, in part, to their internship experience.
LAU’s first graduates in the nutrition undergraduate program are well on their way to positioning themselves for successful careers. In fact, this first promotion of students, who graduated in Spring 2012, experienced an impressive 95 percent success rate on the Registration Examination for Dietitians, a test administered by Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education that allows graduates to become licensed dietitians in Lebanon.
One of the key factors attributed to the graduates’ success is their participation in LAU’s new dietetic internship program. Lasting six to nine months, the university’s internship program was launched to provide graduates with hands-on learning opportunities and to meet the internship requirement for candidates sitting for the Registration Examination for Dietitians.
Graduates participating in the program interned at University Medical Center-Rizk Hospital (LAU Medical Center–Rizk Hospital), which is able to accommodate 13 to 15 students at a time, as well as other hospitals and agencies around the country such as World Vision International, International Orthodox Christian Charities, DiaLeb, and the Chronic Care Center. In line with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the interns completed rotations in three different areas including clinical nutrition, community nutrition, and food service management.
Commenting on the rich experience that graduates gained through the internship, Dr. Nadine Zeeni, assistant professor of nutrition and coordinator of the nutrition program, said, “Throughout the program, students had the chance to integrate academic skills and practice experience, as well as leadership in the fields of medical nutrition therapy, food service management, and community health programs.”
The first of the internship participants were awarded certificates at a ceremony held on October 2, 2013 and their enthusiasm for the internship program in particular and their field in general was visibly discernable. International student Shoug al Nafeesi, who interned at LAU Medical Center–Rizk Hospital, described her experience, “The program most definitely exceeded my expectations…I had no doubts of what the people behind the program are capable of. Their efforts have provided me with a challenging internship where I was constantly learning. Now, I have completed an internship in the field of nutrition that I am most passionate about, and heading towards my dream of working in emergency relief.”
Iman Awada, a former intern at LAU Medical Center–Rizk Hospital, echoed similar sentiment, “It was a great experience that was very different from everything we learned theoretically. We were exposed to different cases and had the chance to practice what we learned, adding a lot more to our knowledge.” Citing parenteral and enteral nutrition intensive care unit (ICU) rotations as being most helpful to her future career in nutrition, Awada added, “I learned how to feed bed-bound patients through different routes and got involved in heavy medical files and practices which I hadn’t encountered before.”
Given the demand for, and the success of, LAU’s undergraduate nutrition program, there are plans to launch a master’s program in nutrition in the near future. “There is a pressing need for research studies in the field of nutrition, concurrent with the alarming increase in the prevalence of nutrition and food related health problems in the Middle East and North Africa in the last three decades,” stated Zeeni.