Dietetic internship graduates meet or exceed entry-level competency standards for dietitians, as established by the Accreditation Council for Education and Dietetics (see Accreditation). The hands-on and didactic learning experiences for the program are guided by a set of competencies structured within four graduate courses. The emphasis of the program is nutrition therapy for inpatients and outpatients. Upon successful completion of the program's learning experiences, internship graduates are eligible to take the national registration examination for dietitians (RDN exam). Participants in the internship are directly supervised and evaluated by well-qualified preceptors/registered dietitians in conjunction with WU faculty.
Interns, even those holding advanced degrees, are required to be accepted to the Winthrop University Graduate School as either a degree-seeking student or as a student pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Dietetics. In addition to individual living and transportation expenses, the primary internship program costs to interns are the tuition (12 credit hours) and laboratory fees and an exam review course. Tuition fees are set by the university so they vary annually; see the WU Graduate School website for current application and tuition costs. Upon satisfactory completion of the internship six graduate hours may be applied to an M.S. degree in human nutrition at Winthrop University. Successful completion of the internship meets the requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Dietetics. Completion of a graduate degree is not required but is strongly encouraged.
Interns are responsible for arranging their own housing accommodations. Rotation assignments are not all based near campus; each individual student is assigned to a specific geographical location in South Carolina or in the southern region of North Carolina. Interns may, or may not, be paired with another intern. Since interns rotate in various facilities within their specific geographical area in the Carolinas, access to reliable transportation is necessary. Interns must commit to a 36-week timeframe including 30 weeks of supervised practice (rotations) along with an orientation, written assignments, scheduled seminars, professional activities, Inman's RDN exam review course in addition to various holidays and a winter break. Interns should be aware that rotations are tightly scheduled and time does not permit for week-long vacations other than a winter break. Any absence from the program will need to be made-up, regardless of the reason.
Admission requirements are high in order to maintain program standards. Of those graduates seeking employment from the class of 2013 - 2014, 94% were employed within six months of program completion. The average first-time pass rate on the RDN exam for the classes of 2010 - 2014 was 95.7% and employers of program graduates evaluated the competence of WU graduates at one-year post-program completion with ratings on all aspects at 4 or greater out of a possible 5.