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Clinical nutrition program granted candidate status accreditation

Anne Davis

Anne Davis, Program Director for the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition program.

University of the Pacific, the first university in California to offer the future education model master’s degree in clinical nutrition and one of just two west of Nebraska, was granted candidate accreditation status in May 2020 by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

Located in Sacramento, the country’s farm-to-fork capital, the 16-month full-time program leads to a master’s degree in four trimesters and includes 1,200 supervised clinical experiential learning hours to fulfill requirements to sit for the Commission of Dietetic Registration's Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN) credentialing examination.

“We are thrilled to gain candidacy accreditation for our Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition program, which will allow us to prepare students to become outstanding entry-level dietitians,” said Nicoleta Bugnariu, founding dean of Pacific’s School of Health Sciences, of the May 14 approval by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. “In this program, we will utilize a future education model, which combines didactic and experiential learning in addition to classroom work. This will help us train next-generation practitioners, with an emphasis on evidence-based clinical decisions, research, leadership, and a humanistic approach blending compassion and emotional intelligence skills when it involves a patient’s nutritional care.”

The need for registered dietitians/nutritionists continues to grow faster than average for all professions with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting growth of 11% in the industry through 2028. In addition, a master’s degree will be necessary by Jan. 1, 2024 since the eligibility for the registered dietitian/nutritionist exam will change from a bachelor's degree to a graduate degree.

"Our graduate program in clinical nutrition is not only set-up to teach students in a traditional educational setting, but also provide them 1,200 hours of supervised clinical practice experience," said Anne Davis, the program’s director. "At completion of the program, our students will be ready to take the registered dietitian/nutritionist examination to ear the credential and enter the workforce."

The first trimester of the program is dedicated to traditional coursework to establish a foundation of knowledge and competencies. The second and third trimesters will have compressed six-week courses on campus followed supervised clinical practice experiences. In the fourth and final trimester, students complete their advanced rotations and capstone project along with a course on leadership and innovation in practice.  

Pacific has already secured supervised experiential learning placements for students with Dignity Health, Kaiser Ambulatory Clinics, Raley’s Supermarkets, San Joaquin General Hospital, Sutter Health, Valley Children's Hospital and WIC Clinics in Sacramento.

To learn more about Pacific’s new Master of Science in clinical nutrition program, contact Anne Davis at adavis3@pacific.edu or 916.733.2804.