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.

What are some alternative plans students can consider if there are not enough internal SJSU DI sites?

  • 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.

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:

Who is eligible to apply to the SJSU DI?

  • 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) 

The SJSU DI is only available to students from the SJSU Department of Nutrition, Food
Science, and Packaging who already have a graduate degree or are getting a graduate degree at the time of application, and applicants must have received/will receive at least one of the following degrees from our Department: BS in Nutritional Science, Concentration in Dietetics and/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

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 obtain a graduate degree and pursue the RD credential?

Deciding whether or not to get a graduate degree and pursue the RD credential is a personal choice. You should think about and understand the pros and cons before making an informed decision.

  • Note that you will need an advanced (graduate) degree to become a RD.
  • How strong of a student/learner are you? Do you enjoy being in school?
  • What is your personal/financial situation? Does it make sense to pursue an advanced degree now? Does it make sense to 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 and/or an advanced degree 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 5 years old at time of application. Exceptions are listed below. 

  • If a prospective applicant's DPD Verification Statement is greater than 5 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 once they meet the eligibility requirements found on the SJSU DI Brochure.


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 (minimum 1000 hours or about 7 - 9 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, some 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 a 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:

  • Many facilities now have remote volunteer positions.
  • 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, most private practice situations, 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.