internships for dietitians

internships for dietitians

Clinical Dietetics (Inpatient/Ambulatory)

  • Clinical dietitians work with patients who have many different medical conditions, including gastrointestinal diseases and disorders, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, celiac disease and other food allergies.
  • Clinical dietitians are part of a larger healthcare team that includes doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Together they work to ensure their patients get the best care possible.
  • Depending on where you work, clinical dietitians may also be called clinical nutrition or medical nutrition therapy (MNT) dietitians. In hospitals and rehabilitation centers you will mostly work with inpatients or those who come to the hospital for services such as dialysis. When working in outpatient clinics you will see outpatients or those who visit your clinic for scheduled appointments.

Coordinated Program in Dietetics

A Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD) is an accredited program that includes supervised practice and integrates classroom learning with practical experience. CPDs are offered at many colleges, universities, and health care facilities throughout the United States. Students who successfully complete a CPD are eligible to sit for the national Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). A program director oversees each CPD and makes sure students meet all requirements of the didactic portion of their training. An RDN serves as a preceptor for each student during his or her supervised practice to ensure that all requirements for hands-on training are met.

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WIC/Nutrition Education

WIC/Nutrition Education:

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a nutrition program that provides nutrition and health education, supplemental foods, and health care referrals to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children under 5 years of age who are determined by a health professional to be at nutritional risk.

Foodservice Management

Foodservice management is an important role in the nutrition field, serving as a food service director (FSD) in health care facilities and other institutions. The food service director is responsible for managing foodservice operations to ensure that patients, residents, or clients receive optimal nutritional care.

The FSD is also responsible for meal planning and nutrition education. To be successful in this position, you need strong management skills so that you can manage staff effectively and hold them accountable while creating a positive work environment. You should also be good at budgeting and planning since these are critical components of your job.

Pediatric Nutrition

Pediatric nutrition is a growing field, and it’s an ideal choice for someone who wants to work with children. If you are interested in helping kids reach their full potential and want to learn more about the role diet plays in physical health, this may be the internship for you.

Hospitals and clinics often have dietitians on staff who are trained to help children with a wide range of problems, from eating disorders to allergies.

Public Health Nutrition

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in public health nutrition, here are some things that might be useful to note:

  • Get a bachelor’s degree. Most states require dietitians to have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, foodservice systems management, or related science. Additionally, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) requires that all students complete coursework accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education Programs (ACEND).
  • Get certified. The AND also requires all registered dietitians to pass an exam upon completing their education before they can practice.
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Research Internships

You’ll conduct research and assist a specific mentor in conducting their research. This can be done on-site or remotely, though most research internships require you to be on-site for the duration of your internship. Research internships often come with academic credit instead of pay, but this is a quick way to build up your resume and to learn from an established professional within the field. Some of these opportunities may be short (as short as one week), so if you’re looking for a longer experience, you may want to explore other options.

Now that we’ve covered different types of RDN internships, let’s dive into some specific programs that might interest you!

There are many options for internship locations.

Since dietitians work in a variety of fields, there are many options for internship locations. These include:

  • Hospitals
  • Colleges & Schools
  • Nursing homes & Retirement Homes
  • Health clubs & Gyms
  • Sports organizations (If you’re a sports nutritionist)

Hospitals are always a great option because they host many different types of dietitians and nutritionists. You can find people who manage large kitchens, the food for patients on special diets, or help with dietary counseling. If you want to specialize in any type of medical nutrition therapy, hospitals are an excellent choice because you’ll have access to patients who need dietary counseling due to ailments such as diabetes and cancer. For example, if your interest is in pediatric oncology or diabetes management in children, consider a hospital that specializes in pediatrics or has a children’s ward. If you prefer to work with adults, look for hospitals that have specialized adult programs where you will be able to work with patients who have specific needs related to their health issues.

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