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Dietetic Internships and the Process

Photo: Finally a member!!! Getting closer to becoming a dietitian! So exciting!

Another step closer to becoming a dietitian!! I also want to congratulate all of those future dietitians that have recently completed their internships!! Good luck with studying for the RD exam and fingers crossed to passing! 😀

I thought I would write a post to give more information about where I am at in my didactic program and what is in store for my future.

Background:

At SEMO you complete a 4 year didactic program consisting of 47 program hours just in dietetics and an additional 46 hours in other requirements, mainly science classes and to graduate you need 120 credits total.

dietetic coursesother courses

Due to scheduling and the availability of classes during certain semesters and the fact that I changed majors and have to work around cross country/track practices, I am not one of the lucky ones graduating early. But that is okay, because it is better this way for internship purposes.

You also have University Studies courses you have to take as well which is an addition to the above and that is another 51 hours.


Then first semester of your senior year comes and goes and it’s internship application time! Our internship program is a bit different than when you hear others talk about internships. You can graduate and have a degree in dietetics but it doesn’t mean diddly until you have completed your 10-month-ish internship. Why? Because you cannot sit and take your Registered Dietitian exam until you’ve completed and passed the dietetic accredited internship.

Internships are mostly run by colleges, hospitals, and programs such as WIC. What you do is you pick the programs that look best and fit best to your liking and you rank them on a scale of want most to least. Most people choose 5 choices.

You then follow the application process for each one which normally consists of certain GRE and GPA scores to apply, 3 letters of recommendation, a stellar cover letter explaining why you want to be a dietitian/that internship and other questions they ask and you rank in the computer matching where it places rank wise. You do this for each internship and a lot of them have application costs.

The computer somehow miraculously takes your rankings and the internship hosts rankings of applicants and “matches” each other. You can only match one place and some don’t match any. If you ranked somewhere as your least favorite “back up” choice and they ranked you high, you most likely won’t match. Nobody quite understands how it works, so you just have to wish and hope you match.

So if you don’t match you can try a second time which in some cases people will decide to not take their match and therefore an opening will be available, or not enough people matched and so places are still open. Therefore, you can possibly match in the second round. If still no match, then you have to figure out what to do with your life and can reapply for the second semester to the few internships that have winter start dates for internships, or your wait a full year and reapply the next year. Awesome right? No. And as sad as it is, there is a 50% match rate in the United States, so internships are COMPETITIVE!

If you match, you get to pay tuition to work 40+ hours a week and still take classes that may or may not go towards a masters degree. But you gain so much experience that will help prepare you for your RD exam!

So our internship isn’t like some where you just contact somewhere or someone and set up something. It’s a grueling and competitive process that is also luck depending on your rankings and their rankings.

So Currently: Just finished junior year of didactic program and am currently studying for the GRE in hopes to take it by the end of Summer!

I’ve also already made lists of where I am applying for internships and made little folders highlighting things such as tuition, perks of the internship, any emphasis on sports nutrition and how much, grad program, distance away from home etc.

My original plan was to apply to pretty much the Missouri internship programs and some Illinois ones so I could be close to home.

But then I spoke to some Sports RD’s and through my participation in the Collegiate and Sports Dietetic Association have been shown where the great internships and grad programs are for what I want to do.

I was told to focus on grad programs and go to the best one. So that’s what I am doing. I am closing my eyes and diving into something that completely scares me but excites me. It scares me to apply somewhere so far from home but it excites me to possibly have the chance of the best program and hands on opportunities with athletes rather than just researching.

I will definitely keep you all updated in my internship application process even though it scares me in case I don’t match, but I do have backups which is why focusing on grad programs is great advice.

How grad programs work. Some internships provide a certain amount of hours through classes that can count as grad credits for a masters degree and if you plan on doing grad school then that application is due before internship applications. So some schools like the main one I am applying to, I have to make it into the grad program to make it into the internship. But getting into the grad program doesn’t mean I am guaranteed a spot in the internship. BUT if I don’t match for the internship, I will just do a year of grad school and hope for a grad assistantship position to help pay for schooling and reapply the next year for the internship.

So yeah! That is the plan! Life is interesting and the thought of being away from Alex for a possible four years is a bit insane and scary, but we can only let the big man upstairs take control of life and there is always a plan. So I will follow my dreams as I support Alex’s and hope fate steps in somehow or another to show me and guide me along the path meant for me and my future.

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