More than ever before, people are placing greater emphasis on leading healthier lifestyles through diet and exercise and Nutrition and Dietetic Technicians, Registered (NDTRs) play a significant role in disseminating information to those working to achieve this goal.
Theresa Mazza just wrapped up her NDTR degree at Paradise Valley Community College, the only program of its kind offered within the Maricopa County Community College District. With a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and a master’s in public health already under her belt, Mazza signed up for the two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree to get back to her true passion – nutrition.
Mazza said the program is a great way for people interested in health and nutrition to get their feet wet and determine if this is the right path for them before they fully commit to a four-year RDN program at a college or university. The NDTR integrates with classroom instruction 466 hours of supervised practice in three areas of dietetics – Medical Nutrition Therapy, Community Nutrition, and Food Service Management, whereas a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) degree is four years and 1200 hours of interning.
“The NDTR degree gives you an edge with practicum and an internship experience you can build upon,” Mazza said, adding that for those students studying to become a RDN without the practicum and internship under their belt may not have the advantage when it comes to getting a match for internships, which is highly competitive.
“The program is amazing,” she continued. “I’ve made incredible contacts within the program, found three of my best friends, and started my own business. It really has set me up for success.”
NDTR students gain knowledge and skills in PVCC’s program including patient assessment, counseling and education, medical record documentation, disease prevention, sustainable food practices, and more. This leads to NDTRs being an integral part of nutrition and dietetics management teams, working independently, in partnership with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), or they may choose to work in public health and community education programs. Career options include working in a variety of industries such as:
- Clinical: hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, retirement centers, home health care programs and research facilities.
- Food Service: schools, daycare centers, correctional facilities, restaurants, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.
- Community and Public Health: Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs, public health agencies, and community health programs.
- Wellness: health clubs, weight management clinics, and community wellness centers.
- Business/entrepreneurship: food companies, vendors, and distributors, local social organizations.
- Sustainability: farm to table initiatives and community education, modern food systems, promoting community food security, advocating policy changes, working with food producers and other stakeholders.
“Students completing our program realize their potential to be amazing nutrition professionals,” said Tricia Montgomery, Registered Dietitian, Diabetes Educator and Faculty at PVCC. “Local employers like hiring our graduates because of their hours in practical experience and the level of education they have received here. We have a good job placement rate and our graduates are successful in their careers.”
Upon completion of the Nutrition and Dietetic Technology AAS degree, students must pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) to be granted the credential of Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR).
Montgomery added, “Never stop following your dreams. Whatever you want in life, work hard for it plus get any support you need to help you be successful and you will achieve it!”
As for Mazza, she plans to continue on and earn her RDN through the University of Arizona’s future education program.