About Colleen McCrief
Colleen McCrief chose a career in nutrition when she was 18 years old. The field, she says, appealed to her enthusiasm for healthy living and the interest in food science she developed as she baked alongside her mother and grandmother.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science at Russell Sage College, she was accepted by the very competitive dietetic internship program at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the Texas Medical Center and subsequently hired at the center (The Texas Medical Center is classified as a medical city, and is the largest medical city in the world.)
Professor McCrief spent six years as a clinical dietitian for the medical center’s liver transplant team and oncology and general medicine units.
Even as she worked at the forefront of the most advanced life sciences at the center, she says she remained inspired by the Nutrition Science professors she had at Sage. “I looked up to them and wanted to become an educator and leader like they were.”
In 2013, Professor McCrief returned to Sage to become an assistant professor and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics.
Today, she teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in nutrition counseling, food service management and medical nutrition therapy — and while she enjoys them all, the medical nutrition therapy course series stands out.
Medical nutrition therapy refers to the individually tailored nutrition plans dietitians develop to help treat certain health conditions, she explains, and the classes address the kind of questions Nutrition Science students receive from family and friends, like “What should I eat to treat this?” or “I have this, can I still eat that?”
“As students progress through their MNT courses, they find they are better able to answer these questions — and it is really exciting for them,” says Professor McCrief.
She also gets to witness this kind of growth up close, as she works individually with students preparing for their next step.
For undergraduate Nutrition Science students, the next step is a dietetic internship or supervised practice. While the national average acceptance rate to dietetic internship programs hovers around 60%, Sage’s three-year rolling average acceptance rate is 100%. That’s in large part due to support from faculty like Professor McCrief.
“I help students from start to finish,” she says. “I offer multiple workshops annually, write recommendation letters and meet one-on-one to review extensive internship applications.
Ultimately helping them land their dream dietetic internship program or job is a huge highlight.”
She’s excited about what the future holds for her students, and for the field.
“In 2024, it will be required that all Registered Dietitians obtain a master’s degree prior to taking the credentialing exam. This will likely create some exciting changes for our program in the future.”
To be ready, Professor McCrief stays up to date and connected in the wider nutrition community. She’s on the Hudson Valley Dietetic Association’s leadership team and edits the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ newsletter for educators and preceptors.
She is eager to connect with future Russell Sage College Nutrition Science students, too.
“I go into middle and high schools to help educate students about the field of nutrition,” she says. “I want to ensure students are exposed to the field before making important decisions about their career path and education.”
Recent Courses Taught
NTR 517/417: Medical Nutrition Therapy II
NTR 525: Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy
NTR 507/407: Nutrition Counseling
SCI 120: Introduction to Nutrition Science
“I help students from start to finish. I offer multiple workshops annually, write recommendation letters and meet one-on-one to review extensive internship applications.