Making the Most of Your Distance Internship Program


If your dietetic internship match process was anything like mine, you applied for traditional programs because you found the concept of a distance program and finding your own preceptors a little uncomfortable. But match day came and went, you are now attending a distance or partially distance program, and you’re feeling a little lost. Here are some tips that helped me get through and thoroughly enjoy my partially distance dietetic internship.

Contact Your Director

I probably have contacted my directors once a week or more for the past year. Dietetic internship directors have a lot of information, and are there to help you. There may be dietitians who are always accepting your program students and would be happy to take you for a rotation. Your director can connect you with these people.

Contact Past Professors and Mentors

More than likely, you already have a great network of connections. Contact your DPD director, past professors or nutrition mentors to see if they are taking interns or know of dietitians who are. Use these connections to help you move forward in your career.

Attend Local Nutrition Meetings

If you are looking to complete rotations in a new area, contact the local dietetic association for their next meeting date. If you can’t attend the meeting, ask your new contacts if they know of any preceptors in the area.

Google Dietitians in the Area

Because I couldn’t rotate in my home or undergraduate school state, I had few connections to work with. So I searched for dietitians in different parts of the country and picked up the phone. I contacted about 15 a week for a month until I got replies for all of my rotations. This seems crazy, but taking initiative works.

Take Advantage of Family Connections

I also contacted family in other parts of the country and asked if I could move in for a few weeks or months. This was probably my favorite part of my internship — I spent a lot of quality time with family that I normally see once or twice a year.

Be Confident and Assertive and Have Fun

All of these ideas seem intimidating, I know. I never thought I would be able to set up rotations, walk into a place where I knew no one and make a lasting impression. But by being confident, jumping into projects and doing your best, you’re bound to do well. One of my four-week rotations threw me a surprise going away party and baked me a flourless chocolate cake. Talk about fun!

Stay on Top of Things

Find your rotations early, and follow up throughout the year until it is time for you to complete that rotation. I found my January through April rotations in late August. I wanted to be sure the contracts went through, and were ready to go when I was. I followed up prior to my start date and always emailed for final details the week before I arrived.

Know You Are Not Alone

You more than likely have a whole class of fellow interns that are going through the same process as you, and you probably have class or meetings once or twice a month. Take this time to participate and ask questions. This is a great way to get involved, show your directors you are interested and also make a friend or two.

There are so many amazing benefits to a distance or partially distance program. Making the Most of Your Distance Internship Program - Mine taught me to be an advocate for my education, and I learned more about myself this year than ever before. The thought of a distance internship made my normally shy undergraduate self very uncomfortable, but I am so grateful for this unique experience.

Sarah Tombo on Linkedin
Sarah Tombo
Sarah Tombo, RDN, is a Columbus, OH-based registered dietitian working in a long term care facility. She completed her dietetic internship at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, and received her Bachelor's Degree from Miami University in Ohio. Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.