To meet changing workforce needs, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a slate of flexible degree and certificate programs for busy professionals looking for a convenient way to continue their education. Lynette Karls played a key role in these innovations for the Department of Nutritional Sciences, helping nontraditional students earn credentials to boost their careers. Karls will retire this winter with two successful certificate programs up and running and an online master’s program set to launch in the fall.
Thanks to Karls’ efforts, Nutritional Sciences became the first department in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to establish online programs for UW-Madison’s array of flexible offerings, promoted through the Advance Your Career web portal. The Online Capstone Certificate in Clinical Nutrition and the UW Health Dietetic Internship Certificate were among the first of their kind in the country, allowing students to efficiently obtain a graduate-level education.
The 18-credit UW Health Dietetic Internship Certificate involves four online classes and a two-semester practicum on campus. The 12-credit Online Capstone Certificate in Clinical Nutrition addresses the educational needs of students who have been unable to secure an internship—an acknowledged bottleneck in the profession. Students in the online capstone can begin any semester (fall, spring, or summer) and take the courses in any order over three semesters.
“By developing these certificate programs, one with an internship and another focused on classwork, Lynette created more flexibility and options for nutrition professionals seeking additional education,” says David J. Eide, chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences.
Karls designed the two certificate programs to work in tandem with the new Online Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition. The certificates’ credits will transfer seamlessly into the master’s program for those who want a more advanced credential. Such a sequence constitutes “stackable credentials”—the first ones strategically planned at UW-Madison.
Ahead of the curve
Karls helped position the university to meet the growing demand for well-trained nutrition professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of dietitians will increase 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, more than double the growth in demand for most occupations. And the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development predicts a nearly 11 percent increase in dietitian and nutritionist jobs by 2022.
“An advanced degree is increasingly important for dietitians competing for internships and jobs,” says Eide. “And because a master’s degree will be required for licensure starting in 2024, Lynette’s work in creating the Online Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition has put UW-Madison ahead of the curve.”
Karls has spent 35 years in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, contributing significantly to its success.
“As an instructor and advisor for our undergraduates, Lynette always provided our students with first-rate education and advice,” says Eide. “As coordinator of our Didactic Program in Dietetics, she helped us grow this outstanding degree program to its current level of excellence. And as a colleague and citizen of the department, she has always been there to help whenever and wherever it was needed. We will miss her greatly.”