Welcome from the DI Program Leadership
DI Virtual Tour
ED-TEP Concentration and The Emily Program
MNT Concentration with M Health Fairview
Tell us about your current position and how the U of M DI prepared you for the position
- Working at The Aliveness Project as the RDN. They are a federally funded health care facility for persons living with HIV/AIDS in MN. As the RD, I provide MNT to members and link them with food assistance programs. In MN there is an insurance program through DHS that allows for funding for nutritional supplements (ensure/boost, etc) that the RD is able to write prescriptions for (no MD necessary). Therefore, my work is truly balanced between clinical and community nutrition. During my internship, I had a lot of great MNT and clinical experience that provided me with the clinical judgement I needed to serve my patients. Additionally, I did my staff relief at the West Bank mental health inpatient side that helped me to learn how to work with persons in crises and with confounding issues such as substance abuse and homelessness. I spoke about this in my interview, and it really helped to show my understanding of this population.
- I am currently deciding on one of a couple positions that were offered to me in the clinical setting. The U of M prepared me for these positions by providing a wide range of patients and professional experiences. Because I have practiced in so many settings it calms my nerves and makes me confident that I can start as an RD in any setting. There is a lot of pressure and a high workload as an intern, so after completing this internship it is so fulfilling and a true confidence boost that you can do anything!
What do you feel was most valuable from your DI experience?
- All of the endless experiences. Within the East & West bank hospitals, there were so many high acuity patients and amazing providers. Since they are also a teaching hospital, they are very accepting (and expect) you to take initiative and learn more.
- My most valuable experience was participating in so many unique clinical rotations. I am also blessed to say that at UMMC I saw so many interesting and high acuity patients as well as worked with so many amazing preceptors. This really helped me widen my critical thinking skills and exposure to medical and nutrition diagnosis. The entire internship gave me so many scenarios and highlights that I could use and explain during job interviews!
Were you able to have an outside job when you were in the internship, and if so how did you balance both obligations?
- I did not have an outside job. I had the privilege to live in the cities with my family and they supported me.
- I was not able to have a job outside of the internship. With homework and being in rotations for 8 hours a day, I personally could not handle anything else on the side. I am not saying it is not possible, however I wanted to prioritize my emotional and physical health by giving myself a break to do other things outside of being an intern/work.
What advice do you have for any prospective interns to be successful during the internship?
- The biggest advice I have is to utilize every opportunity that is given to you or available. Ask every question. Ask to see patients you might not be assigned but know would be a great experience. Ask the reasoning behind a dietitian's interventions. Ask to follow/shadow other health care professionals such as Speech Language Pathologists. Fully immerse yourself in the experience, because this is the time to learn. With that and within reason, fully immerse yourself in the outside work. Do the additional research with homework, ask questions within the class day presentations. There are so many small experiences available to you that could lead you to a bigger path (such as me asking to cover the mental health inpatient staff relief instead of my original assignment, and obtaining valuable experience for my current job).
- My best piece of advice for being successful during the internship is to make the most of it! That is kind of broad, but for me I took every rotation (whether it was good, challenging, not an interest of mine, ect) and tried to keep an open mind and take everything and anything I could from it. You will get homework and assignments from your preceptors, but also ask your own questions or even ask for more materials and how you can be a better professional if you were to ever pursue that unit/specialty as a future RD. Some other advice I have is to do daily morning affirmations, reminding yourself that you are here for a reason, you are smart, brave and to always take it one day at a time. Lastly, what helped me remember the good/challenging/highlights of everyday in each rotation was journaling in the notebook the DI directors provided us. I would reflect on my progress and write down personal goals for the next day or questions I had thought of after the day was over. This is fun to still look back on and read to see how far I have come as well as use those scenarios in preparing for job interviews!
What do interns like most about the internship?
The opportunity to apply what we have learned in school and work with nutrition in a professional setting! Interns really like how many different rotations there are in this internship as it gives us new perspectives on the many career paths we can have as registered dietitians. Also, the guest speakers that come to class present very interesting topics that open doors of nutrition that interns have not previously considered.
What is the most challenging part about the internship?
The most difficult part for many interns is consistently changing rotations once you are getting comfortable in the current rotation. Learning to adapt quickly can be a challenge because you want to learn as much as you can in the short time you are there. However, it is very helpful to have other interns to talk to who understand and get ideas on how to adapt quickly and make the difficult part of this internship not so difficult.
What makes a successful intern?
One very important way to be successful is to always come prepared – complete the pre-homework and bring any required items. Also, the best advice I can give is not to be afraid to ask questions! Your preceptors want you to learn and succeed. I have found my preceptors are very open to answering questions. Also, if there is something you would like to learn or observe, make sure to talk to your preceptor about it.
What does a typical day in the internship look like?
Honestly, there is no typical day! It really depends on your rotation. On any given day you could be working in a hospital making chart notes, planning a theme meal with hospital nutrition services, or making educational materials for the players of a professional athletic team.
What does a typical day of class look like?
Classes vary, but usually a guest speaker will come and talk about a specific subject in nutrition that is foundational to the field, such as physical assessments, or more specific areas of nutrition, such as solid organ transplants. Other class topics include case study presentations by interns, RD exam preparation, and career preparation workshops. The classes are designed to give interns new insights and perspectives on the field of nutrition as well as prepare them for their future careers as dietitians.
What was something unexpected that interns learn during their internship?
How cultural backgrounds play a huge role in food! This is something that isn’t necessarily new, however there are certain traditions and/or beliefs that may not be as familiar. For example, in Hmong culture when a woman has given birth, she will go on a diet that consists of only chicken, rice, and water. Learning about these cultural differences is a good reminder to keep an open mind.
Does having a variety of rotations help interns choose a career path as a dietitian?
Yes! You may find that you are quite interested (or disinterested!) in an area that you weren’t aware of previous to that rotation.
Why choose this DI program compared to others?
This internship provides certain rotations that are unique such as pediatrics and sports nutrition which are both very valuable experiences. Also, having the MNT Concentration at M Health Fairview is a great opportunity to work with other disciplines that are pioneering in their fields and always striving for better care for patients. The partnership with The Emily Program gives the ED-TEP interns the opportunity to learn from a variety of dietitians who specialize in eating disorders and gain a better understanding of eating disorder treatment.
Would you recommend taking a gap year between graduation and applying to the DI?
It depends on your situation! Some interns find it helpful to take a gap year in order to save money and gain additional experience. Also, the application process may be less stressful because there is no schoolwork to work around. Others find it easier to go directly from college to the internship when all the information is fresh in our minds. There really is not a right or wrong answer, do whatever works best for you!
Is it possible to maintain a part-time job while completing the internship?
It is possible! Most interns who work during the internship have a casual position at a hospital such as Fairview or Abbott as diet techs, nutrition service associates, and/or nutrition aides. However, there are interns that have had serving jobs for a few years and are able to work out a flexible schedule with managers.
Do interns get together outside of the internship?
We try! It is always fun to get to know other people who are passionate about the same thing. In previous years, interns have planned potlucks and Christmas parties. This year has been a bit more difficult, but we try to stay connected with a group chat and will hopefully be able to safely meet up later in the year.
How do interns get to and from rotations?
Interns are responsible for providing their own transportation. It is recommended that you have a car as some rotations are farther away than others. For some rotations you may be able to use public transportation.
Does the internship provide housing?
Interns are responsible for finding their own housing. If you have questions about housing, reach out to program leadership. Also, you can try reaching out to fellow interns if you are looking for a roommate. Each program year, interns start a Facebook group, so this is also an opportunity for out of state interns to ask questions to those already living in Minnesota.
Can you take out a loan for the internship?
You can take out a personal loan from the bank or a private lender (one example is Navient). However, you may not always get the loans you expect so it is best to plan ahead. Also, if you have current loans you have the option of forbearance or deferment of loans to ease up on monthly payments.
Loan for program fee: In most cases, credit unions are unable to provide academic loans. Wells Fargo is one example of a bank which, after clarifying the purpose of the loan, has been approved for interns in the current class.
Loan deferment: Speak with your individual loan servicer who should provide the paperwork. This year, interns were successful in obtaining forbearance by using the "Medical or Dental Internship/Residency Forbearance Request" (Form # 1845-0018). This allows loan payments to be deferred until program completion (no interest is collected during this time for such deferment). Although federal forms may change, so be sure to clarify if this form is still the one to use in successive years. It takes about 21 days to go through once submitted.