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Considering an online, one-year masters in nutrition during my gap year

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BradyJV

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Hello, everyone. Long story short - My grades, LOR's, extracurriculars, etc should be decently competitive for medical school and wouldn't use this masters in a way to try to "boost" my application. I decided to pursue medicine after dietary and lifestyle changes that helped me tremendously. I'm graduating with an undergraduate degree in biology and considering a master's in nutrition with an emphasis on clinical/medical nutrition during my gap year. Why? I want to pursue research in the future in nutritional sciences (among others - I would be interested in almost any research and yes, I know I can do research without the degree), I'm very convinced of the relationship between nutritional consumption and disease, I like the idea of preventative medicine and getting to the route of diseases, and I'd like to write books in the future on the topic among other goals.

From Arizona State University's online Master of Science in Medical Nutrition page: "Although 94% of physicians believe nutrition counseling should be a standard component of primary care, only 14% feel qualified to provide it."

There are 4-5 online nutrition (non-thesis) master degrees that I believe will help with my future goals. I'm planning a gap year anyways to get extra clinical experience and patient contact, shadowing hours, additional volunteer work, and prepare to get the highest score possible on the MCAT. The cost of the degree will range from $17k - $23k. I feel like this would be justified given my goals, but I'm looking for the thoughts of those wiser than myself.

Quick recap: ~ $20k for masters in nutrition degree. Online, non-thesis. One year program that I can finish during my planned gap year anyways. Reputable universities to choose from - Arizona State, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, etc. (The most prestigous universities? No, but still nice to me - someone graduating from a college with only 9 other students in my class.)
 

electropartyogram

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Not trying to give advice on this or anything, but athletic performance, health, and nutrition is something I am very passionate about. But I just want to share some thoughts.

Is this only a Master's or is this also a certification? Master's programs are great ways for universities to make a lot of money off of people. Is there a way you can learn this information for free (or way cheaper than $20,000)? An MD alone is already a great authority with respectable knowledge about nutrition and health. I just don't understand why you think you need an online Master's degree in nutrition, it just seems like a waste of money because that degree is almost meaningless once you are an MD.

Consider this: Dr. Oz (whatever opinions people have of him do not matter here) gives okay advice and he has an MD and MBA. He is on the Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition without a Master's in Medical Nutrition. Just saying.

Please think about what your goals are, and how this degree can add to your education when in reality all it will be adding is $20,000 debt.
 
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BradyJV

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Not trying to give advice on this or anything, but athletic performance, health, and nutrition is something I am very passionate about. But I just want to share some thoughts.

Is this only a Master's or is this also a certification? Master's programs are great ways for universities to make a lot of money off of people. Is there a way you can learn this information for free (or way cheaper than $20,000)? An MD alone is already a great authority with respectable knowledge about nutrition and health. I just don't understand why you think you need an online Master's degree in nutrition, it just seems like a waste of money because that degree is almost meaningless once you are an MD.

Consider this: Dr. Oz (whatever opinions people have of him do not matter here) gives okay advice and he has an MD and MBA. He is on the Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition without a Master's in Medical Nutrition. Just saying.

Please think about what your goals are, and how this degree can add to your education when in reality all it will be adding is $20,000 debt.

Thanks for the reply! From the medical students and doctors I know, they talk about how there's not much of an emphasis on nutrition which is the biggest reason why I would consider it. Are you a medical student or know if the curriculum is at all based on nutrition in some parts? I'm sure there's so much to learn that it's just astronomical. I really just wanted it to have a sort of foundation in nutrition alongside medicine, but completely understand your thoughts. For perspective, I won't have any undergraduate debt, so that may change things. It's not that I'm jumping from $40k in debt to $60k, but more from debt-free to $20k for a diploma in EMS professions, associates degree in biology, undergraduate degree in biology, and a masters in nutrition. Seems a lot better when I put it this way, but $20k is also a hefty price if it wouldn't be very beneficial. I think I'm more attracted to the idea of having the masters, honestly, but not thinking from a necessity standpoint. I may hold off and only pull the trigger if I were offered a nice incentive in terms of scholarships or grants.
 

electropartyogram

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I am not a medical student but I am just trying to probe your rationale. I know that medical schools teach nutrition and related topics, there are even surgical specialties (vascular surgery) that advocate for lifestyle and nutritional adjustments well before surgery is needed. I am sure the curriculum varies by institution but medical school is about doing research, taking initiative, and self-learning.

In my opinion, the vast majority of information about nutrition, especially in medicine, can be learned for free. Examples: Surgical Recovery and Nutrition The nutritional management of surgical patients: enhanced recovery after surgery | Proceedings of the Nutrition Society | Cambridge Core Stroke Prevention https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.STR.0000223048.70103.F1

Nutrition is a very large topic and it is up to the physician to make those recommendations. Obtaining the Master's what will that do for you. Patients are more likely to see a dietician or nutritionist which is an entirely different thing. They are "certified". A Master's degree is merely a credential, not a license.

Like I said, I would reconsider your options, focus on your MCAT and application, and worry about learning nutrition more in-depth later on (or now but read and explore free (or cheap) resources. There are many well-written textbooks and published papers about this topic; many of them are free.
 

wanderingorion

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Are you a medical student or know if the curriculum is at all based on nutrition in some parts? I'm sure there's so much to learn that it's just astronomical. I really just wanted it to have a sort of foundation in nutrition alongside medicine, but completely understand your thoughts.
During my preclinical years, there were multiple lectures on nutrition, as part of my school's curriculum reform, and I'm sure it's a focus at other schools too. IMO you should save 20k and learn about it on your own. You should have no problem finding a research mentor and doing research in this field. Also, it sounds like have a pretty full plate of things to do during your gap year as it is, so it might be better to spend your time on doing well on the MCAT or getting clinical experience instead of going into debt and juggling everything.
 
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I don't think it will add to your application - - if anything, I would worry it would prevent you from being involved in something that could boost your app (i.e. research). I don't want to burst your bubble, but my undergrad degree was in nutrition and I promise you will not learn anything mind-blowing...I think you would be happiest and better off looking for research opportunities near you (though I know from experience nutrition research is not super easy to find)
 
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BradyJV

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I am not a medical student but I am just trying to probe your rationale. I know that medical schools teach nutrition and related topics, there are even surgical specialties (vascular surgery) that advocate for lifestyle and nutritional adjustments well before surgery is needed. I am sure the curriculum varies by institution but medical school is about doing research, taking initiative, and self-learning.

In my opinion, the vast majority of information about nutrition, especially in medicine, can be learned for free. Examples: Surgical Recovery and Nutrition The nutritional management of surgical patients: enhanced recovery after surgery | Proceedings of the Nutrition Society | Cambridge Core Stroke Prevention https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.STR.0000223048.70103.F1

Nutrition is a very large topic and it is up to the physician to make those recommendations. Obtaining the Master's what will that do for you. Patients are more likely to see a dietician or nutritionist which is an entirely different thing. They are "certified". A Master's degree is merely a credential, not a license.

Like I said, I would reconsider your options, focus on your MCAT and application, and worry about learning nutrition more in-depth later on (or now but read and explore free (or cheap) resources. There are many well-written textbooks and published papers about this topic; many of them are free.

Thanks again for the help! I wasn't trying to sound rude by asking if you were a med student, by the way. Just curious on if you had seen it while being a student is all. I hope it didn't come off that way.
 
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electropartyogram

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Thanks again for the help! I wasn't trying to sound rude by asking if you were a med student, by the way. Just curious on if you had seen it while being a student is all. I hope it didn't come off that way.

No it is okay, you were 100% correct in asking. I hope I did not come across as rude as well. Just trying to give you information. Good luck!
 
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BradyJV

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I don't think it will add to your application - - if anything, I would worry it would prevent you from being involved in something that could boost your app (i.e. research). I don't want to burst your bubble, but my undergrad degree was in nutrition and I promise you will not learn anything mind-blowing...I think you would be happiest and better off looking for research opportunities near you (though I know from experience nutrition research is not super easy to find)

Thanks for the reply! I'm attending an extremely small school. In my upper-level biology classes, we've had like 9 people per class. I'm in a research class that has 4 students, including me. It's a small state school and not as easy to find research in comparison to a research university, so I'm trying to make the best with what I have. I'm thinking I'll just be another Biology major with nothing special otherwise. Even if I do well on the MCAT and have a high GPA, there's plenty of other applicants with similar stats and bio majors. I felt like taking a gap year to continue working in EMS will give me a couple hundred more hours and patient contacts, more shadowing hours, etc. Realistically, I could go without a gap year and apply with some already decent stats in those regards, but trying to do my best to get into the best program possible. It would be nice to get into a top 20, but I would just be another bio major with one research project, even if I get an awesome GPA and MCAT. Also, I appreciate you commenting since you're a nutrition major. I know some of the nutritional sciences are pretty embarrassing in some aspects, especially in relation to how some previous studies have been conducted, but I also understand it's extremely hard to perform studies in the field. I guess I have the mindset that a masters would've helped me better understand some things but the biochemistry of how things break down in our system may be enough for comfort. In the end, I feel like most nutrition is so dependant on the individual and there's no black and white path, which complicates a lot and makes it where it's hard to learn what's best for individuals.
 

thespitfire

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Hey - send me a PM. I am very interested in the same things and think we should get in touch!
 
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Goro

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Hello, everyone. Long story short - My grades, LOR's, extracurriculars, etc should be decently competitive for medical school and wouldn't use this masters in a way to try to "boost" my application. I decided to pursue medicine after dietary and lifestyle changes that helped me tremendously. I'm graduating with an undergraduate degree in biology and considering a master's in nutrition with an emphasis on clinical/medical nutrition during my gap year. Why? I want to pursue research in the future in nutritional sciences (among others - I would be interested in almost any research and yes, I know I can do research without the degree), I'm very convinced of the relationship between nutritional consumption and disease, I like the idea of preventative medicine and getting to the route of diseases, and I'd like to write books in the future on the topic among other goals.

From Arizona State University's online Master of Science in Medical Nutrition page: "Although 94% of physicians believe nutrition counseling should be a standard component of primary care, only 14% feel qualified to provide it."

There are 4-5 online nutrition (non-thesis) master degrees that I believe will help with my future goals. I'm planning a gap year anyways to get extra clinical experience and patient contact, shadowing hours, additional volunteer work, and prepare to get the highest score possible on the MCAT. The cost of the degree will range from $17k - $23k. I feel like this would be justified given my goals, but I'm looking for the thoughts of those wiser than myself.

Quick recap: ~ $20k for masters in nutrition degree. Online, non-thesis. One year program that I can finish during my planned gap year anyways. Reputable universities to choose from - Arizona State, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, etc. (The most prestigous universities? No, but still nice to me - someone graduating from a college with only 9 other students in my class.)
This will NOT make you a ore competitive candidate
 
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LizzyM

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Doctors get very little nutrition education in medical school. This has been an issue for at least 40 years.. maybe more. You might get a little bit in fetal development, cardiology, endocrine/diabetes but, for the most part, it is not emphasized.

Most clinicians will not take a huge amount of time to address a patient's dietary intake and provide comprehensive counseling. The reimbursement doesn't favor this approach. In the best case scenario, a physician will recognize the need and make a referral to a dietitian/nutritionist.

Someone who wants to be a dietitian/nutritionist may want to take the time and spend the money to get the MS degree but it really isn't going to be very useful to a physcian unless it makes you more aware of the need to refer for services you aren't being paid to provide yourself as a physician and do you need to spend thousands of dollars to come to that awareness?
 
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