About SLU's Dietetic Internship Program
Saint Louis University (SLU) Dietetic Internship is a 10-month, post-baccalaureate certificate program designed to meet the minimum competencies for professional practice in dietetics, and provide preparation for the dietetic registration examination. Beginning in mid-August and concluding in May, the program provides a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised practice rotations in a variety of healthcare facilities in St. Louis and the surrounding areas. Dietetic Interns at Saint Louis University are required to complete twenty (20) credits of graduate coursework for internship completion. Individuals will apply didactic knowledge, develop clinical skills, and enhance professional behaviors through the unique experiences of this program.
The SLU Dietetic Internship accepts 34 interns annually into four concentration areas: Nutrition Therapy, Nutrition and Physical Performance, Pediatric Nutrition, and Public Health. The majority of the internship experiences will be similar regardless of concentration. The primary difference between the concentrations are in rotation site placement, rotation content, rotation lengths, staff relief assignments, and graduate course requirements. Upon program completion, the interns will have met the core and concentration specific competencies and be eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian (RD) professional examination.
A part of the dietetic internship at SLU consists of graduate coursework. Dietetic Interns must complete 20 hours of graduate credit for internship completion. More information on the graduate coursework included in the program can be found here.
Interns spend eight to twelve hours per week in the classroom (Monday Sessions as well as graduate coursework) and approximately 32 hours (Tuesday through Friday) in a supervised practice setting.
Below is a general breakdown of the Dietetic Internship program at SLU.
- Program Orientation (3 weeks)
- Program Workshops (2 weeks)
- Clinical Dietetics (13-14 weeks)
- Community/Public Health Nutrition (4-5 weeks)
- Pediatric/Geriatric Nutrition (4-5 weeks)
- Management (8-9 weeks)
- Management/Clinical Staff Relief (2/3 weeks)
- Vacation (2 weeks)
The Orientation component of the internship serves to familiarize the interns with the program goals, content, and expectations and to provide an introduction into clinical practice. During the three (3) week orientation, the interns are reintroduced to the theoretical and clinical application of the knowledge obtained during their undergraduate studies. The information given during this period is the basis for the clinical experience. Competency exams in medical terminology, basic biochemistry, and normal nutrition are given during orientation which interns must pass with 80% proficiency prior to beginning their clinical rotations.
There are approximately 12 rotations in the SLU Dietetic Internship. Each rotation lasts 1 to 3 weeks and focuses on a particular aspect of dietetics practice as related to a specific disease/condition, life-cycle stage, or population group. Site experiences provide the practical application of knowledge gained in the didactic sessions. Sites vary for each rotation; an intern may not be at the same clinical site for any two rotations.
The clinical rotations (13-14 weeks) include two-week rotations in diabetes, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, oncology, renal, nutrition support, and hepatobiliary.
The community rotations (9 weeks) include 2, two-week rotations in health promotions, federally funded nutrition programs, pediatrics, and geriatrics focused supervised practice. Sites vary for each rotation; an intern may not be at the same clinical site for any two rotations.
The management rotations (8 weeks) include one- to two-week rotations in distribution, production and cafeteria.
Management/Clinical Staff Relief
The management and clinical staff relief are completed after clinical and foodservice rotations are successfully completed. Each is completed over two- to three-week rotations. Interns are given the opportunity to manage the partial workload of clinical, community, and administrative dietitians. The staff relief experiences are designed to build confidence and to prepare the dietetic intern to work as an entry-level dietitian upon graduation.
Various comprehensive interactive workshops are included to enhance clinical rotations during the internship. Concentrated sessions in counseling, obstetrics/pediatrics, and RD exam preparations ensure the dietetic intern understands all areas of didactic practice. Additionally, the dietetic intern participates in full day, didactic sessions focused specifically on obesity, eating disorders, ethics, geriatrics, and nutrition support to expand and enhance application of didactic knowledge outside of the rotation sites.
Location of Rotation Sites
Dietetic Interns are responsible for commuting to clinical, community, and foodservice sites to complete the supervised practice hours. In order to accommodate all 34 SLU dietetic interns in this program, while also maintaining a highly individual experience for each intern, rotation sites vary in distance from the University. Rotation sites lie within the city limits, as well as in surrounding areas including Chesterfield, Creve Coeur, St. Peters, Clayton, Ballwin, etc. Additionally, interns may travel to Illinois to areas such as East St. Louis, Belleville, Granite City, Edwardsville, etc. Interns are required to provide their own transportation during the Dietetic Internship. If you do not have access to a car, the Metro Transit system of Saint Louis provides transportation, for a fee, via bus, train and call-a-ride.
Supervised Practice Requirement: A minimum of 1200 supervised practice hours is required for program completion in a variety of clinical, community, and foodservice sites to enable the dietetic intern to attain competence for entry level dietitians as outlined in the Standards of Education. The planned activities for each rotation, classes and special projects are minimum requirements for every intern.
Code of Ethics: Interns are expected to comply with the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Evaluation of professional development occurs throughout the program.
Performance Evaluation: All supervised practice rotations, projects, and presentations are evaluated using standard evaluation criteria. All evaluations use numerical system to determine that the intern has attained entry-level competence in that area. A minimum score of 80 must be achieved on all evaluations for successful completion of that competency and to meet requirements for graduation in the following.
Graduate Course Requirement: All interns must register for 20 graduate credits and successfully complete the courses with the grade of a B- or attainment of the Verification Statement.
Verification Statement: Upon successful completion of the dietetic internship, the graduate intern will receive a verification statement which enables them to establish eligibility to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians.