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The Importance of Clinical Experience for Getting Into an Internship: Helpful, yes. Absolutely Necessary, no

September 6, 2011

Hi everyone.  There seems to be some confusion about the importance of undergraduate dietetic students getting clinical experience before they apply to a dietetic internship program.  Some students are under the impression that having clinical experience is required to get into a dietetic internship.  That isn’t the case.  No question, clinical experience is a very desirable thing to have but not a necessary thing to have.   Although Internship Selection Committees place a lot value on applicants having experience in a clinical setting, they understand that isn’t always possible or reasonable based on access to such experiences.   Consequently, there are other ways in which students can demonstrate they have what it takes to thrive in a dietetic internship.  For example, working or interning in any professional environment including a bank. lawyers office, politician’s office can provide a wonderful learning opportunity.  Another is getting involved in undergraduate research projects and presenting findings at local, state, or national conferences.   The bottom line is get clinical experience if you can.  If you can’t, get experience in another type of professional environment.  If you can’t do that, then volunteer or work in any environment that focuses on health and diet such as a summer camp for kids with diabetes.    In the end, whether you get into a dietetic internship or not will hinge primarily on your GPA, numerous and varied extracurricular experiences, and the strength of recommendations from nutrition and other health professionals.  Be of good cheer!

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