Nutrition and dietetics student receives award for excelling in internship with VA

Contact: Chris Hybels

Derek Fischer

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Derek Fischer, a student in Western Michigan University's nutrition and dietetics  internship program, has received one of the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Outstanding Dietetics Student Awards. He was honored at the organization's annual conference for demonstrating academic achievement, leadership and professional potential during his dietetic internship at the Battle Creek Veterans Affair Medical Center.


"I was both surprised and grateful," says Fischer. "I was surprised because there are a lot of great dietetics interns out there who also deserve the award. And I was grateful to my amazing dietetic internship director who was kind enough to nominate me for the award and to my professors and preceptors who instilled the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in my dietetics internship."


Currently finishing his internship at the Battle Creek Veterans Affair Medical Center, Fischer has been working with patients in the long-term care unit. As part of the internship, he provides excellent care to veterans using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition Care Process, follows evidence-based guidelines and conducts nutrition-focused physical exams. After completing his internship, he will be doing a unique enrichment rotation at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City, Michigan. There he will be involved with the garden's programming to encourage healthy and sustainable diets.

Derek Fischer, center, received his Outstanding Student Award at the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' annual conference.

"Derek has excelled in his internship rotations with many of his preceptors providing him with outstanding remarks, noting his high levels of maturity and professionalism," says Meghan Wilkinson, faculty specialist II of nutrition and dietetics. "In my many years of experience working with students and interns, Derek is one of the brightest students I have ever had the privilege of working with."

Before joining the internship program, Fischer graduated from Western's nutrition and dietetics bachelor's degree program. Graduating in 2023, he was named a Presidential Scholar; the designation is the highest academic honor that Western can bestow on its undergraduates. Fischer was also heavily involved in the Student Dietetic Association, hosting cooking classes at the Kalamazoo Food Co-op and teaching healthy eating habits to high schoolers in the West Michigan Health Career Pipeline Program.

"The WMU nutrition and dietetics bachelor's degree program was instrumental in preparing me for the dietetics internship. The courses and labs ranging from medical nutrition therapy to food service management gave me the knowledge and skills required to complete the projects and competencies associated with the internship. Throughout the WMU undergraduate program, faculty emphasize information and assign work that directly translates to skills needed to be successful in the dietetics internship. I have no doubt that Western was the best choice I could have made to prepare for the dietetics internship and for a career as a future registered dietitian," adds Fischer.

ABOUT WMU'S Nutrition and dietetics INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

WMU's nutrition and dietetics internship is a post-baccalaureate program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. During the program, interns will complete a series of experiences that will enable them to enter the work force with at least entry-level competence in dietetics. The dietetic internship provides well-rounded supervised practice experiences in clinical and long-term care, community nutrition, food service management, wellness, and school food/nutrition. Upon completion of the program, graduates are eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration's credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. To learn more, visit the nutrition and dietetics internship webpage.

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