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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 Dietetic Internship Program administrators 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 directed to do so does not adhere to the timeline of this program. You may start networking and simply getting to know preceptors in your area, however, do not start formally reaching out to potential preceptors before receiving instructions to do so.

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

  • Internship Director, Michelle McDermott – curriculum & assignment management, graduate credits during the internship, guidance during rotations
  • Program Coordination Specialist - Brianna Williams -  preceptor outreach, professional conduct, and building of rotation schedules

When do rotations begin?

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

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, Nutrition Ed and Management concentration rotations are not required to be RDNs. Your clinical rotations, however, do require preceptors to be RDNs.

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. 

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? (ICU, 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 the winter during your second year of the graduate program using the Rotation Summary Form (exact date and updated forms to be provided during the program). This is the first draft and may be adjusted pending preceptor availability and other factors. 

When should facility and preceptor agreement forms be turned in?

You will be starting to contact preceptors at the end of your first year. Once a preceptor confirms that they will work with you and you have obtained necessary documents from the preceptor, these should be forwarded to dietetic.internship@unco.edu no later than January of your second year. 

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. Beyond submitting a preceptor/facility forms, you are not responsible for any part of the affiliation agreement and should direct any questions regarding the internship portion of the program to dietetic.internship@unco.edu.