In order to become a Registered Dietitian, graduates of a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) must also complete a dietetic internship. Internships are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education (CADE) and are designed to meet specific competencies. Internships must provide at least 900 hours of supervised practice as part of meeting those competencies, so internships must be at least six months in length. Most provide more than that. Internships are typically sponsored by hospitals, health departments, and colleges and universities. Those sponsored by universities are often coupled to master’s degree programs and tend to be two years in length. Please note that most internships also charge a fee to cover the cost to the facility of providing the training.
Placement in internships is very competitive, with national placement rates averaging 55-61%. Most require a minimum GPA of about 3.0, work experience (ideally but not necessarily related to dietetics in some way), and volunteer experience (ideally but not necessarily related to dietetics in some way). Therefore, it is important that you begin early in your college career to obtain experiences that may strengthen your internship application. Placement is by a national computerized matching process in which students apply to specific internships and also rank order their preferences with the company managing the matching process. Internships then also rank order their applicants with the same company and matches are made based on both sets of rank orders. Yes, it makes the NBA draft seem simple!! A listing of the dietetic internships and a brief description of each is available through the American Dietetic Association website at www.eatright.org.
The Clemson University DPD program has a three-year internship placement rate of 42%, that is, 13 of 31 students who have applied for dietetic internships between 2007 and 2009 have been accepted.