Becoming a Registered Dietitian Takes Hard Work in the Didactic Program for Dietitians
Some 120 undergraduate students, and 16 graduate students, are studying to become registered dietitians in the Didactic Program for Dietitians (DPD). This program, part of the Foods and Nutrition department of ENS, is required to become a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are also required to pass a licensing exam, complete 1,200 hours of internship and take continuing education courses throughout their careers. While there is no uniform requirement to practice as a nutritionist, only those who have satisfied these requirements may call themselves registered dietitians.
DPD students participate in the program during the last 3 semesters of their degree and take specialized classes covering medical nutritional therapy, professional responsibilities and ethics, counseling, education, and communication skills. As with many other programs within CHHS, the emphasis is on evidence-based practice and a high degree of professionalism and there is a substantial emphasis in “learning by doing.” In addition to coursework, DPD students also engage in clinical experience, community volunteer work, research or leadership in the Student Nutritional Organization. Many also have food service work experience. The program’s goal, according to director Joan Rupp, is to “produce well-rounded experienced graduates who will be competitive in the internship process.” The program is working on expanding their collaboration opportunities with other programs within CHHS to increase student’s experience in working in teams and to provide a broader understanding of the “big picture” to consider for each patient.
There are approximately 250 internship sites nationwide, and about as many DPD pro- grams, so competition to land an internship spot is fierce. On average, about 40% of a program’s graduates get internships, but for SDSU students the figure is significantly higher – about 75% each year.
The SDSU program is one of the top-ranked programs in the country and its graduates go on to jobs in a wide variety of placements. Approximately 40% of the graduates work in a hospital or other traditional health care setting. Some use the strong science back- ground as a springboard to becoming nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants. Some go on to more creative careers as dieticians to celebrities, musicians, or professional athletes. One alumna works with the US Olympic rowing team. They write books and blogs, help identify healthy dining options, or work with school nutrition programs. Private practice areas include working with patients with disordered eating or helping couples overcoming infertility by having a strong nutritional program. Rupp notes, “It is a career area where you can combine what you do with what you love.”
Adaptive Fitness Clinic Founder Honored
Dr. Peter Aufsesser is an emeritus professor in the School of Exercise & Nutritional Sciences. He retired in 2015 after 40 years at SDSU.
On April 24, 2017, Dr. Aufsesser was honored as the Founder and Director of the Adaptive Fitness Clinic. Dr. Aufsesser founded the Clinic in 1983 and served as its director for 28 years. The Clinic was originally called the Fitness Clinic for Individuals with Disabilities.
At the clinic’s annual end of year party, Dr. Aufsesser received a gift and was presented with a plaque with his likeness that will hang in the Adaptive Fitness Clinic. Many former and current faculty and staff members from the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, as well as clinic clients, attended the event.
While at SDSU, Dr. Aufsesser received many university and professional awards, including:
- Monty Award (2004) as the outstanding faculty in the College
- President’s Leadership Award (2009) for his work in the community
- Channel 10 Leadership Award twice
- Adapted Physical Educator of the Year (1991)
- Pioneer Award (2003) and Exemplary Program Award (2005) from the National Conference on Physical Education for Exceptional Individuals.
- National Multiple Sclerosis Association Program Provider of the Year award (2009)
- Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (2012) for his national leader- ship work with aquatic programs for individuals with disabilities
In retirement, Dr. Aufsesser raises funds for homeless children through the It’s All About the Kids Foundation and volunteers to teach third grade math.
Since its founding, the clinic has grown to assist more than 300 individuals each year, providing customized fitness pro- grams. ENS students provide one-on-one assistance to the clients, providing practical experience for students while helping clients achieve their fitness goals.