Michelle Jeffcoat May 2014 3Michelle Jeffcoat began her undergraduate journey in Mass Communications, but quickly switched majors after discovering Nutrition. A graduate of The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Dietetic Internship and M.S. in Nutrition Sciences program, she’s now harnessing her passion for healthcare in order to mentor the next generation of nutrition specialists.

Jeffcoat came to the UAB School of Health Professions in 1992. “In order to become a Registered Dietitian, nutrition students must complete a 9-month Dietetic Internship to sit for the Registration Exam,” she explains. “My professors at Samford spoke very highly of the program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I liked that the UAB internship had a more clinical focus, as many of the Dietetic Internships at that time focused more on food service.”

Jeffcoat opted to continue her graduate studies when she learned that the Dietetic Internship provides graduate-level credit hours. “It was entirely worth it to put in the additional time in school to meet my goal. Unlike many other places, Children’s of Alabama requires all Registered Dietitians to have a Master’s degree. I use my degree every single day!”

Jeffcoat now works as a Clinical Nutritionist in Pediatric Nephrology at Children’s of Alabama. She’s also a Team Leader in the Department of Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services, which means she’s responsible for scheduling undergraduate student and UAB Dietetic Intern rotations.

“Children’s of Alabama keeps a close relationship with UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences,” she explains. “Pediatrics is an important rotation for students and, historically, UAB has not been a pediatric hospital. So the Children come to us.”

Jeffcoat has mentored UAB students for the past 8 years.

“Personally, I enjoy watching the developing passions in all student levels,” she says. “It is fulfilling to have played at part in the critical learning periods of their careers. We love watching our UAB students excel in great facilities across the US. It is rewarding to know that we have helped prepare them to become highly sought after, well trained, and specialized individuals who will be able to look forward to a long and rewarding career.”

Not one to forget her undergrad roots in communication, Jeffcoat reminds students that their GPA does not define them as a person.

“Grades, scores, and class rank, while no doubt important, are not always the most heavily weighted selection criteria that employers consider when hiring entry level employees. Having a strong character, thinking of others, showing kindness and compassion, and having good communication skills are among the most important characteristics to develop before entering the work force. Your character is always more important than any degree that you earn.”