Sandy Gebhart, student in Saybrook’s inaugural class in nutrition, describes her use of integrative and functional nutrition in clinical practice

By Saybrook University

Sandy Gebhart, Student in Saybrook’s Inaugural Class in Nutrition

Sandy Gebhart is 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.

There is something special and unique about being an inaugural cohort. A roller coaster of emotions surrounded us all as we started this amazing Master’s of Science program in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. We were intrigued and excited about the unknown, and driven by the passion for food and nutrition and the foundations for building a healthy, vibrant life. Now that we have all settled in, deep into our second semester, we have adapted and progressed personally and professionally. I wanted to check in with the amazing women that I’m share this journey with to see what brought them to Saybrook, what motivated them, and what is in store for them after this Saybrook journey.

This blog entry reports on an interview with Sandy Gebhart. Sandy is working as a registered dietitian and health coach for a company called Total Nutrition Technology, Inc., in Charlotte, North Carolina. She learns more each day with each client she encounters about the biological individuality of each client and each client’s unique biochemistry. She has already incorporated some of the integrative nutrition techniques learned in her Saybrook courses, coaching clients through specific diets and using mind-body techniques that are helping her clients reach their health and wellness goals.

Sandy found her passion and interest for nutrition during her dietetic internship with Mary Beth Augustine. (Mary Beth Augustine also served as the founding director of Saybrook’s nutrition program). Through that experience she was able to develop a foundational understanding of integrative health. Mary Beth mentored Sandy to never stop learning and acquiring knowledge.  This ever-changing field of integrative health/nutrition allows endless opportunities for nutrition professionals to keep learning and growing.

Here are Sandy Gebhart’s responses to a series of interview questions:

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

When I was an undergraduate I had the privilege of working as an intern under Mary Beth Augustine. Through her guidance and teachings my mind became consumed with the knowledge of integrative nutrition. When I came to understand that there were more than just conventional dietary treatments available, I knew that I had to learn more.

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

Saybrook is unique, because the university prides itself in facilitating full communication between professors and students. Through the use of video conferences students are able to engage in conversations with peers and instructors.

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

I think that the most important attributes of an integrative nutritionist is that she or he recognizes that one diet does not fit all. Taking time to assess and evaluate each unique individual is a crucial component of an integrative nutritionist.

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

My approach towards patient care is that each individual has a unique genetic and environmental make-up.

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

The residential conference allowed me to practice mind-body approaches that I had never tried before. Meditation and deep breathing are two mind-body approaches that I am currently practicing myself and which I am currently recommending to my clients.

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

I have learned a great deal of information every week, since I enrolled in the program. My approach is to keep an open mind and use my knowledge to further serve my clients.

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

In the current model of health care, symptoms of a disease are treated and the disease itself is often times not addressed. The integrative nutrition model addresses the root causes of a disease and is able to reverse the symptoms through multiple treatment strategies.

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

My professional goal is to pursue a career as a health coach. I believe that my education at Saybrook will further educate me to be able to serve my clients in the most effective way I can.