Thanks to My Preceptor

April is National Preceptor Month! Preceptors make a difference in the lives of students who are learning to become registered dietitian nutritionists or dietetic technicians, registered by acting as mentors and training the dietetic professionals of the future. Learn how to get involved in the future of the profession.


Just over two years ago, in March 2013, I spent the best four weeks of my internship in Athens, Ala., and I owe it all to the best preceptor an intern could ask for.

I was on my child nutrition program director rotation, in which I would be working alongside a school district's foodservice director. I had been looking forward to the rotation for pretty much the entire internship, which was only amplified by getting to work with the best director in the South, Tandy Norris. (I can’t say the country, since I’ll be the best in the North!)

I had first met Tandy at a conference before my rotation started, but we didn’t talk much before I actually arrived. But starting right on my first day, Tandy and I hit it off. I immediately felt like I had known her for years: We seemed to share the same sense of humor, philosophy on child nutrition and personality. I knew this rotation would be one I would hope never ended.

Over the course of my time in Athens I was able to learn a lot from Tandy and she made sure to introduce me to every aspect of the department and job. After working with her for four weeks, I felt that I could work as a CNP director, and she re-established my feeling that this is the field I want to work in.

My last day at the office was the very definition of the word "bittersweet." The warmth and welcoming I felt with all of the staff in Athens made it all the more difficult to leave. I can’t lie, I got a little misty-eyed as I made the drive back to Montgomery, knowing I may never see these wonderful people again.

But I have kept in contact with Tandy and truly appreciate everything she has taught me about life, nutrition and more. Thank you Tandy. You will forever be my mentor and friend!

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Emily Cooper, RD, LD
Emily Cooper, RD, LD, is a New Hampshire-based dietitian. She maintains a health and wellness blog, Sinful Nutrition to share recipes, fitness, and all things health related. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.