April 19, 2023

Ferguson named to lead Dietetic Internship Program

Sarah Ferguson, MPH, RDN, LDN, has been named program director for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Dietetic Internship Program, housed in the Center for Programs in Allied Health.

Sarah Ferguson, MPH, RDN, LDN

by Kylie Avery

Sarah Ferguson, MPH, RDN, LDN, has taken on the role of program director for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Dietetic Internship Program, housed in the Center for Programs in Allied Health, effective April 7. Former program director, Dianne Killebrew, MEd, RDN, LDN, has retired after 25 years of service to the program.

“Dianne has been an incredible mentor to me throughout my time here and especially during this transition of roles,” Ferguson said. “Dianne and I focused on the ways we could set our team and our program up for success. We gradually shifted communication and responsibilities, so that the transition of directors would be as smooth as possible for our current students, preceptors and community partners.”

After completing degrees in dietetics and public health from Indiana University, Ferguson first came to VUMC as a student in the Dietetic Internship Program. She stayed with VUMC, specializing in gastrointestinal nutrition in both inpatient and outpatient settings, while also volunteering as a preceptor for the internship. In 2021, she joined the program full time as an educational coordinator.

“Sarah is not a ‘status quo’ leader. She is very much an onward and upward thinker who can ‘flex on the fly’ while maintaining the quality of programming in the midst of constant, unpredictable changes that are now the norm,” said Killebrew.

New initiatives that Ferguson will be steering include the alignment of the Dietetic Internship Program with a master’s degree program through Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development and expanding program outreach.

Killebrew joined VUMC as an educational coordinator in the Dietetic Internship Program, using her talent for mobilizing teams to develop a broad professional network of training sites for dietetic interns. She prioritized interprofessional collaboration, and her belief that the program should prepare interns for a multitude of workplace challenges helped shape the program into the competitive learning hub it is today.

“Dianne inspired me to consistently ask myself, ‘How can I become a better leader?’ because I’ve watched her exemplify creative leadership through innovative thinking and approaching challenges from multiple lenses,” Ferguson said.

“I look forward to honoring the history of our program, while also embracing the current shifts in our educational requirements and professional standards. We’ve been training future registered dietitians since 1929, and I’m committed to continuously developing our program so we can provide a comprehensive education experience for years to come,” she added.