Samford University’s School of Public Health presented their 2024 Dietetic Internship (DI) class with a White Coat ceremony on January 12. During the ceremony, interns were presented with their signature white coats ahead of their supervised practice rotations. The DI is designed to provide the knowledge, practical skills and professional values that meet the standards of education and core competencies for registered dietitian nutritionists, as established by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Amy Cameron, dietetic internship director, reflected on the importance of the program, saying, “Our dietetic internship program integrates hands-on experience, mentorship, and exposure to various nutrition settings, ensuring students are not only well-prepared for successful careers in dietetics but also cultivate a spirit of gentleness, humility, and collaborative learning rooted in Christian values.”
Many students attribute their confidence as future dietitians to the Samford community that encouraged them beyond the classroom. Katherine Keller, dietetic intern, affirmed her decision in attending Samford’s School of Public Health. She said, “I value the close-knit community and relationships I have made here and truly believe that this is what sets Samford’s program apart from anyone else. I trust that Samford will continue to prepare me by filling me with the knowledge and confidence to practice dietetics.”
Each year, a maximum of 20 interns are accepted into the dietetic internship program, wherein they choose to complete a Master of Science in nutrition (MS) or Master of Public Health (MPH), along with the DI certificate program itself. Students who have a graduate degree may choose to complete the standalone DI, as well. Nanci Dillow, dietetic intern, commented on the white coat ceremony, “To me, the white coat ceremony is a culmination of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and fueled passion to fulfill my dreams as a future registered dietitian. I would not be donning this coat without the unwavering support of my husband and children.”
Students are excited about the positive impact they will make in their communities. Katie Hynekamp, dietetic intern, reflected on her experience so far. She said, “The faculty in the nutrition and dietetics department have been the most kind and have shown me a lot of support over the years. They have challenged and encouraged me on numerous occasions these last five years, and I know that I would not be the student, dietetic intern and future registered dietitian without their guidance.”
In December, interns who completed their DI internship were presented with certificates at the School of Public Health Graduate Student Ceremony. Once students successfully complete the internship and graduate degree and are validated by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, they are eligible to take the registration examination for dietitians.
Amanda Gibbons attended the School of Public Health Graduate Student Ceremony in December, and commented, “For me, the dietetic internship ceremony represented the ending of the academic chapter of my RD journey and the beginning of a new chapter. The requirements for this ceremony were simple, complete the dietetic internship. Well, I say simple, but completing the dietetic internship took a lot of hard work and dedication.” The internship itself is a 16-month post-baccalaureate certificate program with a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised practice experiences and coursework to prepare interns for a successful career in nutrition.