Internship details

Learn where you live! Since all coursework is completed online. It is our expectation that all interns will be able to perform every task on this pre-internship needs assessment (PDF). In addition, you will need to have access to a computer, scanner, printer, and the internet throughout the internship.

You are encouraged to visit the Illinois Online Network website to self-evaluate your readiness for online learning. Another helpful link is “What Makes a Successful Online Student?”


Apply to one of the following to complete your supervised practice in the location of your choice:

Iowa based

Iowa based with option for international rotation


Nationwide with option for international rotation

Iowa-based: Up to 15 interns per session

  • Complete your supervised practice in facilities within the state of Iowa (such as Ames, Des Moines, Pella) or neighboring states (Omaha, NE; Rock Island, IL)
  • ISU instructors identify the preceptors and arrange placement of interns.
  • Iowa-based interns are required to live in the assigned internship location area regardless of where the intern resides at the time of the application. (For example, an applicant who resides in California would be required to move to Pella, Iowa if placed there for supervised practice.)
  • You can apply to include an international rotation in Ghana or France.
  • Estimated total cost 

Nationwide: Up to 65 interns per session

  • Complete your supervised practice at facilities anywhere in the United States (minimum requirements apply). 
  • You identify and contact preceptors and facilities in the area where you live or wish to work.
  • Your application must include a complete rotation schedule (see instructions in Planning your schedule below) and a preceptor commitment letter from each preceptor identified in your schedule.
  • You can apply to include an international rotation in Ghana or France.
  • Estimated total cost

Plan your own schedule

The start of your internship will be to participate in a two-week (50 hours total) Professional Skills Workshop with Iowa State University.  This will be offered virtually instead of our previous on-campus requirement. After the workshop, you will need:

    • 200 hours of community with at least one week in a WIC facility
    • 200 hours of FSM with at least one week in a school, rest in a hospital and/or long-term care facility
    • 600 hours in medical nutrition therapy

Note: ACEND has modified the required hours due to the COVID pandemic and that is reflected in this information.

Note: International rotations will replace some COM or FSM rotation hours for those who participate. Timing will vary.

  • In order to complete this accelerated internship in 6-months, each week interns spend at least 40 hours at the supervised practice site and  10+ hours in internship related activities such as simulations, leading to a 50+ hour week.
  • Complete this rotation schedule application form with your facility information. Do not modify the structure of this form. You must include the name of the preceptor and practice sites/facilities for every week except intern option week. For each facility, please enter the daily number of beds/clients served. i.e. average daily census.
  • Submit the final rotation schedule online in part one of the DI Online Application. Plan your internship using the following guide to see how the program is divided across the 6-months and the recommended duration for the different rotations. Your schedule will vary if you are granted credit for prior assessed learning.

Examples of schedules

Select your own sites and preceptors
(Nationwide only)

A preceptor is an expert or specialist, such as a Registered Dietitian, who provides practical experience and training to you during your internship. Other examples of experts or specialists include Registered Nurses (RN), certified dietary managers, Nutrition and Dietetic Technicians, Registered and food service directors.

The practice site/facility is an organization or business that provides you with the opportunity to complete supervised practice. Practice site/facilities may include a hospital, public health agency, university dining center, school food service, or long-term care facility.

Contact potential preceptors

‣ Start with contacts that you may already have.

  • Have you worked or volunteered in a facility that has one or more RDs? Typically, the people for whom you have worked have a favorable impression of your ability and commitment to succeeding in a DI. 
  • Have you attended any meetings with RDs? Network with these individuals in your quest to find qualified RD preceptors.
  • Have there been RD guest speakers in any of your classes?
  • If preceptors are unwilling to commit to serving as a preceptor without a finalized affiliation agreement, ask them if they would be willing to conditionally accept you as an intern, pending finalization of the affiliation agreement between their facility and Iowa State University.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, preceptors may be unable to commit to serving as a preceptor.
    • Ask them if they would be willing to precept you virtually. Refer to our suggested activities for virtual rotations, or
    • If they would be willing to conditionally accept you as an intern, pending resolution of the pandemic restrictions at their facility. A conditional acceptance recognizes that an on-site experience may not be possible due to facility guidelines

**Note: we recognize the difficulty you may be having in securing preceptors as a result of COVID-19. As complete a rotation schedule as you can submit will strengthen your application.

Facility information

We recommend that you secure three to five different facilities for your supervised practice experiences.  Examples of facilities include:

  • WIC facility
  • Community project site (could be completed at the WIC facility)
  • MGMT facility (could be completed at MNT site, LTC facility, or a school)
  • K-12 public school that participates in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs
  • Acute-care facility (like a hospital)

The minimum needs for your supervised practice facility for MNT rotations are:

  • Your facility should be currently accredited by the appropriate agency—such as JCAHO, DNV, or the state.
  • Each facility should be licensed for at least 50-bed inpatient census.
  • Each facility should have at least 2 RDs who work with MNT patient care.
  • Advanced practice rotations may occur in other facilities. These topic areas may include but are not required to include Pediatrics, Renal, Diabetes, Oncology, and Nutrition Support. It is not uncommon to complete most of the MNT rotations in one facility, then spend time at other facilities to complete the advanced topic areas.
  • The MNT facility may be the same as the MGMT facility.

‣ Use the Facility Search to find facilities organized by state. These supervised practice sites have existing affiliation agreements with ISU, or if you are a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you can search the preceptor database.

‣ Once you have decided which dietitians to contact, call their offices and make an appointment to talk with them.  A face-to-face meeting is best since you will be discussing the application materials and forms required after matching.

  • Even if these individuals do not agree to be your preceptors, they may be able to refer you to someone else.
  • The RDs who have agreed to serve as your preceptors should be able to guide you in approaching hospital administrators and agency directors if needed.

Affiliation agreements

If you match to our program, affiliation agreements will be required between ISU and the practice site/facility before your rotations begin

These agreements will be completed between ISU legal counsel and the practice site/facility after match.  ISU cannot guarantee that all affiliation agreements will be successfully negotiated. In the event we are unable to negotiate an affiliation agreement, it will be your responsibility to find another site and preceptor to complete your supervised practice.

Colorado residents – Colorado laws can make it difficult, perhaps impossible, to reach a legal agreement with facilities there. We will still review applications for Colorado, but want you to be aware that alternative plans may need to be made.

Obtain preceptor commitment letters

Your preceptors must provide you with a commitment letter or conditional commitment letter stating their willingness to precept you and the dates of your rotations with them--if facility guidelines permit. These letters provide assurance that appropriate professionals have been identified and are willing to supervise you if you match to the ISU DI. There is insufficient time after the match acceptance date to locate preceptors. Here is a sample commitment letter received via email that would be acceptable.

  • Letters may be in whatever format the preceptor prefers (email, letter, etc.), and PDF copies of the letters must be submitted as part of Step 1 in the application process. 
  • A letter from each of your preceptors must be submitted along with your application in a format that shows the preceptor wrote the letter (for example, if they sent you an email, print the full email to a PDF).
  • Inform each preceptor that in addition to their commitment letter, we will need their resume and possibly other documentation should you match to our program.
  • If preceptors are willing to precept you virtually or conditionally accept you as an intern, pending resolution of the pandemic restrictions at their facility, then they will need to state that in the letter/email.
**Note: We recognize that there may be changes to your schedule that may be beyond your control, such as due to worsening COVID cases a facility/preceptor may not be accepting students on site any longer. You will not be penalized for this. If you lose your preceptor/site between the application deadline and match day you should continue to search for alternative sites/preceptors. Start your search for new preceptors in the Facility Search database available on our website. If you are matched to the ISU DI, you will work with your assigned ISU instructor to update your schedule.

Sample preceptor commitment letter use original email as PDF