This is a blog for all the nutrition students who read my blog, and to educate the public about what it takes to become a dietitian. It not the easiest career path to choose from, because it takes a lot of trial and tribulation to finally become a dietitian.
First you must earn a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, food service systems management, or a related area that is accredited or approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). College students in these majors take courses in foods, nutrition, institution management, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, and physiology. As of 2008, there were 279 bachelor’s degree programs and 18 master’s degree programs approved by the American Dietetic Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.
After completing the bachelor’s degree the student must then apply for a Dietetic Internship. This is an unpaid internship running about 9-12 months long that includes clinical, food service, community and long term care rotations. This internship is extremely difficult to get into. Right now the acceptance rate is lower than 50 percent. Statistically speaking it is harder to get a dietetic internship than to get into medical school. Each application for the dietetic internship costs 50-100 dollars and over 100 hours to complete. The applicant is also responsible for paying for flights if they are scheduled for an interview after completion of the application. The applicant must participate in the Computer Matching for the dietetic internship. This means that both applicants and directors of the internships rank their favorite to least favorite. This process occurs twice a year, 1) in the Spring matching appointments are made in April for internships starting in Fall, and 2) in the Fall matching appointments are made in November for internships starting in January. On matching day either in April or November you will find out if you get ONE internship or NONE. It is not like graduate school or medical school where you can get accepted into multiple places. You are matched to only ONE or none. If you are not matched then you must reapply the following year or for the next matching phase. Talk about stressful! I went through this three times before I finally was accepted. The sad thing is you can have perfect scores and all the experience in the world, and sometimes the computer matching process does not work in your favor. This is not like medical school, because if you have high MCAT scores and a high GPA you have up to a 90% chance of being accepted.
After being accepted and then completing the 9-12 month dietetic internship the student is then eligible to take the Registered Dietitian Test (after weeks of studying and 200$) and become a Registered Dietitian!
Students I am here to tell you there is a way to up your chances a little. First get your DTR licence. That stands for Dietetic Technician Registered. You can take the DTR exam after earning your bachelor’s degree without the internship. A DTR is under the dietitian, but you still have power to do a little more than just having your bachelor’s degree. This also ups your chances substantially for getting an internship. Second most traditional internships offer only 6-10 spots and this leaves your chances very low. I want to encourage you to apply for Distance Dietetic Internships. Distance Dietetic Internship can offer up to 50 spots! First choose a distance program that fits you the best. You can visit http://www.allaccessinternships.com to see all the different distance internships. A distance internship means you will be doing all your rotations in your own geographical region while completing other assignments online through the affiliated school/institution. When applying for the distance internship you must set up your clinical rotation site, food service site (which is often the same location as your clinical site), and your community site. I was a little intimidated about applying to the distance internships, because you have to make the calls and set everything up yourself. This adds to the already grueling process of the application process. But in turn you will make some great contacts and connections with local RD’s in your area. The Sodexo Distance Dietetic internship is special in that they set up your clinical and food service rotations for you in your geographical region after you are accepted. I would check out applying to this one! I did and I got matched! I also applied to Utah State’s distance program and Bowling Green’s distance program.
If you have any questions about the application process for either traditional internships or distance internships please email me! email@example.com
For all of you learning for the first time about the process of becoming a dietitian, now you understand how dedicated most young dietitian’s are, and how excited they are to help you get healthy!!