Southeast Missouri State University’s undergraduate dietetic program and graduate dietetic internship program are now accredited by the American Dietetic Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE), an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Both programs received 10-year accreditation after undergoing a lengthy process of self-evaluation, followed by a three-day site visit by the accreditation team, according to Dr. Marcia Nahikian-Nelms, associate professor of human environmental studies and director of Southeast’s dietetics program. The team met with all constituents of the programs, including current students, graduates, faculty and staff; and then presented their report to the national accreditation commission, she said.
“The real work for accreditation is ongoing, though, because the faculty must have a plan in place that consistently reviews outcome measures for the programs so that ongoing changes can be made,” she said. “Our assessment is continuous so that we can respond to changes that need to be made in all aspects of our programs.”
The accreditation verifies that Southeast’s programs meet national standards, says Nahikian-Nelms.
“It assures anyone looking at our programs that they are competitive with any other dietetic program at any other university,” she said. “This demonstrates to students that our curriculum provides the education required for a practicing registered dietitian. It indicates to them that our programs are equal or better than the programs at any other university providing dietetic education,” she said.
“Our undergraduate program has a 95 percent pass rate on the national registration examination and a 95 percent acceptance rate into graduate programs and post-graduate dietetic internships,” Nahikian-Nelms added. “This compares to a national pass rate of 85 percent and an acceptance rate of approximately 70 percent into post-graduate dietetic internships.”
Southeast’s graduate dietetic internship provides students with the education and experiences required by CADE, added Dr. Anne Marietta, assistant professor of human environmental studies and director of Southeast’s dietetic internship program. Students cannot take the national credentialing exam without completing an accredited internship.
“The dietetic internship is an excellent example of the experiential learning opportunities offered at Southeast,” Marietta added. “It combines the demands of academic rigor with on-site practice at various sites in Southeast Missouri. Our interns work in hospitals, health departments, schools, long-term care facilities and industry.”
Southeast currently has 50 undergraduate students in the dietetics program and seven approved positions for graduate dietetic interns.