Denise Pickett-Bernard, PhD, RDN, IFMCP, IFNCP, has been appointed as the Functional Nutrition Certificate director at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP). In addition to leading the certificate program, Pickett-Bernard will also serve as the Concentration Track Director for the Functional Nutritional track of the Master of Science in Health Science (MSHS) program. With experience as a clinician, educator, and even a chef, Pickett-Bernard has the background to lead students to success as functional nutrition specialists.
Pickett-Bernard attributes much of her success to her educational background. She attended the Culinary Institute of America, after which she worked as a chef while earning a Bachelor of Science in Food Service Management. After working for a while, Pickett-Bernard decided to get her Masters of Science degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition.
She explained that her first position in academia was as a “chef instructor in a culinary program in the early nineties, where my goal was to teach future chefs how to make food healthier. I also started a private practice where I was one of the first adopters of using food as medicine,” said Pickett-Bernard.
“Years later I worked in a teaching position in a dietetics program where my goal was to teach future dietitians how to cook,” said Pickett-Bernard. “I also developed a culinary nutrition degree program, the first graduate of which brought a savory “bar” to market in a food research and development position.”
Today, Pickett-Bernard has developed a unique set of qualifications and skills. “Over the course of my career, I was certified as an Integrative and Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP) with the Institute for Functional Medicine, making me the only IFMCP who also attended the Culinary Institute of America.” These positions even led her to even appear on television as a nutrition expert.
All of Pickett-Bernard’s experiences have prepared her for her new role as director of the Functional Nutrition Certificate program and MSHS concentration track at RMUoHP. “Lending my touch to the Functional Nutrition Certificate will infuse the programming with culinary medicine,” said Pickett-Bernard.
Describing the certificate program as “a systems biology-based approach to personalized nutrition,” she said, “Anyone can find something for themselves, their family, or their clients in this certificate…Using food as medicine protocols to reduce the risk of disease, mitigate symptoms of disease, and promote vibrancy has applications on many levels from personal to medical treatment protocols.”
The subjects and courses taught in this program are beneficial to those looking to work in the nutrition field, explained Pickett-Bernard. “The culinary medicine component is unique among the functional certification offerings out there. We will really dig into various international cuisines and traditional botanical medicine and how they can be applied to food as medicine protocols.”
Pickett-Bernard is dedicated not only to the program but to the educational experience of each student. “All materials will be updated regularly and be comparable to the leading continuing education certificate programs only delivered in a university environment,” said Pickett-Bernard. “We will be offering courses focusing on culinary medicine, which exploits my culinary background. No other certificates offer this level of culinary education.”
The RMUoHP Functional Nutritional Certificate program is both unique and important to the community and to the healthcare professionals. “Our healthcare system is a sick-care system, which happily reimburses dysfunction and disease but not prevention,” said Picket-Bernard. “This certificate walks the student through evidence-based functional nutrition principles and applications which support a healthier food system.”
She added, “Bringing my knowledge to students means they can disperse over their diverse locales with information to improve the health of everyone within their practices, families, and communities,” said Pickett-Bernard.