The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) requires 1200 hours of experience in the Dietetic Internships. The UMass Amherst Dietetic Internship schedule is in accordance with this requirement.
The 10 1/2-month program is divided into three rotations: clinical, which lasts 16 weeks; food service management, 11 weeks; and community nutrition/nutrition education, 10 weeks. Interns are generally assigned to one facility for each rotation they complete, although they also visit other sites during some rotations. Working on some legal holidays, evenings, and weekends may occasionally be required.
Interns work with preceptors in each field site and with the Internship Director to insure that all competencies established by ACEND are met. Additional work (e.g. reading, research) is required above and beyond the minimum 24 hours per week in the field site, especially during the clinical rotation. We also offer an intensive 2-week pre-clinical training program to help prepare interns for their clinical rotations. The program becomes full-time (i.e. 40 hours per week) for the staff relief portion of the clinical rotation (approximately the last three weeks of that rotation).
Interns rotate through a VA hospital for 2 weeks where they work with psychiatric inpatients and ambulatory clients receiving nutrition counseling for weight management and Type 2 diabetes. In a 2-week “plan-your-own” rotation, interns develop their own learning objectives in an area of dietetics that is of personal interest. The director can assist in finding a preceptor/rotation site once the intern identifies the area of interest.
Interns are required to complete their supervised practice on the schedule assigned by their preceptor. Schedules vary from one rotation site to another, based on the needs of the particular facility and the preceptor to which the intern is assigned for any particular segment of a rotation. Some sites may typically require 3 full days per week, others 5-6 hours per day for 4-5 days per week, or special activities may occur on an occasional basis. Interns may be assigned to activities as early as 6 a.m. or as late as 7 p.m., or may be restricted to hours an organization normally operates (e.g. M-F, 8:30-5:00).
The minimum 24 hours per week is for practice in the facilities, and does not include travel time, outside preparation, the 3-day orientation preceding the entire program, or the seminar, which generally meets for a class day every other week. This schedule translates into an average of approximately 30 hours per week total commitment to the program, plus travel time to sites and seminars further away from an intern’s home.
There is a vacation between Christmas and New Year’s, with a one-week break approximately between the second and third rotations, usually falling in late February or late March.