American Society For Nutrition

Confessions of a Dietetic Intern

Confessions of a Dietetic Intern

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 07/23/2010 at 05:29:05 PM by Student Blogger
By: Emily C.

By the time this post is published, I will have finished my dietetic internship or the 1200 hour practicum that is required to sit for the examination to become a registered dietitian. Since I have been fortunate to experience both the research and clinical sides of nutrition, I thought I'd share some of my reflections from the past 10 months.

Nutrition research should be fueled by passion for people. It was really exciting to see nutrition research translated into clinical practice and a good reminder of why we research…not for accolades or recognition but to improve nutrition-based treatment and better the lives of others through our findings.


Working in a nutrition field requires constant learning. Part of my internship included learning about sustainability and growing produce to support SLU's local-food focused cafe, Fresh Gatherings. I also taught nutrition education lessons to public school children in the St. Louis area, which always included a garden component. Let's just say I have a black thumb, and this was quite a challenge for me.


Nutrition is an art. Sometimes we get caught up in subject number and statistical significance, but we must be able to take our research findings and translate them into an accessible form for the general public. We're constantly bombarded with mixed messages from the media, and it's our responsibility as dietitians and nutrition professionals to creatively promote and clarify evidence-based information.


It always helps to see things from someone else's perspective. This photo was taken during geriatric day, where we each assumed a physical limitation characteristic of the elderly while eating lunch. Taking a different point of view increases understanding in both research and clinical practice.  After you've eaten your entire lunch blindfolded, you start to understand why the elderly with vision problems are at nutritional risk.


Your colleagues are your allies. The dietitian network is incredibly intertwined and close-knit. Collaboration with other nutrition professionals is invaluable; I cannot tell you how many times I worked with dietitians to collectively find an answer to a nutrition-related problem. In addition, I formed friendships with the 33 other dietetic interns who will soon become my colleagues in the nutrition field [yes, our shirts do say fiber, it moves us]!


Throughout my time as a dietetic intern and experience in nutrition research, I have come to appreciate the “why” behind our current recommendations and become increasingly passionate about the “who” or the people in need of improvement in nutritional status. To me, nutrition research and application through clinical practice are of equal importance, and no matter what focus I choose when I graduate, I'm incredibly humbled and honored to have been a part of both.

Emily, I love reading your blog entries. Congratulations on completing this part of your adventure.

Posted Jul 26, 2010 3:16 PM by Laurie

Your comments about being able to effectively care for and communicate your findings to your audience rings true in all life. ' People don't care what you know until they know that you care'. Congratulations on finishing your internship and becoming a RD!

Posted Jul 26, 2010 6:05 PM by Nancy Baker

Congratulations, Emily. You have had a couple of intense years. I hope you are able to relax and enjoy this time while you are looking for the next chapter of life to unfold. Your blindfolded lunch reminded me of one of my favorite quotes -"a change of perspective is worth 40 IQ points". Take care.

Posted Jul 28, 2010 9:42 AM by Paula

Congrats on completing your internship! I enjoyed your blog post.

Congratulations on your achievements. Nutrition is truly undervalued in the US presently.

Emily, again, sincere congrats. What wonderful insights-ones that I am striving to understand and appreciate myself. I like what you say about nutrition as an art, a field of science that must be creatively applied to daily living. I also like what you mentioned about true motivation for nutrition research. thank you.

Congratulation Emily, two thumbs up for you. We need so many people like you, north America is becoming a shame when it comes to nutrition. Your mission is to communicate your knowledge to as many peoples as you can. Its just the begining of your journey.

Your passion for the work and the good it will provide to all the lives you will touch is laudable. I wish you well in your career. That you've already discovered the value of seeing things with someone else's perspective is a sign you're ahead of the game already. Good luck.