College Class Review: Medical Nutrition Therapy

x-ray of hand doing ok sign

Happy Tuesday! I just made it through my first full week of the spring semester and it was pretty nice! I’m still trying to figure out a routine now that I’m back at school, but I like my schedule and my classes. One of the most important classes I’m taking this semester is Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) II, a continuation of the MNT I class that I took last semester. Since these two classes are an essential part of your undergrad education, I wanted to share why exactly this class is important, what it’s about, and what I wish I had known before I started.

Why Medical Nutrition Therapy?

You might know what I call Medical Nutrition Therapy as simply Nutrition Therapy, Nutrition Care and Therapy, or something similar. But whatever you call it, it’s going to be a very important class for you. Why is that? It’s the one course that takes all the information from every medical or science class you’ve ever taken and gives you a way to apply what you learned! It’s payoff for every A&P, microbiology, or pathophysiology test you passed. Basically MNT is a stepping stone between what you learn in college and what you do in your internship.

What Does MNT Cover?

Short answer: a lot! You’ll be busy in this class for sure.

For real though, Medical Nutrition Therapy covers a lot of ground, but it’s all very useful things that you’ll use throughout your career! Here’s a quick list of some topics we covered:

  • Lab values for fluid and calorie needs
  • The Nutrition Care Process (NCP for short)
  • Enteral and parenteral nutrition
  • What dietitians need to know for certain disease states

and so much more! In order to succeed in MNT, you’ll need to understand basic math for certain calculations (aka math) and be able to think logically.

We also did a few case studies, which can be tricky if you haven’t done one before. If you like to find the one right answer, you’ll have to learn to trust yourself because with case studies there is no one right answer. There might be a right direction, but it’s up to you to take what you know, explain it well, and justify why you chose it. But case studies aren’t all bad. They also give you a chance to practice like a dietitian without your answer affecting a real patient or client!

What Should You Know Before You Start?

Start learning lab values and equations!

There’s no easy way around it: you have to memorize some things to do well in this class and in your future. Whether it’s BMI, an energy needs calculation, or the steps to create a parenteral formula, MNT has lots of very important information. (Don’t believe me? Read my interview with Lamar University Dietetic Internship Director, Jill Killough).

Don’t Forget Pathophysiology

If you took patho, a lot of what you learned then will return in this course. Just like Pathophysiology takes what you learned from A&P and explains what can go wrong, MNT takes what you learned from patho and shows what a dietitian can do to improve it. Because of that, it will be easier if you review or re-familiarize yourself with some of the disease states and conditions as you go through MNT.

Connect the Dots

Medical Nutrition Therapy will be a lot easier if you study actively. Just because some things need to be memorized, doesn’t mean everything should be just memorized.

Let me explain with a quick example. Our class met once a week for a three-hour lecture (we love night classes 🙂 ). Because of the huge amount of material we covered, my professor gave us the PowerPoint slides before the lecture. I noticed that I learned the material the best when I took the time to skim the notes beforehand, highlight important points during the lecture, and review what I marked after I wasn’t always consistent about it, because life is busy, but I knew what I had to do to better understand the material. My point is, you have to be actively engaged in this class to succeed. That might look a little different for you and that’s cool! Just make sure whatever time you spend studying for MNT is quality time. (If you’re not sure where to start, I have some great study tips here). Going along with that…

Work out problems and follow examples

At least for my class, formulas were a big part of the equation (pardon the pun, lol). My professor spent so many weeks making sure we understood how to calculate tube feedings because this will be important if you’re a clinical dietitian! One thing she encouraged us to do is actively study by reviewing practice problems. The steps and examples we wrote down in class really helped later both for reference and for practice before tests.

That’s it for this week! As always if you have any questions or study tips, feel free to reach out/share 🙂

Until next time,
Emmalee

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