In its 20th year, Paradise Valley Community College’s Nutrition and Dietetic Technician program is attracting students aiming to fast track their careers and begin working in the field they love while finishing their higher level degrees.
The Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR) program is a two-year associate of applied science degree that gives students a glimpse into the industry before committing to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) master’s program. PVCC’s two-year program is the only Maricopa County Community College District college offering the program that integrates practicum with hands-on internship experience.
“The students find this route appealing because the NDTR program integrates classroom instruction with more than 400 hours of supervised, hands-on practice in medical nutrition therapy, community nutrition and food service management,” explained Program Director Tricia Montgomery, RD. “It’s a game changer for acquiring experience quickly while pursuing your degrees.”
The internship experience is key for several reasons. As an NDTR, you can begin working in the field immediately, making a decent salary while you continue to work towards your RDN, if desired, which is a much more intensive and time consuming program. NDTRs are an integral part of nutrition and dietetics teams, working either independently or in partnership with RDNs in the clinical setting, as food service directors, community based nutrition programs like WIC, or in private practice.
Secondly, in a RDN program, students acquire internships through a matching program, which currently has about a 60-70% matching rate. Therefore, having internship experience under your belt instantly makes you a stronger candidate in this process.
Transferring is Easy
PVCC’s partnerships with Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University allow you to transfer your NDTR credits seamlessly, keeping you on track to a four-year degree. Additionally, beginning in 2024, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will require a master’s degree plus internship to sit for the RDN exam.
“With the addition of the graduate degree requirement to become an RDN, there will be an increase in demand for NDTR’s in the field to help with filling dietetic positions in healthcare and community settings,” explained Montgomery. “The Phoenix metro area already has a strong job market for NDTR’s and as the population continues to grow in the valley, we will see the need for nutrition professionals expand even more.”
Upon completion of PVCC’s NDTR program, students must pass a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) to be granted the NDTR credential. PVCC’s applied science degree also enables graduates of the program to take the national Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) exam. This designation can make you eligible for managerial positions in the food services industry.
“There are so many benefits to taking this route for students interested in nutrition and dietetics,” Montgomery said. “While working in the field with an NDTR, you can also take advantage of tuition breaks while pursuing your bachelors and masters degrees.”
NDTRs have an array of employment opportunities while completing their degrees, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and retirement facilities, hospices and home health care programs. NDTRs also can work independently in providing general nutrition education to healthy populations in various settings such as public health agencies, schools, correctional facilities, restaurants, corporations, health and wellness centers, and more.