The second major requirement to becoming an RD is to match to a dietetic internship. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) regulates and audits internship programs. So as a dietetics student you research all of the available internships and choose which programs you are going to apply to. I have gotten so many questions about my the application process and so I hope this post can help answer some of those questions.
The first place to start is AND’s website. It has links to all of the available internships and has some capabilities for sorting out the programs. But you’re going to have to do more digging, as the site doesn’t provide a lot of information for each program.
When I started looking at the internships, I knew I couldn’t move out of Maryland. And I wanted to start in January 2018, so I wouldn’t have a gap after graduation in December 2017. So I needed a distance based internship that participated in Fall match.
When you start looking into internships, ask yourself a few questions to narrow down the programs you’ll research further. You’ll have to decide on if you want to complete a distance program or a traditional program. With distance internships, you find your own preceptors. Traditional programs assign you to different locations.
I created an excel that listed all of the programs participated in fall match. From there, documented all of the requirements and details for each of these programs. And that helped me narrow it down to three internships – Iowa State Nationwide Internship, University of Houston Distance Program, and Keith and Associates Distance Internship (KADDI).
If you’re interested in the spreadsheet, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it to you.
Finding Preceptors for Distance Dietetics Internships
The biggest challenge to a distance internship is finding preceptors. What this means is you have to find at least three locations that are willing to host you as an intern. You have to find a community location, clinical rotation, a foodservice location, and a location for your concentration rotation. KADDI’s concentration is business and entrepreneurship.
And if you’re a fellow distance intern or you’re currently searching for preceptors, you are probably nodding your head. And could share about how hard you worked to find your preceptors.
All the programs that I was applying to required you to have your preceptors identified prior to applying. So I started looking for my preceptors in March 2017. Which gave me 7 months since applications were due September 25. This may seem like a long time but I had to make over 100 calls/emails to find all of my preceptors. I know because I kept track on my lovely spreadsheet.
It is a challenge to find preceptors but I also loved the idea of being able to have some choice in where I would be doing my rotations.
DICAS and D&D Digital
For non-dietetics students, that heading makes no sense. But AND uses two online portals for the application and match process. DICAS (Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Services) is the application portal.
I don’t know how many hours it took me to complete the application process but my guess is at least 60 hours. The application process requires you to enter courses, grades, jobs, volunteer hours, honors, and other detailed information about you. It requires you to request transcripts, get letters of recommendations, upload your resume, and to complete personal statements for each program that you’re applying to.
DICAS is only open for about 2 months each match period. So I say get started as soon as it opens.
D&D Digital is the online portal that applicants use to choose and rank the internships they are applying to. Each internship is assigned an unique code and you rank these on D&D and then go back to DICAS and input that special code. That way your application and program choices are connected. Maybe one day, AND will combine and make one website.
My Top Choice
Keith and Associates Distance Dietetic Internship was my top choice. The application for KADDI includes getting your preceptors to sign agreements, creating your own schedule for your rotations, and an online aptitude test that will be used when making ranking decisions.
I have gotten a lot of questions from other students about the aptitude test so hopefully this helps. The reason KADDI requires the aptitude test is because they understand that grades aren’t everything. And they understand there are multiple factors that go into an application. So they want to see where you are and if you have potential for passing the RD exam.
They are looking for scores over 60% on the aptitude test. I didn’t study for it due to lack of time. After you receive the link from KADDI, you have 48 hours to take the exam. I scored 78% and I believe average for my cohort was around 73%. It was very challenging but doable.
Matching to an Internship
When the application period closes, internships are given access to your DICAS application. And they rank you. If their ranking and your ranking match, you match to an internship.
Match Day was November 5 (yes, you have to wait over a month from when you turn in your application to finding out if you get an internship or not). I invited friends over all day so I would be distracted because not only do you want a month but match results don’t come out until 7 pm.
At 7 pm, I logged onto D&D Digital and saw that I was matched to KADDI!
You are only matched to one internship and cannot match to multiple programs.
If you don’t match on the first round, there is a second round of matching but I am not as knowledgeable about this. But several of my fellow interns at KADDI, did not apply to KADDI during 1st round but did apply during 2nd round and got selected.
After Match Day
After Match Day, you have 24 hours to accept your internship. If you didn’t get matched, then those programs participating in 2nd round will announce and have access to applications.
KADDI started sending us information just a few weeks after Match Day. We had a long list of things we had to do prior to our start date. All internships require vaccinations, CPR certification, ServeSafe Certification, and a physical confirming that you’re healthy enough to complete the internship.
KADDI has an unique pre-orientation rotation that includes 120 hours of case studies that you do at home. Since I just completed this, check-back for a post about what we had to do.
Match to a Dietetic Internship
The application process is not easy. It requires a lot of work and requires you to pay attention to a lot of details. I am happy to answer any questions you have. Feel free to post in the comments or send me an email.