When Laurie Van Wyckhouse decided to get an advanced degree, she lived in a town 90 minutes from the nearest university. “Nova brought the classes to me; allowing me to continue working full-time while advancing my education.”
During her research practicum at Nova and through the encouragement of her professors, Van Wyckhouse (M.S. ’93) discovered a hidden talent. “Having writing skills was news to me! I later put that belief in my skills to use by developing the first online Diabetes Self-Management Training program.”
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 25.8 million Americans have diabetes. The American Association of Diabetes Educators estimates that as few as one-percent learn how to handle their condition. A dietitian who has taught diabetes self-management for 35 years, Van Wyckhouse knows the frustrations faced by diabetics.
“In the traditional setting, there are a lot of barriers that prevent patients from learning what they need to know. Lecture style classes, inconvenient hours, and ‘information overload’ conspire against real change. I've watched patients zone out. They have to learn how to lose weight, control their blood pressure, and monitor their glucose-it’s overwhelming.”
When Laurie Van Wyckhouse launched NutriTutor®, no one was more surprised than she. “Truly, I’ve never been interested in business-it’s not who I am; I’m a clinician. When the idea hit me, I literally jumped out of bed and wrote nonstop.” NutriTutor® content was developed by clinicians and follows the guidelines of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. It also meets the requirements for a "patient-centered medical home" for chronic disease.
The NutriTutor® diabetes course lasts six months so people can learn at their own pace. The online interactive program, customized for each patient, emphasizes the development of technical and problem-solving skills. “After members gain knowledge, they practice what they’ve learned. When they get stuck, they ask their clinician for help."
NutriTutor® makes it easy for companies, government agencies, and physician practices to offer diabetes training from their own websites. “We’re bringing medical education into the 21stcentury-cutting costs and improving quality." Van Wyckhouse views NutriTutor® as a future resource for all chronic diseases, including heart disease, congestive heart failure, obesity, gestational diabetes, and hypertension.
Van Wyckhouse states: “Nova set me up to succeed. My professors taught me that reaching higher would likely result in success. They were right!” She advises current students: “if you view your education as a rote means of becoming well-read and able to regurgitate facts, you are merely doing a poor impersonation of a computer. Rather, use your critical thinking skills to synthesize what you learn, run patterns through a filter of good judgment, and employ the resulting insights to solve problems."
To learn more, download free content, and contact Van Wyckhouse, visit nutritutor.com.