Rotations Offered by the Penn State Dietetic Internship

Community Nutrition Rotation

Community nutrition programs are becoming an increasing interest for dietetic professionals. The Penn State dietetic internship offers many opportunities for interns to explore these programs.

In this ten-week rotation, interns will be working with:

  • Cooperative Extension
  • WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program
  • GIANT Foods Store

The learning experiences during the four-week Cooperative Extension experience range from food demonstrations to developing educational materials for lower-income children and adults.

During the four-week WIC experience, interns will spend one week at the WIC state office and the remaining three weeks at a WIC clinic. This will provide an excellent overview of these important community programs.

A two-week rotation in the supermarket setting provides interns an opportunity to broaden their knowledge of food products and marketing. During the two weeks spent at a GIANT Foods Store in the Harrisburg area, interns conduct food demonstrations and connect customers to nutrition information as they shop. Opportunities for registered dietitians in this segment are increasing and the exposure will give interns an overview of these career opportunities.

Medical Nutrition Therapy Rotation

The eighteen-week medical nutrition therapy rotation will take place at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Hershey Medical Center is a 507-bed tertiary-care teaching hospital providing specialized services in internal nutrition, oncology, renal disease, cardiology, and pediatrics to residents of central Pennsylvania. The medical center's nutrition staff includes sixteen registered dietitians, half of which have completed advanced degrees. Interns will receive approximately thirty didactic hours of training in medical nutrition therapy at this site under the supervision of the clinical coordinator. The rotation will provide interns with practical experience in nephrology, trauma/critical care, and pediatric units. Theory and didactic experiences will be incorporated into the practical experiences through interactive learning, case studies and special projects.

Management Rotation

Management skills are imperative for future professionals in the nutrition and dietetic field. In this ten-week rotation, interns will be working with:

  • Masonic Village of Elizabethtown
  • One of the following School Systems:
    • Derry Township- Hershey, PA
    • Donegal School District- Mount Joy, PA
    • Northeastern School District- Manchester, PA

Interns will spend 5-weeks at Masonic Villages in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. This continuing care retirement community is located on more than 1,400 acres of Lancaster County farmland. The facility accommodates 1,600 residents with living arrangements from apartments and cottages to skilled nursing care.

In this rotation, interns will receive a comprehensive experience while rotating through the state-of-the-art cook/chill facility, several of the dining rooms available to the residents, and various kitchens throughout the campus. Interns will learn the complexities of forecasting, ordering, and purchasing for a large health care facility. In addition, they will assist in sanitation inspections, employee training, quality control, and customer services.

A five-week school nutrition rotation emphasizes the unique aspects of food service management important to this field. Interns will be able to experience the unique challenges and opportunities in this important segment of the dietetics field working alongside Food Service Directors. Interns will also have a week dedicated to development of a Business Plan on a topic of relevance to the school district assigned.

Research Rotation

The goal of the research rotation of the Penn State Dietetic Internship program is to provide dietetic interns with a comprehensive overview of nutrition research, emphasizing the importance of translational nutrition research and its application to public health and dietary recommendations. This rotation is in total of two-weeks, but scheduled within the clinical rotations.

The registered dietitian plays a significant role in synthesizing research outcomes and communicating this information to the general public. The research rotation is designed specifically to assist the intern with understanding the research process. Interns will participate in research studies, write a research proposal and participate in journal clubs at The Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center and Penn State University College of Medicine. In addition a day will be spent at the Main Campus in University Park to become familiar with various research settings.

Enrichment Rotation

The intent of the four-week enrichment rotation is for the intern to further develop skills in an area of dietetics that interests them. Past sites have included HealthSouth Rehabilitation, Hotel Hershey Spa, Super Bakery, San Diego Public School System, Sheetz Corporate Headquarters, Mount Nittany Medical Center (small community hospital), Centre Medical and Surgical Associates, and Blair Medical Associates.

In selecting a site for the enrichment rotation the following criterion must be met:

  1. Identify an area of interest in the field of dietetics
  2. Identify at least ten competencies that would be met during this rotation
  3. Contact a site and preceptor to complete the rotation
  4. Have a letter of agreement from the site and preceptor detailing the competencies, experiences, and evaluation methods
  5. Submit to the dietetics program director for approval.