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Frequently Asked Questions about the Dietetic Internship Year

When should I start working on building my rotations for the dietetic internship year?

You will be contacted by the Supervised Practice Coordinator (Nicole Schmittou) at the end of your spring semester during your 1st year of the graduate program. At this time, you will receive details and guidance on securing preceptors for your rotations, including any necessary forms and documents. Working on building your rotations prior to being contacted by the Supervised Practice Coordinator does not adhere to the timeline of this program. Do not reach out to potential preceptor before receiving instructions to do so.

Who should I rely on for guidance during the internship portion of this program?

  • Internship Director, Nicole Withrow – curriculum & assignment management, graduate credits during the internship, guidance during rotations
  • Supervised Practice Coordinator, Nicole Schmittou – preceptor outreach, professional conduct, and building of rotation schedules

When do rotations begin?

Your rotations should begin no later than four weeks after you complete the mandatory three-day orientation which is typically held the last week of June.

When do rotations end?

Depending on whether you choose the full-time or part-time track (see below), you will finish your rotation hours the following spring or the following summer.

Do I have a choice between the full-time and part-time option for the internship?

Yes, you can choose either the full-time or part-time track. Full-time interns will complete their rotation hours within 8-10 months and finish mid May, part-time interns will complete their rotation hours within 12 -14 months and finish mid August.  

How detailed should my first email be for the initial contact to potential preceptors?

Review the sample email found here. Make sure to also attach the list of required experiences for the particular rotation you’re seeking and an updated resume that is tailored to that particular rotation (see below for guidance on resumes).

How much detail should my resume contain that I’m sending out to potential preceptors?

The resume should be succinct (no more than one page) as your potential preceptors will have a limited amount of time to review. You will likely have more than one version of a resume. Spotlight areas that pertain to that particular rotation; i.e. for a food service rotation provide more detailed descriptions of your past experience in food service and keep the descriptions of your other experiences more brief.

Do all rotations require an RDN as a preceptor?

No. Preceptors for your community, food service, and concentration rotations are not required to be RDN. Your clinical rotation does require a full-time RDN for your in-patient hours.

Who can qualify to be 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). Examples of non-RDN preceptors include: Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, psychologists, social workers, food service directors, health & wellness educators, administrators, among others. 

How should my clinical hours be distributed between in-patient and out-patient experiences?

The majority of your clinical rotation hours should be from an in-patient­ JCAHO approved hospital, that offers a breadth and depth of experiences with acute care for obesity, endocrine disorders, cancer, malnutrition, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal diseases, and pediatrics. Aim for a hospital that has more than 80 beds.

Do I have to do my food service rotation at a hospital?

No! There are a variety of different facilities where you can complete your food service hours. These hours can be completed anywhere that has an industrial/commercial kitchen. Some examples other than hospitals include schools, universities, food banks with prepared meals, community kitchens, commercial restaurants, corporations, non-profit organizations etc. Please remember that a minimum of 40 hours must be completed in a school (K-12).

Is there a particular type of facility that is encouraged for my community rotation hours?

WIC & government subsidized programming are strongly encouraged.

How do I decide what concentration area is right for me? (Nutrition Education & Counseling or Management)

Review the required activities and CDRNs for each concentration found on the curriculum page.  Think about what your dream job would be as a dietitian and where you would like to gain additional experience. Some concentration areas where you might find niche roles include grocery stores, fitness centers, private practice businesses, corporations, non-profit organizations and many more.

When is the deadline for submitting finalized rotation schedules?

Rotation schedules will be submitted in January during your second year of the graduate program. Reminder that rotation scheduled must be typed. Reach out to Nicole Schmittou prior to the final due date to submit a draft and check for accuracy.

When should facility and preceptor agreement forms be turned in?

The finalized roation schedules and all preceptor agreements will be turned in together during the January due date of your second year. Do not turn in the agreement forms as you receive them. You must have a facility form and a preceptor form completed for each location (these forms will be provided to you at the end of your first year in the graduate program).

Will I need to attend an interview with potential preceptors prior to them accepting me as an intern?

Many preceptors do ask that potential interns come in for an interview to ensure it will be a good fit. Interview and professionalism tips will be provided in preparation for building your rotation schedules.

What is the process for affiliation agreements?

The process to start affiliation agreement negotiations begins soon after complete rotation schedules with dates, preceptor forms, and facility forms are received mid-January. All preceptors will receive the blanket affiliation agreement from the UNC Contracts office to move forward in their organization for review and signature. If a facility has their own agreement, UNC can review them at this time. Direct any questions regarding the internship portion of the program to dietetic.internship@unco.edu.