Here in April the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is celebrating all of the preceptors that help dietetic interns during their year long rotation. You may not know, but to become a Registered Dietitian you have to complete a year long, accredited internship. This process involves an application and matching process. So not all of the applicants who apply will get matched to an internship rotation site. It is a competitive process. During that internship year, you participate in different rotation sites and gain a variety of different experiences working with a variety of dietitians. All those people who help to teach future dietitians are an amazing group of preceptors. I have been impacted by such great preceptors during my internship back in 2010. I am still friends with some of those dietitians and I am so thankful that they were willing to take the time to teach me.
Most professions now that internships or other similar programs where professionals work to students to help teach them. I think this is such a great way to learn. As a professional, in any career area, I encourage you to volunteer and take a student. Work with them and encourage them as they go through schooling. Your work and time teaching these students help to create great employees in the future.
I included this graph above of the supply and demand of dietetic internships since 1993 until 2015. The yellow line on top is the dietetic students that are graduating from college. The blue line is the number of dietetic internship applicants. The green line is the number of dietetic internship applicants who are actually matched. I thought it was helpful to see that there are lots of students graduating with nutrition degrees, but a far less number actually become Registered Dietitian. In terms of the job market and preventing over-saturating the market, I am ok with this, but I think it is that much more important to work with these students and help create the best dietitians in our work force.
I have enjoyed working with the Coordinated Program in Dietetics through Purdue since I completed my internship back in 2011. I have been a preceptor for the last 7 years. I have also gotten to work with some IUPUI students and Ball State students over the years. It is rewarding to get to see these students learn and gain confidence. It is also exciting to be able to teach them about my passion for nutrition. I also love seeing these students apply and land their first jobs. It is neat to get to be part of that process and stay in touch with those students.
If you work in an area where you can serve as a preceptor and help teach students, take advantage of those opportunities. Thank you to all those Registered Dietitians who have served as preceptors over the years and for those who helped me get to where I am today as well. You all are amazing!