Sunday, December 7, 2014

How to Land a Dietetic Internship

How to Land a Dietetic Internship

Nutrition is becoming more and more popular.  That means more individuals are trying to enter the field of nutrition.  More and more people are wanting to become a Registered Dietitian.  Unfortunately, there are not enough programs to accommodate for this rise in excitement.  So what does that mean?. . . .   It means it's time to get your game faces on, the competition is real!!

If you want to be a Registered Dietitian you have to start now to plan your way to reach your goal.  You have to try to make good grades, especially in your science and nutrition classes.  You need to build your resume so the programs will be impressed at your accomplishments and be confident in your future potential.

Many interns will tell you that they had good grades throughout there time in college.  When you apply for internship you have to submit your GPA.  Some programs care about grades more than others.  But even though they may have a lower GPA requirements, when they look at applicants  the higher GPA tends to help.  What does that mean for you is that you need to take your classes seriously.  Don't try to rush through college by taking so many classes that it affects your grade.  Take what you can handle and make the best grades you can.  I will be honest with you,  many of my fellow interns GPA was pretty high.  The same is true with many of the other programs as well.
But what if I don't have a good GPA?

It's not too late.  Retake classes,  I did.  It is amazing how it can raise your GPA.  If your GPA is still not too great.  Consider applying for internships that  are less competitive.  You may have to move for some of these, but it is worth it in the long run.  There are a few online internships and smaller programs that do not get their spots filled. Those are great choices for people who may not have their GPA up as high as some of the more competitive programs. But make sure it is at least the minimum requirement.  You will be wasting money if you don't meet them. 

What else do they look at other than your grades?

Your character is a big one.  They look at your resume to see what you have done for work, community service and organizations.  I had a great GPA, however I think my resume helped me tremendously.  I had job experience that was in education, which was not in the nutrition field at all.  But having it there showed I had some work experience.  I also did community service with a local food bank and I helped at a local hospital.  They like seeing some type of medical  and nutrition experience on the resume.  It doesn't have to be anything major.  For me I was just a volunteer in the gift shop at a hospital and with doing the dishes for the cooking classes at the food bank.

The organizations and leadership positions are very important.  Many people join the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Student Dietetic Association,  however there are only so many leadership opportunities in those organizations.  Do not limit yourself to just these organizations.  You want to develop skills of leadership that can be used across any field.  Therefore become members of other organizations that interest you, even if it is not related to dietetics.  For me I was the Vice President of the Student Government Association (programs tend to be really impressed with such a position). I also was a founder and president of a Alpha Lambda Omega Christian Sorority and a member of Golden Key, Phi Kappa Phi, and several dance companies including Ballet Foundation in Dallas and Ballet Renee in Killeen, TX.  They like seeing what you are interested in other than just nutrition.   

When applying you also share your awards you achieve.  If you make good grades you will automatically have the Dean's and Chancellor's List to put down.  But if you want more you have to show yourself worthy of achieving awards.  Being involved in other organizations help because it provides more opportunities to get awards.  Volunteering also helps because many of the organizations normally have appreciation events where they award certificates of appreciation.  All of these awards counts towards your resume.

Last but not least . . .  your personal statement.

Your personal statement is just that, it is personal.  You want to grab the audiences attention.  They are going through many applications.  How are you going to standout from the rest.  The personal statement can help with that.  What makes you unique?  What makes you memorable?  When writing your personal statement you will probably have to tailor it for each program you are applying too.  Each program has their own unique characteristics.  They want to know how you will fit in with them.  That means you can't necessarily use a generic personal statement for all of them.  You can use some of the same general information, but customize it to fit that programs needs.

After working hard throughout your program, do not give up.  Many people get scared and never apply for internship.  The jobs that you want will be as a Registered Dietitian.  Don't quit at the end.  If you don't get an internship the first round, try again.  If you know you need to make some changes, build your resume, or raise your GPA then do it.  But don't give up on your dream.  Becoming a dietitian is attainable if you truly want it.  Do not give up. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

What is a Dietetic Intern?

What is a Dietetic Intern?

Our TWU Intern class of 2014

During my internship I was asked this over and over again.  Many people just do not know what a Register Dietitian is, or what it means to be an intern to become one.  Lets make this simple. In order to become a dietitian you must complete an internship inorder to sit for your exams.
But that is not the only thing you have to do in order to become a Register Dietitian.  Currently there are two ways to become a dietitian.  Through an internship or throug a coordinated program.  I went through the internship route.  So what is the difference?
Well the internship route requires you to get your undergraduate prerequisits.  Classes such as Organic and Biochemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, along with all of your nutrition classes such as Macronutrients, Micronutrients, Nutrition thru LifeCycle, Medical Nutrition Therapy, Comunity Nutrition, and many more.   After receiving credit for these classes you must apply for internship.  A process that includes looking at your GPA, your invovlement in the community, oncampus, and work experience.  Internships are very competitive.  Nutrition is becoming more and more popular, however there are only a few internships available.  To get in you must work hard from the begining of your program and prove yourself to be worthy of being selected.
The coordinated program is similar to the internship route.  Techinacally it is an internship, however the route to get in is different.  This is ideal for individuals who already have a bachelors degree and do not want to go back for a second one.  You will have to take their prerequesit class such as anatomy, organic chemistry, and Intro to Nutrution.  During your actual program you will take classes such as the Medical Nutrition Therapy and other classes during the week as a normal college student.  And then on designated days you will do your actual rotations.  So in this program you are learning while you are doing your rotations while the internship you learn first and then apply it.  These programs are even more competitive because many people do not want to get a second bachelors degree.
Many of the coordinated and internship programs have the option of recieving your Masters degree.  This is great because the profession is moving into this direction.  Soon all new RDs will be required to have a master's degree.
So you get into an internship, what should you expect?
The bulk of many internships is clincal and food service.  Clinical rotations are important even if you do not plan on working in a hospital.  It is the most difficult rotation, but it will give you a great foundation to other areas in dietietics.  In the clinical setting you must work with patients to help them nutritionally.  In most cases in the hospital, many patients do not eat enough so you have to come up with methods to help them eat.  In worse cases you have to calculate how much nutrition support they may need through tube feedings.  There are also many opportunities for education in the hospital.  Doctors may want you to educate a patient on a special diet such as in the case with diabetes.  It is a great experience for individuals who like educating.  Foodservice is different depending on where you go.  Some interns go to rotations where they do a lot of food production, while others go where they do mainly administrative and managment tasks.  The main purpose is to learn how to lead a foodservice opperation regardless of where you go.
There are many other sites you may go to during your internship.  These rotations typically are shorter.  Some rotations include going to community organzations such as WIC or a food bank.  You may go to a specialty clinic such as a clinic that specializes in eating disorders, dialysis, or bariatrics.  There are also rotations working with sports nutrition and the media.  That is the great thing about the dietietic profession.  The opportunities are endless. 
Many programs require you to do extra assignments on top of your regular activities.  So working during your internship is almost impossible.  You typically are in internship 40-45hrs a week, and then you have homework on top of that.  Work and a social life is pretty much non-existent at that point.  You must complete 1200hours to get credit for your internship, so you will be busy for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years depending on the program.  Some individuals do part time internships which allows for more flexibility.
After your internship you are one step closer to becoming an RD.  Once your program clears you, you can schedule to take your RD Exam.  The rest is history!!