Saybrook nutrition student on Integrative and Functional Nutrition in clinical practice

By Saybrook University


Brianne Morwood - student of Saybrook’s Integrative and Functional Nutrition Program

Brianne Morwood, RD, CD, LDN, is  a dietitian and a student in the first cohort of Saybrook’s new Master’s of Science Program in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. Another student in this cohort, Karmen Gregg, is interviewing the cohort members and creating blog postings about each.  Here are Brianne’s responses to a series of interview questions.

What motivated you to pursue integrative nutrition versus conventional dietary treatments alone?

Conventional treatments often have a limited and superficial effect on health, while an integrative approach can identify the underlying cause of disease, thereby providing a lasting treatment and cure. The challenge of this aspect of nutrition was both inspiring and motivating as I begin my career as a dietitian.

If you had to choose one attribute that is unique to Saybrook University and your education experience, what would it be? Why?

Although Saybrook provides education through an online, distance format, the amount of support provided by professors, staff, and peers is exceptional. The residential conference allowed peers to interact and bond before beginning the program, and this friendship has continued throughout each term.

What do you think are the most important attributes and competencies for integrative nutritionists?

An integrative nutritionist should always be familiar with the latest research, as health and nutrition are continually changing. Additionally, one working in this field must be able to compile a list of effective treatment options and work with patients to determine which would be most appropriate for their situation. Thorough education and close monitoring are essential, as the patient’s primary care provider may not be familiar with interactions between dietary supplements and medications, and may not recognize the patient’s reactions to integrative treatments.

As an integrative nutritionist or dietician, what is your approach toward patient care?

As an integrative dietitian, my approach to care is individualized to the specific needs of my patients. Each patient has a unique past medical history and symptomatology, and thus each must be provided with a unique treatment plan.

How influential was the residential conference on your personal and professional growth? Describe any mind-­body approaches that you have adapted as a self-­care strategy, as well as incorporated into patient care plans to enhance well-being.

The residential conference provided an excellent foundation in mind­-body approaches to self care for both my personal life and my practice. My eyes were opened to the variety of mind-­body approaches available, and I briefly learned how to perform each, which improved my confidence in applying the techniques to my future practice. Currently I am working more to incorporate meditation into my daily routine, which will prove quite beneficial while enrolled in a demanding master’s program and working full time. The residential conference also promoted development of friendships with my peers, which has led to invaluable relationships throughout the program.

Since you enrolled in the program, how are you applying this knowledge into your personal and professional life?

Since enrolled in the program, I have been working to apply my knowledge of laboratory values and supplements to my assessment of patients. Recently, I have been working to incorporate aspects of the Nutrition-Focused Physical Exam, and I am seeking hands on training in the near future. As for my personal life, I have continued to incorporate mindful eating into my daily routine, and this has proven quite effective.

How do you envision the emerging field of integrative medicine and nutrition within the current medical model?

I envision that integrative medicine and nutrition will become an essential component of the current medical model. Conventional treatments often do not cure the underlying cause of disease, and patients are becoming quite frustrated with the lack of improvement in their health, causing them to turn to a more integrative approach. Additionally, with the changes in reimbursement, health systems may be looking for ways to decrease cost and increase outcomes, which integrative medicine and nutrition can provide.

What is your professional goal, or what career do you hope to pursue after graduation?

My dream is to open a wellness center that incorporates a variety of approaches to achieving and maintaining health. From meditation and massage therapy to fitness, nutrition, chiropractic care, and naturopathic medicine, this center will promote health and wellness by treating the underlying causes of dysfunction and disease.