Beginning this fall, the WKU Department of Family & Consumer Sciences within the College of Health and Human Services will offer a Dietetic Internship Program. Successful completion of this nine-month internship program will result in eligibility to take the national dietetic registration exam and a Graduate Certificate in Dietetic Practice.
The extreme shortage of internships available in this field nationwide is the driving force behind this program. In the past three years, only 50 percent of those who apply for dietetic internships are placed. By developing this program, administrators hope not only to increase intern placement but also to generate more registered dietitians for the western region of Kentucky.
According to WKU Family and Consumer Sciences Department Head Dr. Doris Sikora, “Projections for registered dietitians have indicated a shortage of 18,000 by 2020. In addition, many employers in western/south central Kentucky have had difficulty filling open positions for RDs.”
The program will accept 10 interns each academic year, with the first cohort beginning fall 2012. Students will complete 32 weeks of supervised practice at designated healthcare sites throughout Kentucky, focusing on Medical Nutrition Therapy, Community Nutrition, and Foodservice Systems Management. This hands-on training will be done in conjunction with online graduate courses in each corresponding area.
“The internship will provide the student interns with opportunities to acquire the competencies necessary to function as entry-level practitioners and to become eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians,” Program Director Jane Simmons said.
In addition to supervised study and online curriculum, interns will be required to attend a one-week orientation class, which will precede the start of the University fall semester. During he last week of the internship, the program will culminate with intern presentations and case studies.
The Western Kentucky University Dietetic Internship has been granted candidacy for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The graduate certificate is designed for students who have completed an undergraduate Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) and have been accepted into the WKU Dietetic Internship. Students interested in the WKU Dietetic Internship will be required to apply online using a national centralized application system. However, for the first year (2012-2013), students will submit their applications directly to the program director.
For more information, visit http://www.wku.edu/facs/dieteticinternship or contact Jane Simmons, Program Director at (270) 745-5224.