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ETSU professor, grad student author article on COVID-19 and nutrition

Study examines impact on residents of long-term care facilities

JOHNSON CITY – An East Tennessee State University professor and graduate student have co-authored an article addressing the ways in which COVID-19 has changed the practice of nutrition.
The article titled “COVID & Nutrition: How the Pandemic has Changed Practice” was co-authored by Dr. Michelle Johnson, associate professor and director of the Dietetic Internship Program in ETSU’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, and Julia Barroso, a graduate student and dietetic intern in the ETSU’s clinical nutrition graduate program. Their article appears in the September/October 2021 issue of Today’s Geriatric Medicine, a national publication providing news and insight for professionals in elder care.
In their article, Johnson and Barroso explored the implications of COVID-19 in the field of nutrition, specifically among adults residing in long-term care, assisted living and post-acute care facilities. Their study identifies and summarizes COVID-19-related effects on nutrition practice in these settings and recognizes general trends in nutrition practice that emerged and would be beneficial to encourage in the future.
“I feel it is important to shine a spotlight on the role of nutrition professionals in these settings, who despite incredible personal and professional stress, have continued to voluntarily serve our students as clinical preceptors, demonstrating the value of advancing practice, as we continue to learn more about the impact of COVID-19,” said Johnson. “This population is particularly vulnerable to experiencing malnutrition, and registered dietitians and other nutrition professionals play important roles in identifying opportunities to overcome barriers inevitable during the pandemic this first year.”   
The article delves into nutrition intake and weight loss among long-term care residents, tips for encouraging and increasing hydration, and the ways in which large-scale food systems challenges during COVID affected health care facilities and their budgets.
“Working with Dr. Johnson on this article was an amazing opportunity,” said Barroso. “I learned so much along the way, and Dr. Johnson is an excellent leader at guiding my thoughts and ideas and making them come to life. She has been such an inspiring mentor to work with and I look forward to working with her more in the future.”
ETSU offers several undergraduate and graduate programs in nutrition and dietetics, which provide research and internship opportunities to prepare students for careers in nutrition.
Students work with community institutions and organizations such as Little Bucs, Crumley House, Second Harvest Food Bank, and One Acre Café to develop healthy menus and recipes to improve nutrition. Students also complete 1,000 hours of supervised practice in dietetic internships at area hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, health departments and other settings.
To learn more about the programs, visit etsu.edu/crhs/rehabilitative-sciences/nutrition/default.php.