Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
JacquiC

Dietetic Internship - Need Advice

Recommended Posts

I am a graduating senior at the University of Maine, I'll be receiving my B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition in just a few weeks.  I'm not sure how many people are familiar with dietetic internships, but they are required in order to become a registered dietitian (RD).  

 

I applied for an internships, and earlier this month I was matched to and accepted an internship in Baltimore (you can be matched to either one or zero programs).  My plan was to complete the year-long internship, then work as an RD to gain clinical experience before applying to PA school.  However, after running the numbers, this internship will end up setting me back between $15,000-20,000 since it is unpaid, and I will need loans for living expenses.  I know PA school will require a lot in loans, and I do not come from a very financially secure background.

 

Looking at my options, I'm now considering taking a gap year, during which I would take a CNA course (I have already taken an EMT class as well), and gain my clinical experience that way.  I'll be able to work to support myself, and also can take a couple of additional classes (genetics, other biology) to strengthen my application.  During that time I can also shadow PAs and physicians, and honestly take a little breather before jumping into a program full force.

 

Aside from my clinical experience, I have a very good GPA, community service, leadership experience, and almost all prerequisites completed.

 

Has anyone ever used RD hours as PCE?  I feel guilty because the internship program I was matched to is competitive, and a great program, but my passion just isn't there for the long run.  That, combined with the cost have me questioning my next step.  Any advice is welcomed and appreciated.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I graduated from UMaine with the same major and if you are considering PA and not sure about RD, I would not do the internship - the year you will spend and the money you will spend getting your RD isn't worth it unless you are sure you want to be an RD. I was extremely frustrated through much of my internship because you can't just focus on clinical nutrition, it's all the foodservice stuff and projects.....so if it's medicine you are interested in I would do MA or CNA, EMT, etc. My hours as an RD did count but it depends on your experience and what schools you apply to - good luck and feel free to ask any questions you might have! I'm almost through didactic year of PA school.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I graduated with a BS in Dietetics and also made the difficult decision whether or not to apply to dietetic internships. After a cost analysis and talking to current dietetic interns, I decided work experience would be more beneficial to my PA journey. While I'm very thankful for my nutrition background, I didn't have the drive to work as an RD that my classmates did, and I didn't want to take up an internship slot nor deal with food service rotations, etc.

 

In the end, I didn't apply to internships. Instead, I spent my gap year working as a med/surg CNA in a hospital (a great and very different hands on experience than my undergrad job working in a nutrition clinic). I applied this past cycle and am beginning PA school next month.

 

I feel if you wanted to work for an RD for several years before PA school it may be more worth it. Knowing I didn't ultimately want a career as an RD really helped me make my decision. Of course it's all personal opinion, so you have to decide what's most important to you. Good luck!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for your feedback, I guess it comes down to where my passions lie - in medicine.  I feel guilty that it took me this long to realize, but I don't think I would want to make the investment for something that isn't my end goal.  

 

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't need the internship to use your degree! Work as a nutritionist for WIC for a year. It will count as patient care hours, you get great exposure to public health, and it will give you some good background working with underserved populations. Plus it's a little more unique experience than the standard CNA, EMT, etc. I am biased because this is the route I took but it turned out well!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

amwillaert has a good point - if you know what schools you are interested in, contact them directly and see what they say about WIC experience (it does make you stand out in a different way) and you would probably make a bit more $....BUT if it is medical experience you want then this wouldn't cut it. Good luck and good for you that you did some soul searching before taking a DI spot form someone else - we NEED good RDs out there for our future patients and so many people don't get the chance due to the DI shortage! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it depends what they have you doing. I was in charge of obtaining all heights/weights, plotting those on a growth curve and interpreting results, reading results of hemoglobin and lead testing and making appropriate referrals based on results, and developing simple nutrition assessments and plans. It's not rocket science but it's certainly as much "patient care" as being a medical assistant. Still, since it is more nontraditional, it is probably worth contacting the programs you are most interested in and checking that they will count this for hours. I would be shocked if they didnt- I got lots of positive feedback for it on the interview trail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

20 year RD and 12 year PA here.  I worked in WIC and public health for most of my 20 year RD experience.  With that many years I had plenty of patient contact hours.  I spent about 2 years in clinical dietetics.

 

Could you find a job on a reservation where you  work as a nutritionist and an EMT/MA?  If you live close enough to one, or perhaps an IHS clinic in a large city, you would be able to use your nutrition skills and EMT skills. 

 

Just a thought.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on your internship match! ...I landed in a Coordinated Dietetics program, so I was fortunate to have both didactic and clinical during my undergrad. I worked as an inpatient dietitian for 8 1/2 years, then worked in Health Informatics for 10 years, and I start PA school in June. Even though my RD experience was old, and I don't have "hands-on" patient care experience (other than doing some triceps skinfold measurements), my program accepted my dietetics experience. I have a classmate who took a gap year like you're considering and worked as a CNA rather than finding a job in dietetics to get HCE and take remaining prerequisites, and she got right in to a PA program. Good luck with your journey!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to the Physician Assistant Forum! This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More