Starting in April, Classes for the Nutrition Counseling Cornell Certificate Program will be taught by Prof. Beth McKinney, nutritional sciences, who is the director of Cornell Wellness. The program was designed to be client-focused.

Linbo Fan / Sun Staff Photographer

Starting in April, Classes for the Nutrition Counseling Cornell Certificate Program will be taught by Prof. Beth McKinney, nutritional sciences, who is the director of Cornell Wellness. The program was designed to be client-focused.

March 20, 2018

New eCornell Nutrition Counseling Program Will Focus on Developing Positive Client Relationships

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With the new availability of an eCornell certificate program, registered dietitian nutritionists will have the ability to sharpen their counseling skills to make positive client relationships.

Classes for the Nutrition Counseling Cornell Certificate Program will start in April and will be taught by Prof. Beth McKinney, nutritional sciences, who is the director of Cornell Wellness. The purpose of the program is to allow RDNs to practice counseling and improve their ability to communicate with clients, according to the eCornell Nutrition Counseling Certificate Program site.

McKinney said a RDN’s job “is to teach healthy eating [and] promote positive behavior change.” They are already well versed in healthy habits and diets, according to McKinney.

Unlike other nutrition classes, this program concentrates on the dietitian-client relationship. McKinney said that the program teaches “the actual skills to engage with a client and to elicit the client’s best thinking.”

“I’m not teaching what to say,” she said. “I’m teaching how to say it.”

The program is comprised of four different two-week courses that are three to five hours per week, so it lasts two months. McKinney said the first course, titled “Understanding the Person,” “starts with building trust and rapport … so it teaches practitioners how to let the client lead the conversation.” She said the second course, “Understanding the Problem,” wants to teach practitioners how to “[understand] the problem from the client’s point of view.”

Then, in “Eliciting New Behaviors,” RDNs learn the best way to help their clients set realistic, life-changing goals. The final course, “Blending the Art of Counseling with the Science of Nutrition,” teaches them how to “provide nutrition information in the way people can hear it,” McKinney said.

Upon completion of all four courses, students will not only earn 2.4 Professional Continuing Education Units from Cornell’s Division of Nutritional Sciences, but also become better counselors, according to the eCornell Nutrition Counseling Certificate Program site.

“My hope is that [the RDNs’s] entire counseling practice will be vastly different than before they took the class,” McKinney said.

The Nutrition Counseling Program is part of Expanding Nutrition Frontiers, “an eCornell web channel developed in collaboration with Cornell’s Division of Nutritional Sciences,” according to McKinney. ENF is a program in which Cornell faculty teach about nutrition in WebCasts, so the new program on nutrition counseling will be entirely online.

McKinney said she “relied on [eCornell’s] methodology with my expertise” to create an experience that allows for feedback from professors and classmates through an online platform.

“E-learning classes” are “the wave of the future,” she said, and they provide RDNs from all over the world with the opportunity to participate.