Dietetics Students: Are you wondering what NUTR 391 & 495 are all about?

Are you wondering what NUTR 391 & 495 are all about? If you are now a junior, you most likely have some questions about all of this.

These courses aim to assist you in developing a professional identity and to enhance your application to post-baccalaureate Dietetic Internships and pursue to the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (R.D.N.) credential. NUTR 391 (1 credit) is taken during Junior Year in the spring (semester 6), and leads into taking NUTR 495 (3 credits) the summer between Junior and Senior Year.

What is NUTR 391: Introduction to Professional Experience in Nutrition?

This course prepares you with an introduction to the professional skills necessary to obtain and complete an advanced field experience in nutrition.  You are taught about professional skills such as resume and cover letter writing, networking skills and resources pertinent to the dietetics profession, communication skills, use of social media in a professional context, and interviewing skills.  You are asked to research and identify potential field experience sites, interview at these sites, and determine the best site for you and the one that you will propose as your field experience. Completion of the Field Experience Proposal is the final project in this course. The Field Experience Proposal is a document that outlines duties, schedule, responsibilities, and terms of the field experience for you and your preceptor. Your Field Experience Proposal must be approved by your course instructor in order to begin the field experience in the summer.

What is NUTR 495: Advanced Field Experience in Nutrition?

The field experience is designed to provide a capstone experience in nutrition and its purpose is to enable you to gain practical experience in the nutrition and dietetics profession. You are able to apply your developing knowledge and skills in a professional setting by applying it to practical situations. You will meet other professionals and learn the expectations of a professional work environment. During this experience you will gain a better appreciation for key aspect of professional practice and the decision-making processes that occur in the day-to-day work environment.  The academic work in this course includes completion of journal reports, evaluations by your preceptor, and a final field experience report.

What are the requirements of field experience?

In order to be approved by your course instructor, your proposed field experience must outline and provide both observational and participatory experiences to meet field experience objectives, and meet the following two requirements.

  • Completion of 300 hours of field experience in nutrition and/or dietetics-related field in the setting of your choice (i.e. clinical, community, business/industry, wellness, foodservice, management, research.), anywhere in the United States.
  • Preceptor must be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (R.D.N.), or other qualified nutrition professional. Examples of the “other” credentials that are acceptable: PhD Nutritionist (i.e. PSU Faculty), Certified Dietary Manager (CDM), Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR).

Can I complete field experience hours at more than 1 site?

Yes. You are allowed to split 300 hours between a maximum of two sites if you choose to, or are unable to find a viable site in which to complete all 300 hours. Hours must be split equally between up to two sites (i.e. 150 hours at each). Research lab sites are limited to 150 hours. Please note that if you choose this option, you will be required to complete two field experience proposals in NUTR 391.

As a junior, is there anything I should be doing right now to prepare for NUTR 391/495?

Informally, you can spend time researching potential sites in your hometown. Most students do field experiences “back home” to minimize expenses since most opportunities are unpaid. You can consider the list of settings above for field experience and determine now if any of these options exist in your community at home.  It is appropriate to wait until NUTR 391 begins to start asking people for field experience. Your instructor will teach you the best way to do this. At this time, you will also gain access to the database of field experiences former students have completed.

Are there many opportunities in State College for field experience?

It is quite limited. As noted above, most students go home for the summer to find and complete field experience.

Stay tuned for upcoming weekly blog posts about students’ field experience last summer!

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