The program is planned to enable the student, under the guidance of the registered dietitian, to learn necessary skills, progressively assume greater responsibility and to be provided with opportunities to demonstrate competence. Learning experiences are based on the knowledge acquired through the didactic program. An orientation period prepares the intern for the scheduled learning experiences.
Medical nutrition therapy and food service systems management experiences are provided at Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center.
The interns are provided outpatient and health promotion experiences at the Penrose-St. Francis Health Learning Center, which houses the Diabetes and Renal Care Center (DRCC) and Prevention and Wellness (P&W). At DRCC, interns gain experience in counseling and group education. They participate in all aspects of the management of diabetes, including menu planning, exercise and blood glucose monitoring. At P&W, they gain additional experience in a variety of community, corporate, and individual nutrition care and wellness programs. These experiences enable the students to develop competence in patient counseling and group education.
Affiliation experiences are designed to acquaint the interns with a variety of dietetic practices available in the community. These learning experiences enhance and complement those provided in the hospital setting. One week of choice is provided.
The curriculum fosters technical expertise in the areas of critical thinking, assertiveness, collaboration, public speaking, delegation, time management and writing.
Development of good interpersonal skills is highly emphasized during the internship. Projects and assignments are planned to help students develop these skills.
Educational experiences at Penrose-St. Francis and the affiliating organizations are planned to take advantage of changes in the healthcare environment and to meet the needs of individual interns. Therefore, it may be necessary to alter the rotation experiences during the course of the program.
Classes and study modules provide current information about foodservice systems management, medical nutrition therapy and community nutrition.
Satisfactory completion of all rotations of the Penrose-St. Francis Health Services Dietetic Internship Program is required in order to receive a Verification Statement. Satisfactory completion is defined as completing all rotations without any "1" ratings ("unacceptable") or multiple "2" ratings ("satisfactory"). A detailed description of minimum/acceptable performance can be found in the intern handbook once accepted.
Following successful completion of the program, students are eligible for active membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and are well prepared and eligible to complete the Registration Examination for Dietitians.
Food Service Systems Management
(comprises approximately 17% of the internship program)
Opportunities are provided at all hospitals for dietetic interns to apply principles of organization, personnel and resource management. The staff provides guidance as the intern studies the various daily aspects of dining room and patient tray service, including:
- Quantity food production
- Catered and special events
- Sanitation and safety
- Human resources management
- Computerized food service management
- Ingredient room
- Food purchasing
- Quality improvement
- Menu planning
- In-service development
- Problem solving
(comprises approximately 29% of internship program)
This portion of the program is designed to provide the intern with experiences in community health, along with exposure to foodservice systems and nutrition care in non-hospital settings. Some of these include:
- Health promotion programs
- El Paso County Public Health Department
- Supermarket nutrition program
- School lunch program
- Outpatient cardiac rehab
- Home care
- Community health center
Medical Nutrition Therapy
(comprises approximately 54% of internship program)
The medical nutrition therapy experiences are designed to provide interns with the opportunity to work with the clinical dietitians at all facilities to provide patient nutrition care, including: nutrition assessment, care planning, menu modification, nutrition support, patient instruction and quality improvement. Medical Nutrition Therapy competency for both uncomplicated and complex disease conditions is acquired as the interns are provided experience in the following areas:
- General medicine
- General surgery
- Coronary care and rehabilitation
- Acute care
- Wound care
- Pain management
- Longterm Acute Care
- Home nutrition support