Published on April 24, 2020 by Sarah Waller  
Rebecca Thompson thumbnail

Many nutrition and dietetics majors in Samford University’s School of Public Health work toward a career as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), but before they can take the national certification exam, they must first complete a dietetic internship.

The School of Public Health boasts a high match rate for its nutrition and dietetic seniors, and this year was no exception—100% of the seniors who applied for a dietetic internship matched with a program.

This includes Rebecca Thompson, who matched with the dietetic internship offered by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, which is among the  most competitive programs in the country. 

Thompson came to Samford, enrolling as a university fellow and public health major. But she quickly realized that she felt called to a more specific discipline. “I realized I desired a major that allowed for unique specialization in one primary facet of health promotion,” she said. “After shadowing many health professionals and analyzing the course work, I enthusiastically switched my major to the one that sparked my interest most—nutrition and dietetics.” 

Thompson admits, the transition to nutrition and dietetics’ science-rich curriculum was not the easiest, but she quickly found her footing—enough that she served as a tutor for other students in general chemistry, organic chemistry and calculus for the remainder of her time at Samford.

As a nutrition and dietetics major, Thompson says her experience was multifaceted, providing her hands-on experience in research, recipe development, communication, foodservice management and more. 

“Working innumerable hours in foodservice facilities affirmed a love for food preparation and the artistry it should involve—as well as food safety, effective management, and meaningful service to customers,” she said. “And interning with the talented registered dietitian and chef Jessica Ivey also impacted me greatly. She allowed me to advance my cooking skills and creativity as we tested recipes she had developed. She also allowed me to develop infographics and meal plans that she then utilized professionally.”

In addition, as a part of her senior seminar course, Thompson facilitated a research project that focused on testing the effects of the ketogenic diet on athletic performance in active females between the ages of 18 and 27 years old. “The experience was incredibly gratifying, utilizing science to separate fact from fiction. Plus, it incorporated my joy of planning and conducting research with great attentiveness to detail.”

As she looks forward to moving to Boston this fall to begin her dietetic internship—taking one step closer to becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist—Thompson feels confident that her education and experience at Samford make her well-prepared for what lies ahead. “I am thankful for where I am right now and am eager to dive into my next chapter,” she said.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.