Reflections on my Time as a Dietetic Intern

Published on: 03/14/2018

Looking back as an RD, I never realized I didn’t post this…so now that I’ve been both intern and preceptor for a year, I will share

Happy RD and RD-to-be DAY everyone

It’s crazy to think my 1200+ hour dietetic internship is COMPLETE!

My tips for future interns:

1. Approach each rotation with as few preconceived expectations as possible; this does not mean don’t review your notes from undergrad to be prepared for the topic. It simply means do not approach a particular rotation with a certain outcome in mind other than to learn from your preceptor. My favorite rotations were the ones that I entered with an open mind and the expectation to complete a project or two that would help my preceptor. 

2. Be on top of your meal-prep and laundry…it’ll help you save time and money. During my internship, I had rotations for about 40 hours per week (M-F) often with a commute of one-hour each way and an additional 10 hours per week to maintain my assistantship (which provided a full tuition waiver and monthly stipend). I scoured the ads and used M-Perks (Meijer coupons) to save as much as possible. For laundry, I shopped at Goodwill to increase the number of dress pants I had to choose from. Instead of hanging each piece on a separate hanger (skirt on one, blouse another and cardigan a third) hang one whole outfit on the hanger so it’s ready to go the next day.

Now that I’ve served as a preceptor for a dietetic intern myself, I have a few comments to add.

1. I had a really wise moment writing #1 and am not even sure as a preceptor I would have come up with that one!

2. Don’t compare yourself to the other interns in your program. Trust that you were selected for the skills you possess and the experiences you bring to the table; on that same note know that the other interns (whether from your program or others) bring their own strengths to each rotation. The internship is stressful enough, the more you can work together, the easier it will be for both of you.

3. Be willing to grow; what you learned in undergrad is the lecture version, the internship is the lab. Each rotation will bring its own challenges and learning opportunities. While some of these may be outside your comfort zone (watching a surgery, counseling patients, discussing recommendations with other providers), being willing to experience them will make your internship more rewarding, and some are likely required.

I want to thank my preceptors at the University of Illinois where I completed my internship as well as to my recent dietetic intern from the University of Florida for providing me the opportunities to learn as both an intern and preceptor.

If you have any other advice for future interns, please feel free to comment.


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