I’m back with the next step in my journey to becoming a registered dietitian…getting my B.S. in Food and Nutrition. It feels like this step happened such a long time ago (let’s be honest it DID), so I will try my best to be helpful!
The first step is finding a college or university that offers the major you are looking for. The names for the major vary…Nutrition, Food and Nutrition, Nutrition Sciences, Food Science. When you are researching schools, the website will most likely indicate whether the program is a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). DPD is a term used by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education to describe the program approved under the Standards of Education as meeting academic requirements to achieve a bachelor’s degree in this field. This is an example of what it might say on the website, “A graduate will attain a verification statement upon completing the CADE-approved dietetics program curriculum in addition to a minimum of a “C” or better in each required program course at graduation. A graduate is then eligible to apply for a CADE-accredited supervised practice/dietetic internship or other post-baccalaureate experience.”(www.montana.edu) I definitely did not understand this when I started college…it’s probably best to email the school to make sure that the program will prepare you and make you eligible to apply to a dietetic internship upon graduation.
Once you pick your school and get accepted, you can start tackling all of the classes that need to be taken prior to graduation. Every school will require slightly different courses, so I won’t go too much into this part. Just make sure you find an advisor that you can meet with each semester to make sure you stay on track—it can be really confusing! Some of the classes you will see on your “required” list are chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, micronutrient metabolism and medical nutrition therapy. (Organic chemistry and micronutrient metabolism were two classes that were very challenging for me!)
During your senior year, you will likely have a class that focuses on pursuing your career in dietetics. I hope every school offers a class like this because it helped me figure things out for sure! Your professors and advisors will be your best resource during the confusing/stressful process of applying for an internship.
My advice during your undergraduate days is to soak up all of the information that you can! Also, keep your grades up…many internships require a 3.5 or greater to be considered. If possible, try to work in the field of nutrition as much as possible. Any work experience in the field of nutrition looks great on your application…waitressing/cooking, research/lab/teaching assistant for a nutrition course, sanitation jobs on campus, and lots of other options! And, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! Volunteering in the field of nutrition and in other areas is very rewarding, very educational and looks REALLY good on your applications! Lastly, ENJOY your college days! You can definitely work toward your future career goals while having a great time and making lifelong memories!
Okay, I think that covers the nutrition degree portion of becoming an RD. Next, I will talk about the internship application process and things to look at before choosing an internship! Any other RDs out there that have any advice about the college days of becoming an RD?? Please share!