SJSU DI: Frequently Asked Questions
HOW HAS THE SJSU DI BEEN AFFECTED BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?
As the COVID‐19 pandemic is a fluid situation, the SJSU DI may need to make decisions to provide supervised practice experiences differently than what was originally advertised when you applied to the program. It is not uncommon for interns to have to suddenly move to remote work or temporarily stop training on-site because of COVID-related issues. The SJSU DI is working with our sites to get current interns through the program in a timely manner, but there may be delays in DI completion. These issues that the SJSU DI is dealing with are not unique to SJSU; almost all DIs across the country are having on-site training delays because of COVID.
Because of this possible backlog of interns and the less than normal number of DI
sites allowing interns to train on-site, the SJSU DI may possibly have to limit the
number of applicants for the next couple of cycles. Please keep the above issues in
mind as you are trying to plan your education timeline.
What are some alternative plans students can consider if there are not enough internal SJSU DI sites due to the pandemic?
- Consider applying to external DIs. For more info about applying to external DIs: www.sjsu.edu/nufspkg/programs/didactic-program-in-dietetics
- Consider having a job lined up; Jobs within the dietetics field can help students strengthen their professional experiences and DI applications.
- Current, relevant job opportunities are posted on our department LinkedIn site as well as various job search sites. Recommend you utilize the resources at the SJSU Career Center and work with the SJSU Career Center counselors to improve your job prospects.
- Consider obtaining a CDM, Certified Dietary Manager, certification (does not require additional coursework) and obtaining a CDM job, which is a management role that includes both clinical and foodservice management experiences. CDM positions are well paid and can be used to meet internal DI eligibility hours!
- Consider taking the DTR Exam after obtaining your DPD verification statement and then work as a DTR in a clinical setting to gain relevant professional experience and meet internal DI eligibility hours.
- Undergraduate students can consider applying to graduate school given the graduate degree requirement starting in 2024 (see below for FAQ related to this requirement). If you are interested in the SJSU MS program: www.sjsu.edu/nufspkg/programs/ms-nutritional-science
REGARDING SJSU DI ELIGIBILITY AND THE GRADUATE DEGREE REQUIREMENT FOR THE RD EXAM, EFFECTIVE 1/1/2024
Starting January 1, 2024, the minimum degree requirement for eligibility to take the RD exam will change from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree (in any field).
For SJSU Undergraduate Dietetic students who plan to apply/complete the SJSU DI and want to become an RD before the Graduate Degree Requirement becomes effective:
- SJSU DI application timeline
- You must complete your DPD coursework (BS Nutritional Science, Dietetics concentration) by Spring 2022 at the latest.
- You must apply for our DI during the Fall 2022 semester (at the latest), so that you can get an internship site placement and start the internship by Spring 2023.
- You must complete the internship, complete all paperwork, and get your DI verification statement by December 31, 2023.
- For more info about this Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) graduate degree requirement: https://admin.cdrnet.org/vault/2459/web///Graduate%20Degree%20FAQ%202-2020.pdf
Who is currently eligible to apply for the SJSU DI?
Currently, the SJSU DI is only available to SJSU students from the programs: BS in Nutritional Science, Concentration in Dietetics or MS in Nutritional Science.
SJSU students are not guaranteed a spot in the SJSU DI; all eligible students must apply and be accepted into the DI program. The SJSU DI is not a combined MS/DI program.
Note: Students apply to the SJSU DI during an application semester. More info about the SJSU DI can be found on our SJSU DI Brochure.
Who will be eligible to apply to the SJSU DI starting the Spring 2023 DI application semester?
- Students enrolled in the SJSU MS in Nutritional Science program
- Individuals who received their DPD Verification Statement from SJSU and completed a graduate degree (at SJSU or elsewhere)
What are the SJSU DI application requirements?
All information regarding the SJSU DI application requirements and application and selection process can be found on our SJSU DI Brochure.
What factors should I consider if I am trying to decide if I should try to complete the SJSU DI before the 1/1/2024 Graduate Degree Requirement deadline?
Deciding whether or not to get your RD credentials without a graduate degree is a personal choice. You should think about and understand the pros and cons before making an informed decision.
- How strong of a student/learner are you? Will you be able to complete the DPD coursework and get your B.S. degree (without having to retake classes, ~ 4 - 5 years), apply and get accepted into the SJSU DI (1 semester), and complete all the DI requirements and competencies (7 - 10 months) before December 31, 2023?
- What kind of career do you hope to have? If future RDs all have graduate degrees, what will your career advancement look like if you are a RD without a graduate degree?
- What is your personal/financial situation? Does it make sense to complete the DPD and B.S. degree now, maybe work as a DTR for a while (to save money and gain valuable dietetics experience), then complete a graduate degree, and then apply to a DI at a later date?
- Do you really need a RD credential for the job you want to have? Gaining work experience can help you decide if pursing a graduate degree and the RD credential is right for you.
RECENCY OF EDUCATION POLICY FOR SJSU DI APPLICATION
The SJSU DI requires interns to have a current knowledge of dietetics. All SJSU DI applicants must have a DPD Verification Statement no more than 3 years old at time of application. Exceptions are listed below.
- For students enrolled in the SJSU MS program who obtained a DPD Verification Statement from another institution, their DPD Verification Statements must be no more than 5 years old at time of SJSU DI application.
- For students who obtained their DPD Verification Statement from SJSU and are now enrolled in a Nutrition-related graduate program (at SJSU or elsewhere), their DPD Verification Statements must be no more than 5 years old at time of SJSU DI application.
- If a prospective applicant's DPD Verification Statement is greater than 3 years old at time of application, then they must update (retake) DPD coursework per advisement (email the DI Director to discuss your case prior to your application semester).
- In some cases, work experience focused in a specific area (e.g. foodservice, community)
may be counted in place of coursework (email the DI Director to discuss your case
prior to your application semester).
REGARDING THE SJSU DI APPLICATION SEMESTER
All applicants must enrolled in NUFS 220A (Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy, 3 units) and NUFS 280A (Dietetic Internship, 1 unit) when applying to the SJSU DI. Note that this SJSU DI Application Semester is not on the undergraduate DPD advising form. More details can be found on the SJSU DI Brochure.
When can students apply to the SJSU DI?
Students can apply to the SJSU DI any semester after completion of NUFS 110B with a grade of C or better.
Do undergraduate students have to graduate prior to their application semester?
- You may graduate with your BS in Nutritional Science, Dietetics Concentration, degree prior to applying for the SJSU DI. If you do graduate prior to your application semester, you will need to enroll in NUFS 220A and NUFS 280A via Open University/Special Sessions.
- Alternatively, you may delay graduation until after your application semester. In this case, you can save one (or more) undergraduate class(es) to take along with NUFS 220A and NUFS 280A.
- Note all undergraduate students must graduate before starting the SJSU DI.
REGARDING THE DI CONTENT EXAMS:
What are the DI Content Exams?
There are three multiple choice DI Content Exams one must pass in order to be eligible for our DI.
The Content Exams cover these 3 topics (one exam for each topic that cover material from both classes listed below):
- Nutrition (NUFS 8 & NUFS 106A)
- Food Science (NUFS 101A & NUFS 103)
- Food Management (NUFS 111 & NUFS 113)
When are the DI Content Exams?
DI Content Exams are administered once every semester a few days before classes start. The exact date will be announce via the DI Content Exams Canvas site and via department email.
How do students sign up to take the DI Content Exams?
Starting Spring 2021, the DI Content Exams will be administered online via the DI Content Exams Canvas site. At the end of every semester, the department sends out an email for students to request access to the DI Content Exams Canvas site - please wait for that email from the department to gain access.
- Details regarding the exams are posted on the DI Content Exam Canvas site.
- You can take a maximum of two DI Content Exams per semester, so plan ahead.
- You have two attempts to pass each exam. A score of 80% or higher is considered passing.
- If you click on a DI Content Exam in Canvas, and you fail to complete it, then this counts as one of your two allowed attempts. Do not start a DI Content Exam on Canvas unless you plan to take it.
Are study guides and materials available to help students prepare for these Content Exams?
All available study materials are posted on the DI Content Exams Canvas site. Some faculty shared only their syllabus; some faculty shared lecture slides; everything that is available are posted on the Canvas site. Please do not ask individual faculty members to provide tutoring or for additional exam prep materials.
If I fail one of the DI Content Exams twice, what are my options in terms of the Dietetic Internship?
Passing the three DI Content Exams is only a part of the SJSU DI eligibility criteria. There are other eligibility criteria such as having a 3.2 minimum GPA in select DPD classes. Refer to the SJSU DI Brochure for more details.
If you fail any of the DI Content Exams twice, then you are no longer eligible for the SJSU DI. You have the option to apply to external Dietetic Internships; students would work with the DPD Director, Dr. Giselle Pignotti, for external DI applications.
REGARDING THE REQUIRED 450 HOURS OF DIETETIC WORK/VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE:
What is the purpose of the required dietetic work/volunteer experience hours for DI application eligibility?
The purposes of this requirement are:
- To allow you to have a clear understanding of what a Registered Dietitian does, what the RD job entails, the working conditions, etc. to determine if the RD career path is truly something you want to pursue.
- To build experience and connections within the RD community, with the hope that when you apply for the SJSU DI, your chances of getting a DI site placement would be increased. Even if you decide to apply to external DIs, having the relevant experience and connections will increase your chances of getting an external DI match.
In addition, preceptors from the SJSU DI sites appreciate and value the prior dietetics experiences that our interns have gained prior to starting our internship. Members of the SJSU Dietetics Advisory Board (which includes preceptors and employers as well as other stakeholders) have continued to advocate for this prior experience before starting the internship. It better prepares the SJSU interns for the DI and allows the SJSU DI to maintain the minimum required accreditation hours of supervised practice (1200 hours or about 7 - 8 months).
When should students complete these hours?
You must complete these hours prior to the start of your application semester. We recommend you start early. You can count past work/volunteer experiences within the last 5 years (from your application semester).
Where are some places where students can complete these hours?
To find places to work/volunteer, we recommend you:
- Join the department LinkedIn group for networking opportunities and job postings
- Pay attention in NUFS 31 when students from NUFS 192 share their project experiences and contact info from places they worked/volunteered
- Join the NUFS Student Club and attend their events to network with invited speakers and learn from senior/graduating students about their work/volunteer experiences/potential opportunities
- Search job databases such as: SJSU Handshake, Indeed.com, Simplyhired.com, etc.
- Network with DPD faculty and other DPD students
- Have your resume and cover letter ready (recommend work with SJSU Career Center)
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many places are not allowing volunteers. What do you recommend students try to do to meet the DI eligibility hours requirement? Will the DI program adjust this requirement in light of the pandemic?
There are currently no plans to make changes to the DI eligibility requirements that have been approved by ACEND (our accreditation agency).
The SJSU DI does recognize it is more difficult to obtain the required DI eligibility hours during the pandemic. Students will have to be more resourceful, connect with other students and/or alumni (the department LinkedIn group is a good place to start), use your connections, think "outside-the-box," and keep trying. Some things to consider:
- While many volunteer programs are put on hold because of the pandemic, organizations are still hiring workers (e.g. diet clerks, diet aides, etc.), so consider applying for a paid position, especially if the position allows a work from home option.
- Have your cover letter and resume ready. Practice a brief intro and pitch. Have a list of things that you can contribute to the organization. Call or email organizations in your area and see if they may consider remote work. Be professional and persistent.
- Students are getting dietetics positions and experiences, even during this pandemic. You have to keep trying in order for something to work out.
- Stay positive. See this experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you can get a position (volunteer or paid) during this challenging time, this will only better prepare you for your future job search.
How should students document their hours?
Students can use any of the following as evidence of completion of required hours: time cards, pay stubs, emails from supervisors, personal records (with supervisor verification), or a letter signed by supervisor.
What counts towards the 225 non-clinical hours?
- Food service-related experiences (restaurant, server, host/hostess, barista, etc.)
- Community nutrition experiences (WIC, Second Harvest, food pantry, Head Start, Meals on Wheels, senior nutrition programs, Timpany Center, etc.)
- Nutrition education experiences (Peer Health Educators, wellness fairs, etc.)
What counts towards the 225 clinical/hospital-like setting hours?
- Types of facilities that count as hospital-like settings: hospitals, dialysis centers, diabetes clinics, skilled nursing facilities, sub-acute care facilities
- Types of facilities that are not considered hospital-like settings (these can count for non-clinical hours): student health center, wellness centers, gyms, lifestyle coaching, private practice, retirement homes, biometric screening events
- To qualify for clinical hours, the work performed must allow you to (1) experience a hospital-like setting, where there are patients with various disease states, (2) observe the role of the RD as a part of a multidisciplinary health care team, and (3) gain familiarity with patient records and nutrition care documentation (via electronic medical records and/or paper records).
What type of work/volunteer experiences would qualify?
- Examples of work at hospital-like facilities that count: diet tech/diet aide, menu planning, creation of education materials, in-service for staff, chart screening/review, working with hospital food service team, almost anything dietetic-/nutrition-related in a hospital-like setting
- Examples of work at hospital-like facilities that do not count: greeting patients, helping patients with way-finding, passing out magazines, office work, anything not related to nutrition
- For non-clinical hours: most food, nutrition, and/or dietetics-related experiences count.
Do students need to work under or with a dietitian in completing these hours?
- For the non-clinical hours: The supervisor does not have to be a dietitian.
- For clinical hours: The hospital-like facility will have a dietitian on staff, so your nutrition-related work/volunteer experience should involve the RD at the facility.
- When you apply for the SJSU DI, you will need 3 recommendations, typically a combination of evaluations from supervising dietitian(s) and faculty member(s).
Can students use their NUFS 192 hours to count towards these 450 hours for DI eligibility?
Yes! Students can double count NUFS 192 hours (to meet both the NUFS 192 requirement and the DI eligibility requirement).
Who should I ask to write a recommendation for my DI application?
Per the ACEND/AND applicant guidelines: "Make sure that your letters of recommendation and references are from individuals who really know the quality of your work and your character, and are willing to put positive recommendations in writing and say them to others. Vague or mediocre letters of recommendation are clues to internship programs that either your work or character is not good or that the person who wrote the letter of recommendation does not know you well.
- Always do your best work, and always cultivate good relationships with your advisors, teachers, employers, peers, patients, clients and students.
- Ask for letters of recommendation from people who know that you do high-quality work, have a strong study and work ethic, and behave in a professional and ethical manner.
- Make sure that that people who are writing letters of recommendation or serving as references are doing so, because they truly believe in you, not because they feel obligated to do so.
- Make sure that the people you ask to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference are considered by others to be honest and professional.
- Never ask for a letter of recommendation or a reference from someone for whom you
have done poor or mediocre work or with whom you have been in trouble."
At least two (out of three) of your letter writers should be Registered Dietitians, because letter writers will need to evaluate your application of knowledge in areas such as nutrition content, medical nutrition therapy, and foodservice management.