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Proactive Health Approach

May 15, 2024

Firuza Allahguliyeva recognized a major missed opportunity in her six years of working as a pharmacist for the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

She approved drugs and supplied them to hospitals in her native country — a former Soviet republic with a developing economy located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and West Asia. But Allahguliyeva began to feel she’d be better served by intervening earlier and helping patients make lifestyle changes to avoid health problems.

Allahguliyeva is now pursuing a new career path, as a Fulbright Scholar enrolled in the graduate-level dietetics program at University of Idaho’s Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences.

“When you dive into pharmacy, you know all about the drugs, how they work and their side effects, but sometimes it’s late,” Allahguliyeva said. “I was thinking it’s better to prevent the disease than treat the disease because the medicine has a bunch of side effects.”

Allahguliyeva, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmacy from Azerbaijan Medical University, arrived in Moscow last fall and is completing her prerequisites. She’ll begin the dietetics master’s program next fall.

The prestigious Fulbright Program, which is the U.S. government’s flagship program of international educational and cultural exchange, identified U of I as the best fit for Allahguliyeva. U of I was among a select group of schools willing to qualify applicants for its dietetics master’s program with an undergraduate degree in another discipline, such as pharmacy.

“I realized I was reading more nutrition-related articles than drug-related articles. I realized my interest in this area was increasing and increasing,” Allahguliyeva said. “I decided to do my research to find the best country to follow dietetics.”

She plans to become a clinical dietitian, which would allow her to put both her knowledge in pharmacy and dietetics to use. Her primary interest is in weight management, which is a significant problem in Azerbaijan.

Dietetics Director Hydee Becker, who will be Allahguliyeva’s advisor, considers it exciting for the school to welcome a Fulbright Scholar with such a unique educational background.

“She has a lot to offer the other students in her cohort,” Becker said. “Students learn from each other.”

Beyond her own career aspirations, Allahguliyeva has set a goal of increasing awareness of dietetics among Azerbaijan’s medical professionals. She hopes to collaborate with her country’s healthcare sector on a needs assessment about requiring a single course on malnutrition in medical school.

Published in Catching Up with CALS

Firuza Allahguliyeva (left), a pharmacist wants to become a clinical dietitian to help Azerbaijan's weight management problem.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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