The dietetic internship is one of the most exciting times in your path to becoming a Registered Dietitian. You have spent the past four years studying nutrition in the classroom and now it is time to practice what you have learned. In the early years of undergraduate study you may have found yourself wondering what exactly the dietetic internship is and what your experience will be like.
Depending on the program that you chose, you will spend 9-12 months in different rotations. These may include, but are not limited to, a hospital, nursing home, public school, university/college, community organization (food pantry, children’s program), and RD private practice. At these locations, you will learn how to complete a nutrition assessment, provide counseling to patients, work in a food service kitchen, expand your knowledge of medical nutrition therapy, and much more. Your preceptors are usually Registered Dietitians and at some point experienced an internship themselves. Thus, they are typically eager to educate you, and provide constructive criticism so that you can become an excellent practitioner. The internship is truly a great experience and well worth the time and energy you put into it. Make sure to take advantage of all the preceptors have to teach you and soak in as much as you can because before you know it, it is time for graduation.
After completing this experience, you will be well prepared for an entry-level dietitian position, and are qualified to practice as an RD eligible clinician before passing the RD exam. It is recommended that you take the exam as soon as possible after finishing the internship. Most people take it within 6 months of graduation. To help you pass the exam, there are textbooks and review courses, which the internship director typically recommends. Most people pass the first or second time they take the two-hour, computer based exam. And then, finally, you are officially a Registered Dietitian!
The field of nutrition is always changing, with new information coming out all the time. To keep yourself up-to-date, be sure to take advantage of continuing education opportunities that the LIDA has to offer. As a student, the continuing education meetings are free, and cover a wide range of topics on the latest nutrition information. As a member of the ADA you receive monthly copies of Journal of the American Dietetic Association and access to everything on www.eatright.org.
Let’s get started! Use the links below to start searching for the program that is right for you and to learn more about the program: