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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mulkern

A Look Inside My Dietetic Internship

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Take a peek inside what a dietetic internship looks like.

Everyone’s road to becoming a RD is different and there is no one way to get there. My road was pretty straight forward with a few minor turns along the way.

I started my journey straight out of high school — As an eager 18 years old girl, I was excited to get out of the house and gain new experiences. I had zero clue what was in store for me over the next 6 years. I packed my bags and headed 2 hours away to the University of Cincinnati where I was enrolled in the Dietetic program. Once I learned that I needed to complete an internship in order to be able to get my RD, I applied for UC’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics and thankfully was accepted! I finished my third year of college and dove head first into full time work as a dietetic intern.

Dietetic Internship Experience

I often get asked if the internship was hard. YES, it was incredibly hard. It will be one of the most difficult years of your career but it is truly the best way to prepare you for what’s to come.

My internship was 100% planned out for me by my Program Director. He met with each individual student to gain insight into their interests, strengths, and areas they were looking to grow to help best choose their intern sites.

In our program, your internship was divided up into 5 categories

  1. Acute or Hospital Rotation

  2. Community or Public Health Rotation

  3. Food Service Management Rotation

  4. Pediatrics or Long Term Care Rotation

  5. Specialty Rotations

Acute Rotation

My hospital rotation was done at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH from August 2017 - November 2017. I was so excited to get this placement! Getting the opportunity to spend 3 months working in a Level I Trauma Center is something that not every intern gets to experience. Each work week I got to work with different RD’s on different specialty floors. I worked on everything from the Neuro and Burn ICU’s, to Organ Transplant and Bariatric Surgery Clinics.

This rotation is going to be your most intimidating internship placement, by far! There is so much information to learn, in such a short amount of time but it’s so rewarding when you’re finished. I walked away with a binder stuffed full with valuable information from my preceptors. They are your greatest tool during these three months because they have been in your shoes and know exactly what you are going through.

Community Rotation

My Community Rotation was at The Center for Closing the Health Gap in Cincinnati, OH in January of 2018. This rotation was much shorter, only a few weeks long. I worked in an office setting with community health professionals and managed their Nutrition Trainer Program where they taught low income locals how to cook and prepare foods that are easy to prepare. I also gained good insight into field research.

Food Service Management Rotation

My food service management rotation was at the University of Cincinnati Dining Services! You may not think that working in the university dining halls was all that glamorous, and it wasn’t. However, it was really cool to see how the chef organized a menu, ran a kitchen, and ordered food for thousands of students. I also got to complete a Plate Waste Study with the UC Basketball team (a Plate Waste is required in your internship). I was at this rotation for almost 3 months (January - March) in 2018.

Pediatrics Rotation

My pediatric rotation was done at Children’s Hospital in Dayton, OH, this was actually an internship placement created specifically for me! My program director knew that I was interested in learning more about food marketing so he reached out to a culinary dietitian who was willing to take me on for a few weeks. For 4 weeks, I drove over an hour to Dayton, Ohio to work in the Children’s hospital cafeteria creating marketing materials for their digital marketing platforms, writing articles, hosting nutrition education classes, and reformatting their cafe pricing structure. This was the most interesting rotation because it was an insight into the untraditional pathway of dietetics.

Specialty Rotations

Last but not least are my two specialty rotations: 3 weeks at INFINIT Nutrition, LLC in Cincinnati, OH during November of 2017 & 2 weeks at UC Be Well - Human Resources in Cincinnati as well.

INFINIT Nutrition was arguably the most beneficial intern rotation I had because I landed a job with them after college (woo!). In fact, I am still employed with them right now as their Sponsorship Director. At INFINIT they create customizable liquid nutrition blends (i.e. sports drinks, meal replacements, protein shakes) for endurance athletes and chronically ill patients. You can read more about what they do for athletes here and the chronically ill here.

UC Be Well was essentially a benefit perk to being an employee at UC. All employees had access to health coaches who taught employees about topics like stress management, proper communication, nutrition tips, and more! It was really awesome to see a company care enough about their employees to create a corporate program like this.

About the Author

Ashley Mulkern, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters of Science in Nutritional Sciences and Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Cincinnati. She loves anything covered in chocolate, sprinkles, or butter. Her favorite things to do are exercising, baking, and reading.

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