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COEHD establishes partnership with local senior center

by Jo Ann Jones, COEHD    |    May 22, 2017

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More than 15 students from the UTSA Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD) provided free nutritional assessments for senior citizens at San Antonio OASIS, a local non-profit for seniors. The assessments were part of the program’s Nutrition and Health Assessment class.


“The people at OASIS were extraordinarily nice,” said Austin Lobitz, junior dietetics student. “I could tell how interested they were in the information we were providing them and they were also very patient with us. For most of the students, this was a completely new experience assessing a stranger, but the participants made it a great learning opportunity.”


Each of the dietetics students were partnered up with a member of San Antonio OASIS. The students conducted in-depth interviews with the seniors on their food intake, medical history, and lifestyle.


“At first, I was a little intimidated since I had never performed any real nutritional assessments aside from the practice ones I had done in my classes,” said Alex Irizarry, junior dietetics student. “After arriving to the center and seeing all the participants, I felt relieved because they were very inviting and kind.”


The students also took several body measurements to provide a more complete nutritional assessment, including height, weight, waist, and skinfold measurements.


“Practicing these techniques is important and can help detect muscle wasting, fat loss, and risk for disease for individuals; in this case, for the elderly,” said Rosalynda Rodea, junior dietetics student. “Repetition on taking measurements will help with accuracy and confidence, and interacting with individuals helps build the people skills needed for this field.”


The nutritional assessments were part of a recently established partnership between the CPD program and San Antonio OASIS. This partnership will help provide practical learning opportunities for UTSA students.


“This partnership gives the UTSA dietetic interns the ability to gain hands-on experience performing nutrition assessments and to work on their patient interaction skills,” said Rebecca Portales, lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition. “I hope that these experiences allow the interns to gain confidence in their ability to translate what they have learned in the classroom to working with individuals in real-world situations.”


San Antonio OASIS is the local site affiliate of OASIS, a non-profit educational organization that promotes learning, volunteer engagement, and active lifestyles for individuals over the age of 50.


“This partnership with UTSA students enhances OASIS’ rich history and mission of intergenerational programming and community engagement,” added Tracy Zerkle, associate director of San Antonio OASIS. “It has been a wonderful experience for the staff, volunteers, and participants at OASIS to work with the faculty and students at UTSA. This first experience has opened the door for several more opportunities in the summer and fall to continue to work together to educate older adult community members and students.”


The CPD program also has a research partnership with San Antonio OASIS. Currently, San Antonio OASIS members are offered participation in a research study on protein supplements for older adults.


“Trained UTSA nutrition students will screen seniors for the study,” said Dr. Sarah Ullevig, assistant professor and study principal investigator. Ullevig will also provide classes on dietary supplement safety to San Antonio OASIS members.


This partnership, Ullevig said, is one that the CPD program hopes will last for many years.


“I hope the students are able to learn, not only about the nutrition needs of older adults and gain human research skills, but also to appreciate and respect the older adult population and to acknowledge the pressing needs that population faces,” said Ullevig.


Learn more about the Coordinated Program in Dietetics.


Learn more about San Antonio OASIS.



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