Faculty Spotlight: Joanna Rosebush, Ph.D., RD, LD – Applied Nutrition Program
Joanna Rosebush Ph.D., RD, LD is a faculty member at UNE Online. She earned her Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition, and her Ph.D. in Food and Nutrition Sciences with a special skill requirement in physiology. She is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and has been an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 1995.
Dr. Rosebush recently developed the course APN 615 Nutrition and Metabolism at UNE Online in the Applied Nutrition Master’s program. Her extensive experience in clinical nutrition makes her a perfect fit for this class, which was built to examine advanced concepts of human metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water as well as the biological and physiological actions of these nutrients.
Recently, we were able to ask her a few questions about her experience at UNE Online helping develop an online nutrition course, and her time here as a faculty member helping prepare her students for the real world.
How did you get interested in the field of nutrition?
I’ve always loved science. I was working toward my undergraduate zoology degree when I thought it would be interesting to take a nutrition 101 class. It was instant love. I thought “What can I do with this?!” I began a degree to become a Registered Dietitian, and have been active in several aspects of the field ever since!
Can you tell me a little about the course you helped develop at UNE Online, and the process of developing it?
I have to give credit where credit is due – Dr. Ellie Dodge, the Program Manager for the Graduate Program in Applied Nutrition, is phenomenal, and the Instructional Design team for the course was wonderful. I learned a great deal from both of them.
There are so many elements that go into developing a class. I initially underestimated the amount of time and work that would be required to build a quality course – it’s quite a large undertaking. After careful consideration and review, you select a textbook which is used as a supplement to the learning process. The textbook I chose is quite content-heavy and it’s an ambitious goal to be able to reach the learning objectives in eight weeks. It’s an intense course.
I wanted to give real life perspective, so I developed and incorporated case studies of my own, drawing from my work experiences. Each case study is based on a real life scenario that I have come across over the years. Of course, all identifying information has been removed. It was a lot of work, but I felt that giving students a glimpse into my real life experiences as a clinical dietitian was an essential piece of the course.
I also wanted to focus on a hands-on approach to learning, so we do a lot of work applying concepts to scenarios. The course is not just reading chapters and taking quizzes. For example, one thing that many nutrition professionals will need to tackle in their careerin order to perform research is an IRB proposal.* So in the course, we go through the IRB proposal process.
The student proposing the research to the committee must be able to explain their study proposal so it can be understood from different disciplines. In the course, we don’t actually conduct the study, but the students are required to come up with the proposal, think about what they want to research, and think about the best way to clearly and concisely present the study. We set them up so they’re able to put together a successful IRB proposal when they get out in their field.
* What is an IRB proposal?
IRB stands for Institutional Review Board. It’s a type of committee used in research in the United States that has been formally designated to approve, monitor, and review biomedical and behavioral research. Essentially, if you want to perform any sort of research using human subjects, you need to clear it with the institution.
The IRB acts as an advocate for the population being surveyed, to make sure the subjects are safe throughout the study. All aspects of clinical research need to predetermined and divulged to the committee, to protect the people participating.
How do you feel that the course you developed will prepare students for the real world?
As you walk away from being a student – I feel it’s important you have the ability to translate knowledge from textbooks and apply it to real life situations. This is why we make liberal use of case studies.
For this course, I drew from my own experience and designed a case study for someone with a low vitamin D level. But I wrote it in such a way that it requires the student to tease that diagnosis out – and draw out the relevant facts. Not all textbook cases are applicable to all walks of life. It’s important that students learn how to be realistic with clients and in how they approach people. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.
You need to be able to think on your feet and assess, assess, assess. Look at the situation and see – what are the different aspects telling you? Then take that textbook knowledge and apply it to the person. Nutrition is a subject area that is very much tailored to each individual.
I find that students who are right out of a degree program may sometimes revert back to textbook facts instead of applying their assessment skills to the situation. But as they build their confidence they remember what they learned in classes and begin to combine their assessment skills with their textbook knowledge.
The Applied Nutrition program mostly hires instructors who also work in the field of Nutrition. How do you feel that UNE’s practitioner-in-the-field faculty members are uniquely prepared to educate students?
I feel very very passionately about instructors having experience in the field in which they are teaching. How can I be a truly effective teacher without having applied the concepts that I am teaching? We use real life examples that pertain to the textbook material, but I think it’s important to have actual experience so you don’t get out of touch with the real world.
In your teaching, how do you foster a sense of community among your online students?
The key is communication. Our course has an active discussion board, and the students use course messaging, but they also communicate with one another through more casual channels like social media.
For my part, I hold office hours each week, during which I often interact with students on the phone. Sometimes we use Google Hangouts, which is casual – kind of like walking into an office and dropping by. Everyone is busy, so it’s nice to be able to do that. Office hours don’t always work for everyone due to time differences, but I’m flexible. For example, I have students all over the world, so we have to work together to fit in a time to connect that works for both of us.
I also use the web conferencing tool, Blackboard Collaborate, to have conversations with students or hold tutoring sessions.
What do you feel sets the UNE Online Applied Nutrition program apart?
I feel that the UNE Online Applied Nutrition program is leaps and bounds ahead of other Universities with the way the classes are structured and taught. The courses are led by an amazing faculty who hail from all over the country. Each faculty member has their various specialty, and area of expertise, and they’re passionate about their subject.
Do you have any insight into any up and coming career paths for people graduating with a Master’s Degree in Applied Nutrition?
I think the area of weight loss and weight management is going to be an area where there will be lots of opportunities in the near future – given our country’s struggle with obesity. I also see that the health coaching industry is beginning to favor people with a strong specialized nutrition education background.
Veterinary nutrition is another up-and-coming area of nutrition, and the food manufacturing industry also has great opportunities. Big name companies are always in product-development mode, working on new recipes and food formulations to meet certain dietary needs – and they need people with a nutrition background to accomplish this.
What topics or trends are you excited about in the nutrition world?
I’m not a fan of restrictive diets because in the world of nutrition there are no quick fixes. What I see on the horizon is the increasing prevalence of health coaching – people who help others achieve permanent behavioral change. I could see success in a type of program that promotes the benefits of a slow and steady method – consistently making good decisions and getting right back on track if you fall off the wagon. It’s not glamorous, but it’s what’s best.
What do you like most about UNE students?
UNE Online students come from all walks of life and all different backgrounds. I find them to be extremely enthusiastic and eager to learn. It’s a joy to be able to teach them and help them in class. The composition of every single class is different too, which is fun.
If there’s one thing you would want a potential student to know before starting in this field, what would it be?
It’s challenging. You’re going to need to put time and energy into your studies. But you can make it happen. At the end of the day – it’s so rewarding you’ll be glad you put the effort in. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Thank you so much, Dr. Rosebush, for your time, and for sharing your insights with us!
If you were to be interested in an Applied Nutrition degree at UNE Online, or if you have any questions about the program, get in touch with an enrollment counselor at (855) 751-4447 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, fill out an online application now at online.une.edu/gateway-portal-page. We look forward to hearing from you!