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What is a Preceptor?

A preceptor is an expert or specialist, such as a Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, who provides guidance, practical experience and training to a Dietetic Intern.  A preceptor should be someone involved with the field of nutrition and dietetics, who is in a position to guide a prospective dietetic intern experience in the internship at the local level (where you live).

A Preceptor Form for each preceptor and a Facility Form for each facility MUST be completed and submitted with your application. A Preceptor can write a memorandum stating willingness to be Preceptor if currently working with our internship.

  • What are the responsibilities of a preceptor?

    Evaluate every intern’s progress, model evidence-based practice and professional behavior, complete documentation during the rotation, provide assistance, set appropriate goals, and facilitate learning activities that support the required competencies, provide support/guidance/education. A preceptor must be able to fulfill the CRDs since they will be evaluating your progress and are responsible for you successfully completing the internship. 

  • Who can be a preceptor?
    • Registered Dietitians Nutritionists  (RD / RDN)
    • Licensed Dietitians (LD)
    • Certified Dietitians (CDN)
    • Nutritionists 
    • Registered Nurses (RN)
    • Nurse Practitioners (NP)
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
    • Physicians’ Assistants 
    • Food Service Directors (Schools, Hospitals, Long-term Care Facilities, Youth/Adult Correctional facilities)
    • Food service manager (Schools, Hospitals, Long-term Care Facilities, Youth/Adult Correctional facilities)
    • Licensed Social Workers (ex: someone who works with eating disorder, weight management, terminally ill patients, feeding specialists in pediatrics)
    • Licensed Psychologists (ex: someone who works with eating disorder, weight management, terminally ill patients, feeding specialists in pediatrics)
    • Certified Diabetes Educators
    • Health and Wellness educators/facilitators(ex: Sodexho)
    • Administrators (such as in LTC facilities) 
    • Medical Doctors
    • Professionals who work at local community organizations such as United Way, food banks, Salvation Army, non-profit organizations that serve community members and/or provide nutrition education, campus fitness centers (can fulfill competencies 2.1-2.13)
    • Researchers in the field of Nutrition (can fulfill competencies CRD 1.1-1.5)
    • Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG)
    • Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD)
    • Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP)
    • Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition (CSR)
    • Dialysis Center Employees
  • What are the minimum qualifications for preceptors:
    • It is highly encouraged to seek Registered Dietitians as preceptors and is a requirement for your clinical rotation but for your other rotations it is not mandatory.
    • For the clinical rotation (Inpatient and Outpatient) you MUST have a RD/RDN as a preceptor
    • Preceptors must be able to document appropriate continuing education for the previous two years.
    • Sufficient variety in the overall combination of facilities must be available to support the breadth and depth of experiences required by the ACEND Accreditation Standards
    • Preceptor must provide educational resources to support an intern (resume on file).
    • Preceptors must have adequate time to provide required supervision of the student.
    • For any preceptor having supervisory responsibility for the intern or verification of work completed, Preceptor and Facility forms must be submitted. They are available in the Intern Application section.
  • How many preceptors do you need?

    You will need a minimum of 3 preceptors.

    Ideally you will have a minimum of one preceptor for each rotation (please remember it is a requirement that you have at least one  RD/RDN for clinical).  It is best if you have a RD/RDN for your inpatient and outpatient clinical rotation. 

    Your concentration area is separate from your clinical, foodservice, and community, therefore it is best to secure a different preceptor for those hours and ideally it will be with an RD/RDN.

    *You are responsible to arrange your preceptors and rotation schedules and it must be completed for your application packet to be reviewed and considered for admission.

  • How can you find a preceptor? 
    • Be creative!
    • Do not rely on a school’s list of preceptor’s, this can be limiting, and some schools do not have one.
    • Discuss with your academic professor’s, your DPD program director, advisors.
    • Attend local dietetic association meetings and network, it is never too early to start!
    • Ask previous interns, dietetic students for assistance and suggestions.
    • If you have contacted a preceptor and have a rapport with them, ask if they have suggestions.
    • Email/cold call, be creative.  However, prior to contacting a potential preceptor, make sure you read about the facility, what they have to offer, who the contact person is so you can address them by their first and last name. Do NOT email or call without being prepared.
    • Contact a previous employee, where you have volunteered, etc….
    • The accrediting body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintains a list of RDs who have indicated that they are willing to be Preceptors.  You may find the list on the Find a Preceptor link on eatright.org if you are a Student Member.
    •  Attend local conferences, meetings, community events and network.  Introduce yourself to nutrition professionals and ask if it would be ok to contact them regarding a potential rotation.