In January 2013, 20 students began working alongside registered dietitians across the state of Kentucky. As part of the Supervised Practice Program, students in the Coordinated Program (CP) and the Dietetics Internship (DI) experienced three rotations within their internship placements: medical nutrition therapy, food service systems management, and community nutrition. In these rotations, students depended upon the knowledge gained from previous courses. DI intern Sarah Lewis shared, “The knowledge I have learned in the classroom has been applied to real world situations. We must combine this knowledge with problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills in order to succeed.”
To obtain the credential of registered dietitian (RD), students must complete a minimum of 1,200 supervised practice hours of professional experience in addition to earning a degree in dietetics. “The internship is a safe educational setting for our students to practice the skills that will make them good entry level dietitians in a career that is so necessary as we try to decrease the rising tide of obesity. The dietetics and human nutrition faculty who serve as directors, preceptors and research mentors are proud to work with these future leaders in health care,” said Dr. Hazel Forsythe, DI Director. Upon completion of internships, dietetics students are eligible for the Commission on Dietetic Registration national registry exam.
In addition to working alongside preceptors, the Supervised Practice Program provided students with the opportunity to attend special events. These events included legislative days at the Kentucky Capitol, the Kentucky Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, and various campus presentations. Liz Combs, the Coordinated Program Director in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition (DHN), shared, “The UK DHN Supervised Practice Program is an excellent example of experiential learning at its best. The students are able to put their many years of formal education into practice by providing education and services at their sites. These opportunities for community engagement help the students hone their skills while also elevating the life of Kentuckians.”
The students completed their supervised practice experience on July 31 and were recognized at a graduation event. Preparation for the national registry exam will now be the main focus for many of these students as they prepare to begin their careers. Cory Eakins, a 2013 CP intern, expressed, “I feel that the internship process is a vital step in any future dietitian’s career. The experience has truly opened my eyes to so many different aspects of being a dietitian that I never even considered.”
The School of Human Environmental Sciences congratulates these students on completion of this important component of their academic program.
Graduates from the Dietetic Internship:
Graduates from the Coordinated Program: