If you’re seeking a career as a nutritionist or a dietitian, there are several important steps that you must complete. While most people are aware of the need for completing a dietetic education, a requirement that many people are not aware of is completing a nutrition internship. Usually occurring once your degree program has been completed, a nutrition internship will give you the real-world experience that you need to be a successful nutritionist or dietician.
Anyone interested in a dietetic career needs to get more information about nutrition internships and what they include. Learn more about nutrition internships and find out your options for completing vital work experience requirements for becoming a dietetic professional.
Why an Internship is Important
There are two reasons that completing a nutrition internship is important. First and foremost, supervised work experience is a requirement for being licensed as a dietitian or nutritionist in the majority of states in the country. Second, participating in a nutrition internship gives you valuable real world experience that will lead to a more successful career as a dietetic professional.
During the course of your nutrition internship, you will perform the same tasks as a fully licensed dietician or nutritionist. For example, you will interact with clients, develop meal plans and educate people about proper nutrition. Once you have completed your nutrition internship, you will have all the skills necessary to work as a successful nutritionist.
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Options for Completing a Nutrition Internship
The type of internship that you complete will largely depend on what type of certification you are pursuing. Generally, those who are seeking a dietetic career, will become certified with the Commission on Dietetic Registration as either a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or a Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered (NDTR).
If you decide to pursue an RDN, you will need at least 1200 hours of supervised dietetic experience in an internship. Most people will complete a nutrition internship as part of a Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD). If you did not enroll in a CPD and instead completed a Didactic Program in Dietetics, you would complete a Dietetic Internship (DI) at an accredited institution. Your internship will generally take between eight months and two years to complete.
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Should you decide to pursue certification as a NDTR, you will need to complete a 450 hour internship through what’s known as a Dietetic Technician Program (DT).
Other Internship Options
While they are your best choices, there are other options for completing a nutrition internship other than a CPD, DI or DT. In fact, there are many organizations and government institutions that offer nutritional internships for dietetic students.
For example, the United States Department of Agriculture offers a Student Internship Program through its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The FNS Student Internship Program is open to a wide range of individuals, including those enrolled in qualifying bachelor’s degree programs. If you are seeking a career as a clinical nutritionist, the American Society for Nutrition offers a Clinical Nutrition Internship program.
Whatever type of dietetic career you are pursuing there is a nutrition internship that is right for you. Complete a nutrition internship and you’ll be well on your way to a successful career as a nutritionist or dietitian.