- Associate Professor and Director of the Dietetic Internship Program
Dietetic Internship Program
The Simmons University Dietetic Internship Program is a graduate certificate in Dietetics and is intended for students pursuing the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN) credential.
The program is designed for students who hold an undergraduate degree and have completed the didactic course requirements (through an accredited DPD program) as required by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Our students benefit from rotations in acute care, food service, public health, community health, state government-based or non-profit nutrition, counseling and education and research and professional practice. The internship's focus is on community nutrition, and health promotion and wellness. Our students build on evidence-based research — highlighting culturally and economically sensitive standards of practice, nutritional care and disease prevention.
Up to twelve students are accepted into our stand-alone dietetic internship, and up to twelve are accepted into our MSDI combined program. The Dietetic Internship at Simmons University is a full time program. For more information about our internship and the different tracks, please refer to the links below.
Upon graduation, they are ready to practice as entry level practitioners in community nutrition, health promotion, acute care, and food service management.
Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master's degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor's degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website: https://www.cdrnet.org/graduatedegree. In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited DPD program at Simmons University are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program/apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN.
In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements see https://www.cdrnet.org/state-licensure
For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN, see https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend /students-and-advancing-education/information-for-students.
Our Dietetic Internship is accredited by ACEND and meets their requirements by providing at least 1200 hours of supervised practice, and trains students in the knowledge and practical skills necessary to be eligible to take the Registered Dietitian (RD) examination administered through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Satisfactory completion of both the coursework and the supervised practice components are required to receive a dietetic internship verification statement, stating the program graduate is eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration's RDN exam. After successfully passing the RDN exam, the individual can use the RDN credential and is then required to maintain credentialing though continuing education as required by CDR. Dietitians may have to maintain licensure for their state, if applicable. For more information about DPD and Dietetic Internship programs, go to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
The Simmons University Dietetic Internship is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
ACEND® can be contacted by:
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone: 800/877-1600, ext. 5400
- Mail: 120 South Riverside Plaza
Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995
The stand-alone internship program consists of several supervised practice rotations that take place annually between the months of September and early May. Interns follow a schedule laid out by the internship director and assistant director and do not follow the official Simmons University Academic Calendar. The start and end dates, as well as the winter break schedule, is provided to all interns in the "Welcome Letter" sent out annually in May. There is a one-week vacation between Christmas and the New Year. The final rotation schedule is provided to each intern by the first day of orientation. Interns are expected to be in their supervised practice sites 5 days a week (36 hours/week). Interns in the stand-alone program will register for Nutrition 451a (fall semester) and Nutrition 451b (spring semester), which includes the supervised practice, weekly internship classes and review days, and Joint Internship classes with Boston area dietetic internship programs. Interns are also expected to register for the graduate course Nutrition 452: Program Planning, Implementation and Evaluation in the fall semester (evening course).
The MSDI program starts in the fall semester and continues throughout the first academic calendar year (including the following summer) with graduate courses. Starting in September of the second year, MSDI interns will then follow the schedule for the stand-alone internship program (see above). Additional graduate courses may be required during the second year.
Simmons has two options for completing the dietetic internship.
Stand Alone Track
Up to twelve students are accepted into our full-time stand-alone internship program. This program is a 35-week program that includes all supervised practice hours and one course that may be applied for graduate credit. Students have the option of also applying to any of our graduate programs, but admission for any additional programs is separate.
Up to twelve students will be accepted into our combined MSDI program in which students complete both the Master’s in Nutrition and Health Promotion and the dietetic internship over a two-year period (5 semesters including one summer). In this track, students will need to complete all supervised practice and master’s requirements before they may be issued a verification statement. Students in this track complete the Master’s in Nutrition and Health Promotion, and choose either the Research or the Entrepreneurship track.
The Simmons dietetic internship offers one concentration track for the Stand-alone track: Community Nutrition, Health Promotion, and Wellness (CNHPW). In this concentration, interns will complete rotations in community health centers, public health and wellness-focused settings. Our students build on evidence-based research — highlighting culturally and economically sensitive standards of practice, nutritional care and disease prevention.
The Simmons MSDI track offers two concentrations for dietetics interns. Approved as of summer 2017, MSDI interns may apply to complete the Treatment of Eating Disorders concentration instead of the Community Nutrition, Health Promotion and Wellness concentration (CNHPW). All interns will automatically be enrolled in the CNHPW concentration unless they apply and are then accepted into the eating disorder concentration. Preference is given to interns in our MSDI track, or who have completed their Masters in Nutrition and Health Promotion at Simmons in the past 10 years. Only a limited number of slots are available, and the number varies each year depending on available supervised practice sites. Of those interns accepted into the Eating Disorder Treatment Concentration, they will experience 4 weeks at a community oriented rotation, and the remaining 12 weeks will be in various levels of care in eating disorder treatment facilities and practices.
All interns in this track must take NUTR 420: Treatment of Eating Disorders in the fall semester in the first year of the program, and will complete their focused rotations in the spring of the second internship year.
Simmons DI Program Completion Requirements
Verification statements will be provided to interns upon graduation when all of the following have been completed to the satisfaction of the internship faculty:
- Completion of required rotations including related projects and assignments and make-up of any days missed or sick days.
- Documentation of at least 1000 hours of supervised practice.
- Completion of all core competencies and program concentration competencies required by ACEND.
- The recommendation that the intern is prepared for entry level practice from all primary preceptors. The final recommendation may also be from an alternate preceptor in the case where entry level standards had not been met at the initial site/rotation.
- For interns in the stand-alone DI track: a ‘B’ or better in the required graduate level course Nutrition 452: Nutrition Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation.
- For interns in the MSDI program: a ‘B’ or better in each of the required graduate level courses.
- Attendance at all scheduled Monday afternoon internship meetings for NUTR 451 at Simmons University. Interns may be excused from a scheduled class if they are able to provide a valid reason such as need to attend a required orientation for a field site, medical emergency, jury duty, etc. Permission to miss class should be obtained prior to the class if possible. Interns are responsible for any missed material and should take steps to obtain information from a classmate.
- Completion of a formal evaluation by the student’s primary preceptor at each rotation.
- Completion of a formal evaluation by the student of each rotation.
- Completion of any assignments associated with rotations or NUTR 451, the weekly internship course. Assignments should be submitted by uploading to Moodle, the Simmons University web-based platform. Each assignment must achieve the standard of “met” competency or a B for that assignment as graded by the internship faculty. Interns will be required to redo any work that does not meet this threshold.
- Participation in a review session for the RD exam.
- Participation in exit interviews at the completion of the 35-week internship experience.
Upon completion of all dietetic internship requirements as listed above, information for all interns will be submitted to the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for eligibility to sit for the RDN examination.
Simmons Dietetic Internship Program Mission
To prepare interns to be competent, ethical entry level Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who build on evidence based research and standards of practice and standards of professional performance to provide nutritional care, health promotion and disease prevention that is culturally and economically sensitive. Our graduates will develop an appreciation for life-long learning to increase knowledge and enhance professional development.
Simmons Dietetic Internship Program Goals
Since the profession of dietetics is built on a conceptual framework that is constantly changing as a result of the discovery of new operational principles, evidenced based research and standards of practice, the dietetic internship's goals are:
Simmons University Program Goal #1
Graduates will be prepared for a career using their intellectual and clinical skills to competently function as entry level Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
Program Goal #1 Outcome Measures
- Objective 1 – 80% of program graduates take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion
- Objective 2 - The program’s one year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
- Objective 3 - Of graduates who seek employment, at least 80% are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation./li>
- Objective 4 – At least 80% of employers will rate graduates as superior or strong in nutritional knowledge and professional skills compared with other entry level dietetics professionals.
- Objective 5 - (DI Program) At least 80% of program students will complete the program requirements within 12 months (150% of the program length). (MSDI Program) At least 80% of program students will complete the program requirements within 3 years (150% of the program length).
- Objective 6- 100% of graduates will rate themselves as being at least adequately prepared for the nutrition-related aspects of the position.
Simmons University Program Goal #2
Graduates will be prepared as entry-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionists to participate in continuous learning and professional development activities, and exhibit leadership.
Program Goal #2 Outcome Measures
- Objective 1: 80% of graduates seeking acceptance to graduate programs in place of employment will enroll within 6 months of program completion.
- Objective 2: 50% of graduates will indicate that they exhibit leadership skills by being actively involved in a professional organization or by implementing initiatives in their employment.
*Program Outcomes data are available upon request.
Clinical/Acute Care Rotation (11 weeks)
Students will be placed in a hospital setting, preferably a community teaching hospital. The hospital should offer a variety of services to ensure a well-rounded and varied experience. Students are expected to gain experience in nutrition screening, charting, developing nutrition care plans, enteral and parenteral nutrition, and interacting with patients and health care professionals.
Food Service Rotation (4 weeks)
Settings for the food service experience may include colleges, K-12 schools, hospitals, and/or long-term care. Under the supervision of a chef, RD manager, or other managers/supervisors, interns will participate in large scale food production, delivery of patient/client meal service, marketing and sales of food services, and management/training of human resources. Interns participate in daily operations and work on projects related to department needs, such as conducting surveys, analyzing trends, updating systems, quality improvement, and development of policies and procedures.
Community Rotations (16 weeks)
Students spend time at a combination of places under this category, which has a wide variety of settings from which to choose. For example, an intern may spend 4 weeks at a community health center, 6 weeks with the department of public health combined with time at a local WIC program, 4 weeks with a private practice dietitian, and 2 weeks at a local food pantry.
Students might rotate at a Boston area community health center which provides a multi-ethnic supervised practice experience. The assigned community health center is generally a non-profit, community-based organization that provides primary and preventive health care services to their communities, particularly the vulnerable and underserved populations. Students gain proficiency in providing nutrition counseling and education in an outpatient or community setting, with both individuals and groups, at these locations.
Another place to gain counseling skills is with a wide variety of private practice nutrition professionals. Students can spend their time with a private practice dietitian, a fitness or wellness facility with a nutrition component run by a registered dietitian, a corporate wellness program, a medical practice, eating disorder program, diabetes management program or any other site that focuses on preventative medicine, disease management, and overall health and wellness. Activities in this site include developing and presenting educational seminars, participating in community education programs, developing educational tools, and writing nutrition and exercise-related articles for the lay public.
Community placements may also include the local department of public health where interns can observe and participate in policy development, education and training, program development and implementation, the legislative process, and research and epidemiology as it relates to nutrition and physical activity.
The internship also provides opportunities with state government/non-profit programs, where students participate in various activities and programs such as food banks, congregate meal programs, home-delivered meal programs, AIDS clinics, and other nutrition-based programs for the homeless, pregnant women and their families, and the elderly. Statewide or local programs focusing on childhood and adult obesity are another possibility or an elderly nutrition program supported by federal and state funds.
Professional Practice Rotation (1-2 weeks)
Interns are not required to secure their own site placements or preceptors except for their final elective “professional practice” week(s) scheduled for the end of the internship. This rotation allows the student to visit a site of their choosing for opportunities that were not available during the time of an assigned rotation. Students can either choose from existing established rotation sites, or they can pursue a new site. If it is a new site, the student works with DI Faculty to follow the DI program’s policy and procedure for establishing a new site/preceptor (found in the student handbook).
Eating Disorder Concentration Rotations
Interns accepted into the concentration on treatment of eating disorders will spend approximately 12 weeks in specialty rotations that serve clients in treatment for an eating disorder. Interns will experience different levels of care which may include: hospitalized inpatient, residential programs, partial hospitalization programs, outpatient programs, and private practice. The exact number of weeks may change based on site availability, as well as the intern’s interests and professional goals.
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- Professor and Director of Didactic Program in Dietetics
- Associate Professor of Practice and Assistant Director of the Dietetic Internship Program
- Professor and Ruby Winslow Linn Endowed Chair of the Nutrition Department
- Associate Professor