Nutrition-based health professionals are increasingly high in demand owing to the lucrative career opportunities and job satisfaction. To perfectly capitalise these professional trends, students who complete graduation and then masters or postgraduate diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics must enrol themselves in a hand-on internship to ensure the value-add on top of their post-graduation degree.
A nutritionist internship done from a reputed hospital can help in advancing the skillsets of fresh nutrition post-graduates along with preparing them for career advancement.
A professional internship after a regular master’s or postgraduate diploma course in Nutrition and Dietetics is an integral part of the curriculum that prepares the students to take on the clinical challenges later on in life.
As per a study, the industry-wide acceptance rate for nutrition graduates currently is around 50-60%, which means that for students, it becomes really crucial to differentiate themselves from the peers and that is when internship comes to play a vital role.
Generally, after the course completion, students are entitled to undergo an internship training of three months, which is a mandatory period, or six months at a hospital which is recognized by Indian Dietetic Association and has at least one registered dietician in the dietetics department. It should be a super speciality or multi-speciality hospital.
Registered dietician (RD) is a credential provided to professionals authorised by Indian Dietetic Association. Those who possess this credential are supposed to uptake certain specific academic and clinical practice requirements.
How will a nutritionist internship help students?
As per Indian Dietetic Association (IDA), clinical dieticians are trained professionals who handle medical nutritional therapy. The internship period of either 3 months or 6 months is going to help the candidate as follows:
- Assessment of patients’ nutritional status
- Determining nutritional needs of patients
- Planning normal and therapeutic diets
- Taking ward rounds to meet in-patients
- Participation in interdisciplinary team rounds/meetings to discuss patient cases and determine nutrition risks
- Development, implementation and evaluation of nutrition intervention
- Diet counselling during hospitalization and on discharge, based on patient’s condition
- Nutrition counselling, dietary recommendation, food selection and preparation of nutrition guidelines for out-patients both individuals and their families
- Diet counselling in specialised clinics like Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology, Paediatrics, Oncology, AIDS, Obesity, Neurology, Plastic Surgery, and so on
- Tasting the food prepared by the kitchen and giving feedback
Main objectives of a nutritionist internship
- To understand the functioning of the dietary department
- To gain knowledge and practical experience in the nutritional management of various disorders
- To gain experience in some aspects of food service management
- To develop expertise in various types of communication and soft skills
Detailed protocol for nutritionist internship
- A nutritionist internship is of a minimum of three months or a maximum of six months
- If a candidate wants to go for registered dietician (RD) tag, they must complete a total internship for 6 months which is equivalent to 26 weeks or 182 days
- The 6-month continuous internship can be done within the same hospital or can be divided into three months respectively in super speciality and multispecialty hospital
Other skills you will learn at a nutritionist internship
- Submission of research project or case study at the conclusion of internship
- Upgradation of knowledge of evidence-based dietetics
- Gathering work experience as hospital dietician for indoor patients of various hospital departments
- Gathering work experience and developing expertise I nutrition management and counselling of out-patients
- Counselling the patients
- Feedback and follow up’s to be done, regularly
- Documentation of the information
To give your nutrition career new wings, an internship is the most important aspect. It will give you the practical exposure on top of your theoretical knowledge and is surely going to open up many doors for a lucrative career opportunity including becoming an entrepreneur by your own self.