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Meet a Master of Clinical Nutrition Student: Lauren Bays

Date: Monday, April 17, 2023

Kansas City, Missouri 

Graduating: May 2023 

Undergraduate institution and major(s):  
Missouri State University, Bachelor of Science in Dietetics 

What initially got you interested in a career in health care?  
Both of my parents work in the health care field. My mom is a nurse, and my dad is a paramedic and firefighter. Growing up, I valued the time and effort they put into assisting others.  

What made you want to become a dietitian?  
During my undergraduate studies, I didn't always know I wanted to become a dietitian, but after taking a required nutrition course, I fell in love with how much nutrition has an impact on one's health. I shadowed a clinical dietitian in a Kansas City hospital, and that solidified my decision to become a registered dietitian.  

Lauren Bays stands in front of a desert canyon. She is dressed for hiking and wearing sunglasses.

Who is your mentor?

Nicole Paulsen was my preceptor in internal medicine. Nicole has been especially impactful in my learning experience. She has high expectations but provides support and pushes you to be better. She makes you critically think about your interventions. Despite her busy schedule, she makes mentoring a priority. Once I presented clinical rounds, and although it wasn’t required, she attended in person for support. Because of her mentoring skills, I am confident and prepared to start my career as a clinical dietitian. 

What extra-curricular activities have most shaped your experience here?

The Master of Clinical Nutrition program did not have a social media presence when I entered the program. I volunteered to develop the first Instagram account to connect with future, current, and past students. The experience has been very rewarding. I have been able to interact more closely with my classmates and community members. Recently we featured some of the management and clinical preceptors for National Registered Dietician Nutritionist Preceptor Month. It was a great way to honor some of the amazing dietetic preceptors we have at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. 

What are your plans after graduation?

My plan is to move back to Kansas City and work as a clinical dietitian. What excites me the most is that I can share the extensive knowledge that I have obtained from the University of Iowa about diverse nutrition-related topics with future dietetic students.

If you could bust one myth or misconception about nutrition for good, what would it be?

The myth that I'd bust about nutrition would be that "carbs are bad." Carbohydrates are our bodies’ main energy source, and we need them to keep us going throughout the day! When carbohydrates are excluded from the diet, key nutrients are being missed. (Example: B vitamins and fiber.) Low-carb diets are fad diets, and though some people do lose weight, it is not sustainable or ideal. It also takes the enjoyment away from eating! Another thing dietetic students hear a lot is that fruit is bad due to the perceived high carb or sugar content. The sugar content in fruits is different from the refined sugars people commonly think of. Fruits do have carbs in them, but again, we need carbs for energy!