How to Rock your Dietetic Internship during Uncertain Times

On March 6, 2020, I had an in-person interview for the one and only dietetic internship program I had applied to.

The truth was- I withdrew my application from two other programs after my brother passed away.  My dream program was at the University of Houston. The school my brother had planned to attend after his treatment. I can’t fathom returning to that city without him.

Talks about the coronavirus had already begun in the US by late January, but there was no pandemic when I sat in my interview.

The next week changed everything.

I began my one-year internship and master’s program in May 2020. Directors, interns, and preceptors swiftly shifted gears while being mindful of daily COVID numbers. 

I’ll say it again.

Getting into a dietetic internship is a big deal.

Getting into a dietetic internship during a global pandemic is still a big deal.

I would’ve never imagined the challenges a COVID-internship would entail. So many aspects of my day-to-day were at the mercy of COVID.

How to Rock your Dietetic Internship during Uncertain Times

Be Flexible

My rotations were both in-person and remote during the pandemic. Not all of my rotations sites were able to accommodate interns. With that being stated, I was still able to complete my hours and competencies for the program and perhaps gain skills I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I was able to intern virtually with the ONIE Project where I was able to utilize my nutrition communication skills to contribute to a blog post about summer salsas.

While many of my community rotations were virtual, my in-person rotation was at the OSU County Extension. There I learned more about food preservation through canning. I was able to attend a canning class with local students.

Some of my favorite rotations were with the Oklahoma Beef Council and Dairy Max. I find excitement in critically challenging some of the myths and misinformation about foods such as dairy and beef. These two rotations helped me challenge my own beliefs about agriculture.

Be Creative

Some days working from home was difficult. I found myself dreaming of the ambiance of a coffee shop — which was closed due to shelter-in-place orders. Creating a routine was the best way for me to stay on track and focused.  Video calls and Facetiming with fellow interns definitely helped maintain the sense of community to combat some of the isolating feelings. We also used it as a way to hold each other stay accountable and motivated.

During my virtual rotation at the Oklahoma Indian Clinic, I created nutrition education videos for the summer youth camps. I had never filmed and produced a video on my own, so I figured, why not now? If there is a time to learn (and possibly mess up) it would now.

I created seven videos covering the topic of MyPlate and Parts of a Plant to be used at the virtual summer camp.

Be a Leader

Sometimes leadership involves a change in mindset and saying yes to opportunities while figuring out the details as you go.

Working remotely gave me the opportunity to take charge of how I wanted to experience my dietetics internship. I was able to work independently and use time management skills to accomplish what needed to be done.

COVID truly tested interns at any chance it could. The 2020-2021 cohort of healthcare practitioners I may never be able to put into words.

We’ve hit the ground running and I believe these experiences will make each of us successful dietitians!

I am happy to be on the other end of the internship!

I wish you luck in completing yours!

Dietetic Internship Must-Haves

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Edited January 18, 2021

So, you’re about to start your dietetic internship? I am sure several dietitians and RD2Bes have given you ideas of what you need to be successful.

Between the immunizations, internship handbooks, eNCPT, and everything else in between, I wanted to share some of my dietetic internship must-haves with links.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. I recommend you read or listen to this one before you start. While it takes the whole book to see how everything is tied together, I thought this was an important read to learn how to communicate with people who are from different backgrounds than myself.

Clever Fox Planner Premium Edition. This is seriously the last planner you’ll need. I’ve ALWAYS been a pen & paper type of gal. I like how Clever Fox has un-dated calendar pages so you can start your planner any time of the year. During clinical rotation, I like to write down how many patients I see each day so I can see how much I’ve improved day-to-day. Clever Fox helps guide you to set goals every quarter, reflect each month, and track progress.

Clarks Women’s Sharon Dolly Loafer. Do you like walking on clouds? Because the only answer is yes. The style I purchased is out of stock, but these are my everyday clinical shoes because they are equally comfortable and functional! I get so many compliments wearing them.

The Essential Pocket Guide for Clinical Nutrition” target=”_blank”>The Essential Pocket Guide for Clinical Nutrition. This is a great reference guide for interns. I keep this on my desk and it helps guide my ADIME notes. It fits perfectly in my lab coat pocket and I love that each chapter includes sections on disease process, treatment and nutritional intervention, and patient education.

Lintelek Smart Watch. You need a watch! Don’t rely solely on your phone because… you’re the intern and being on your phone is kind of a faux pas. So, just get a watch and save yourself the trouble. This is not as fancy as an Apple Watch, however, if you’re on a tight intern budget, it’ll do. This watch gives you the capabilities to receive text notifications and calculates your steps.

Fruit Lanyard. Who doesn’t need a cute fruit lanyard?

Hydro Flask Tumbler Cup. I need coffee every morning to get me going, and my Hydro Flask keeps my coffee hot for up to 6 hours.

Other Essentials:


Uni-ball Signo Inks Pens

Face Masks depending on the hospital, these may be provided, but sadly, I wouldn’t count on it (interns aren’t always privy to “employee benefits”)

Notebook – You won’t remember everything. May I suggest, writing it down? I like to use the notebooks with blank pages so I can draw pictures and diagrams, if I need to.

Shoe In-soles – You need these for management rotation.

Best of luck on this fantastic journey! What are some items you would add?

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