Spotlight on the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition

By News Staff

Greetings from the Dietetic Internship in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. News of our faculty: Program director Courtney Fose, M.S., RD, LD, CNSC, FAND, was recently recognized as a Fellow in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

Reza Hakkak, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition

Reza Hakkak, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition

Instructor Lesley Jones, M.S., RD, LD, is currently serving her second year on the Board of the Arkansas Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition as the secretary/treasurer. The program is jointly sponsored by the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, and Instructor Katie Inebnit, M.S., RD, LD, CNSC, was promoted to co-director in the summer of 2020. Katie is an alumnus of both the Dietetic Internship and the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition programs, and is a wonderful addition to our faculty.

The program is currently reviewing applications for enrollment in our 50th cohort of Dietetic Interns in Fall 2021. Our program participates in the national Dietetic Internship Match, and will celebrate Appointment Day on Tuesday, April 6. Our current cohort of 14 students will graduate in May and has overcome many challenges as students during a worldwide pandemic. Wearing masks and practicing social distancing has allowed the program to continue some face-to-face class meetings. When necessary, we pivot to synchronous distance learning utilizing Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. The pandemic pushed the program further into the future as faculty worked to creatively adapt in-person activities into virtual ones using forms of technology that were new to the program.

In February, the program hosted its first Virtual Mock Interview professional skills session using Zoom. Program alumni and other preceptors from across the state volunteered in panels to interview students and also in one-to-one formats. Interviewers completed evaluations using Trajecsys Reporting System to provide written feedback in addition to verbal feedback immediately following the interview. Looking forward, the program plans to change from a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program to a Graduate Degree program in 2022 with the first cohort graduating in August 2023.

Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition:

After almost 30 years of existence, the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition (MSCN) graduate program successfully completed (academic year 2019-2020) another round of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education program review as required to maintain program accreditation.

Guided by Kristen Sterba, associate provost for Students and Administration, Josh Phelps, associate professor and director of the MSCN program, submitted a request for 100% online program status during the fall of 2020. Starting in the fall semester of 2021, the MSCN program will be classified as a 100% online program. While our program was almost entirely online to facilitate learning for a student body working full-time, the 100% online status establishes a flat-rate tuition for all students regardless of their state of residency and reduces the amount charged for student fees. We are excited about the 100% online status and look forward to recruiting students from around the country.

Our MSCN graduate students continue to present their non-thesis and thesis projects at national meetings, including the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) and the American Society for Nutrition annual meetings. Juanita Montelongo, M.S. RDN LD won the Outstanding Abstract Award at the 2019 FNCE meeting (the last in-person FNCE meeting since COVID-19).

Christi Arthur, M.S. RD CNSC CSP LD, instructor and advisor for the MSCN program, continues to serve as a preceptor at the 12th Street HWC, where she works with dietetic interns, and a variety of interprofessional students to facilitate delivery of high quality nutrition-related care. Christi recently published her first manuscript (Examining weight gain: A retrospective study on preterm newborn growth on a diet exclusively of fortified donor breast milk) in the International Journal of Functional Nutrition.

The Department of Dietetics and Nutrition continues to sponsor a monthly seminar series (the second Thursday of every month over the last 20 years). The most recent seminars are archived and available at:


Reza Hakkak, Ph.D., has been at UAMS for 33 years, and has served as department chair for the past 23 years. During this time, he has consistently maintained a stream of external funding for various research projects.