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Dietetics Grads

100 Percent of U-Idaho Cd’A Dietetics Graduates Find Employment


By Donna Emert


The University of Idaho nutrition and dietetics program in Coeur d'Alene currently boasts a 100 percent job placement rate for its graduates.


Many students begin their education with an associate of science degree from North Idaho College and then continue, seamlessly, into a bachelor of science degree at University of Idaho in Coeur d'Alene.


U-Idaho and NIC have a partnered to optimize the education for students interested in the field of dietetics, offering a coordinated program.


The program also partners with North Idaho medical and health care facilities, including Kootenai Health and the Salvation Army Kroc Center, to provide internship and practicum experiences as students complete their final year.


In terms of an educational investment, it doesn't get much better than graduating into 100 percent job placement. But in this case, it actually does get better:


"Our coordinated program in dietetics is highly regarded by our institutional partners," said SeAnne Safaii, assistant professor of food and nutrition at University of Idaho Coeur d'Alene. "Last year 100 percent of our graduates passed their national registration exam."


The 18 who have graduated from UI-CdA have all found jobs. Thirty-two more are enrolled here and expect to find work immediately as well.


Employment opportunity for nutrition and dietetics graduates will likely remain high, said Safaii. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in the field of dietetics are expected to increase through 2020, and faster than many other jobs in the health care industry.


One hundred percent success on the arduous national dietetic registration exam, which is required to enter the profession, is a good indicator that the new dietitians know their stuff, while one hundred percent employment after finishing school is a college graduate's dream scenario.


Whitney Fehringer graduated from the program in 2010 and immediately found work as a dietitian for the Tulare County, Calif., Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program. The job is no small potatoes; her agency serves around 31,000 participants.


Fehringer's daily tasks include helping high risk clients, including diabetics, infants requiring special formula and underweight children. She performs outreach education and supervises paraprofessional staff as needed, and is responsible for staff and program auditing. Fehringer also is an active member of the Wellness Committee that runs the region's WIC Worksite Wellness program for employees.


This spring, less than one year after graduating, Fehringer served as a speaker at the California WIC Association Annual Meeting. She was not intimidated.


"This was a great experience for me, and reminded me of all of the presentations we did for the coordinated program," she said.


Fehringer believes her education helped strengthen her personal skills as well as her professional knowledge.


"The instructors helped us build such a high work ethic and high expectations for ourselves," said Fehringer. "I have used many of the skills I learned, including motivational interviewing, management, speaking, making presentations and counseling, just to name a few."


Fehringer was grateful for the opportunity to earn her university degree without leaving the area.


"It was helpful for me to be in Coeur d'Alene, first of all, because it is my home," she said.


"Coeur d'Alene is a beautiful and amazing place. One feature that makes it unique, which has really become apparent to me after leaving, is how active the town is. It just seems like a very health-conscious place, which makes it very suiting for dietitians."


Coeur d'Alene community partnerships are important to the program and to its graduates' success.


"The partnership between the University of Idaho and North Idaho College is foundational to providing educational support to the North Idaho community. I am grateful for the opportunities this community has given our dietetic students," said Samantha Ramsay, assistant professor and director of the coordinated program in dietetics.




Donna Emert is with University of Idaho Communications.
Story published with permission from the CDA Press.