Summer—Interns work on medical vocabulary, clinical worksheets, and a clinical case study; individual placement sites may assign additional pre-internship assignments.
Orientation—The first week of the program is orientation. Activities include: explanation of schedules, expectations, policies and procedures; presentations by faculty and registered dietitian preceptors to review clinical nutrition; and problem-based classroom activities to prepare interns for rotations. The second week serves as an introduction to Sustainable Food Systems. This varies from year to year but has included work on a community CSA farm, talks by registered dietitians using sustainable food production methods in nutrition education, and a field trip to Ann Arbor, MI, this past year virtual, to visit several farms where RDs play major roles.
Practicum—The majority of experiential learning takes place during supervised practice ("rotations") at clinical, food service, school, wellness, and community nutrition sites. Interns work 40 hours a week on site, occasionally more. A curriculum for each major rotation is provided and consists of activities that will ensure completion of learning outcomes required by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Interns are expected to come prepared for the day’s work, so completing assigned readings and assignments, as well as any self-directed remedial work, on evenings and weekends is expected. Interns earn six graduate credits for completing these 1200 hours of supervised practice. Since March 2020, the program has made adjustments, when necessary, to provide virtual supervised practice if a site can no longer host the intern in person because of COVID-19. The number of supervised practices hours may also need to be adjusted because of this, but the program will help interns meet at least the minimum 1000 hours required by ACEND and strive toward 1200 hours if possible.
Didactic programs—These are generally scheduled one day each month. Programs include field trips, group projects, and presentations by registered Dietitians and other professionals on topics of interest in all areas of dietetic practice. Interns present clinical case studies at this time.
Case study—Each intern prepares a major clinical case study, both written and oral, during the clinical rotation. This is presented both to fellow interns and to registered dietitians at the intern’s clinical site.
Written and oral presentations—Interns prepare a variety of written and oral presentations to clients, patients, staff, fellow interns, dietitians and other health care professionals throughout the internship.
Professional development—Twenty-four hours of professional development activities are required during the program. These activities include, but are not limited to, attendance at the Gordon Food Show, the Michigan Nutrition and Dietetic Association Annual Conference, and Southwest Michigan District Dietetic Association meetings. Most meetings have gone virtual since Spring 2020, which actually makes them more accessible.
Enrichment rotation—At the end of the internship two weeks are reserved for interns to explore individual interests. This may be done anywhere as long as a Registered Dietitian is willing to supervise the experience. The experience must also be pre-approved by the program director.
Wrap-up week—The final week of the internship includes preparation to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians and introduction to the Professional Development Portfolio process for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.
Graduate courses—In addition to the above, interns take three 3-credit hour graduate courses during the internship year. The third graduate course is taken online and finishes approximately three weeks following the end of the internship. These nine graduate credit hours plus six graduate credit hours earned during the internship practicum meet the first 15 credits towards Master of Arts in Family and Consumer Sciences with dietetics emphasis. Those who complete the internship and the first 15 to graduate credits have an additional five years to complete the master's. However, they must take and pass the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist before January 1, 2024, if they have not earned their master's by then.