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Giving Back So That Dietetics Can Move Forward

posted Mar 18, 2016, 1:10 PM by   [ updated Mar 23, 2016, 5:17 AM ]

As we continue to celebrate National Nutrition Month here at ILC, we are lucky enough to host a dietetic intern. As briefly mentioned in last week’s post about the dietetics profession, all prospective Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) have to complete a dietetic internship.  After completing the accredited dietetics program, graduates can apply for a dietetic internship and if accepted, will complete 1200 hours of supervised practice to fulfill the necessary requirements for sitting for the registration exam.  Internship programs are incredibly competitive, relying on a match system similar to medical doctor residency programs.  According to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), the ‘match rate’ (or, odds of any one applicant to match with any one program) since 1993 has been about 50%. This alarming figure is due to an unbalanced ratio of internships to eligible applicants.  As more unique and non-traditional roles for dietitians continue to emerge, RDNs working in those roles will need to be willing to share their experience with interns so that the number of students accepted into internship programs can also grow.  The more preceptors there are, the more interns there can be--and that is exactly why ILC loves having interns.   We are giving back so that the profession can move forward.

The 1200 internship hours are broken up into the three main practice areas: clinical, community, and food service.  ILC’s dietitians actually do a little bit of all three disciplines, so internship programs normally have us focus our time with each intern based on what type of experience that individual needs.  Traditionally, clinical internship rotations are completed in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and long term care facilities; community rotations with programs like WIC, Head Start, and SNAPed; and food service rotations in hospital or public school food service. This gives the intern experience in a variety of settings, preparing her or him for the growing and changing job market for RDNs. In the past, ILC’s interns have provided nutrition education to customers, delivered nutrition-related presentations to small groups, developed recipes, and provided input for marketing, communications, and even graphic design.  This week, we focused on our wellness visits.  Our intern provided basic nutrition education with our food model games and nutrition samples.  Although she was only with us for a few days, we were thrilled to share our unique slice of the dietetics profession with her and are looking forward to hosting a second intern later in April!