The mission of the Didactic Program in Dietetics at the University of Tennessee at Martin is to prepare students for supervised practice leading to eligibility for the CDR credentialing exam to become registered dietitian nutritionists. Grounded in adult education theory, the science-based curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, team work, and authentic application of information. Graduates will acquire the skills necessary for both dietetics-related professional practice and lifelong learning.
The Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) at the University of Tennessee is currently granted Accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995, 800/877-1600, ext. 5400, www.eatrightpro.org/acend.
Program Information and Related Links
Information related to program goals and objectives, curriculum requirements, academic calendar, and financial aid information can be found in the links below.
Program Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes
Goal 1: To prepare graduates for a dietetic internship, graduate programs, and dietetics-related employment.
Outcome 1: At least 80% of program students complete program/degree requirements within three years (150% of program length).
Outcome 2: In surveys from field experience preceptors, at least 75% of respondents will indicate agreement with respect to preparation of UTM senior dietetic students in each of the following areas: science-based knowledge required of dietetics professionals, community nutrition, food service operations, multicultural awareness, and both oral and written communication skills.
Outcome 3: In surveys from Supervised Practice Program Directors, at least 75% of respondents will indicate satisfaction with graduates preparation for supervised practice and indicate agreement with respect to UTM graduates’ preparation in each of the following areas: science-based knowledge required of dietetics professionals, community nutrition, food service operations, multicultural awareness, and both oral and written communication skills.
Outcome 4: In surveys from graduating DPD seniors, at least 75% of respondents will indicate feeling adequately prepared for their field experience.
Outcome 5: At least 75% of program graduates apply for admission to a supervised practice program prior to or within 12 months of program graduation.
Outcome 6: Of program graduates who apply to a supervised practice program, at least 75 percent are admitted within 12 months of graduation.
Outcome 7: Of the graduates who are accepted for supervised practice within 12 months of program completion, at least 75% will indicate feeling adequately prepared for their Dietetic Internship.
Outcome 8: Of the graduates who do not apply for supervised practice programs within 12 months of program completion, at least 60% of graduates will obtain employment in a dietetics-related field or enroll in either a graduate or continuing education program.
Outcome 9: Of graduates who are accepted to a supervised practice program, at least 75% will successfully complete the program within 150% of the program's length.
Goal 2: To prepare graduates to pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians Nutritionists and to be future preceptors and active members in their professional organization.
Outcome 1: The program’s one year pass rate (graduates who pass the exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
Outcome 2: At least 75% of program graduates will indicate that they used the study review guide for the registered dietitian nutritionist exam provided to them in their senior year as additional preparation for their supervised practice program and in preparation for taking the registration exam.
Outcome 3: At least 25% of program graduates will become preceptors for UT Martin within 3 years of passing the RDN exam.
Outcome 4: At least 30% of program graduates will be members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or another related professional organization within 3 years of passing the RDN exam.
Program outcomes data is available by request by sending an email to the program director, Dr. Amy Richards, at email@example.com.
Program policies and procedures as well as program costs can be found in the Student Handbook for the Didactic Program in Dietetics.
Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor’s degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website: https://www.cdrnet.org/graduatedegree. In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited undergraduate DPD program at the University of Tennessee at Martin are eligible to apply to an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. A master’s degree will need to be completed as part of that supervised program or prior to acceptance into that supervised practice program to be eligible to take the credentialing exam after December 31, 2023.
In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements click here.
For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN click here.
Admissions Criteria for Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD)
Prospective students will be considered for entry to the DPD based upon criteria listed in the catalog in effect when they enroll in the university. For those applying for admission under the 2020-2021 catalog, the following criteria will apply:
- Cumulative GPA = 3.0 or better
- Grade of C or better in each of the following courses:
- BIOL 140 Cell & Molecular Biology
- CHEM 121 Gen Chemistry I
- CHEM 122 Gen Chemistry II
- FSCI 200 Food Principles
- FSMG 312 Quantity Food Mgmt
- NUTR 100 Introductory Nutrition
- Completion of application packet, which includes:
- DPD admission application
- Current transcripts from UTM and/or any other relevant universities or colleges attended
- Completion of interview with dietetics faculty
The Pathway to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Step One: Complete Undergraduate Dietetics Coursework
An undergraduate degree in dietetics is frequently the first step in becoming a registered and licensed dietitian nutritionist. Admission to the Didactic Program in Dietetics at UTM (working towards an undergraduate degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in dietetics) occurs after entry level courses are completed as well as other criteria being completed. Application to the DPD program typically occurs at the end of the sophomore year.
If an individual already has a bachelor’s degree and is interested in becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist, a second bachelor’s degree does not need to be completed, but rather specific, additional undergraduate coursework must be completed and then application to a post baccalaureate dietetic internship occurs. A Verification Statement is earned upon completion of needed undergraduate coursework and is required as part of the pathway to become a registered dietitian.
Step Two: Apply to Dietetic Internships During Senior Year
Completion of an undergraduate degree in dietetics from a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) accredited by ACEND is the usual pathway for students to meet the coursework requirements for dietetic internships.
In the senior year of the dietetics program (or final year of completing undergraduate coursework if the student already has a prior degree), students apply for post baccalaureate dietetic internships that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Accredited dietetic internships require the completion of a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised practice.
The application process for accredited post baccalaureate dietetic internships is completed through a national online application system called DICAS that allows for one application to be completed, tailored, and submitted to multiple dietetic internships. Applications can be submitted through DICAS in February and November, however, UTM students typically submit their applications in February due to the timeframe for completion of their undergraduate courses.
For their application to ACEND accredited dietetic internships, students need to list and describe work and volunteer experiences relevant to dietetics; leadership experience; honors and awards; and educational information. A resume is also submitted along with a personal statement that makes the case for why the internship should select the applicant. Additionally, strong references are needed from faculty members and others that attest to the potential for the student to be successful.
Additionally, to be considered by most internships, students must set up an account with D & D Digital and enter the name of internships that they are applying and rank the order of preference for the internships that they list. Internships also rank the order of applicants by their preference of who they would most like to accept into their programs. D & D Digital uses a computerized system that matches students to internships based upon both the ranking of the student and the ranking of the internship. More information about the matching process can be found at https://www.dnddigital.com/ada/questions.php
Competitiveness of Dietetic Internships
Only 50% of those applying for internships are matched to an internship during the national match that occurs in February of each year. A GPA of 3.5 or higher is recommended to increase the chance of being accepted into an internship. Additionally, work and volunteer experience related to dietetics helps students be more competitive.
Length of Dietetic Internship Programs
Dietetic Internships typically last about one academic year. Many dietetic internships are associated with master’s degree programs with graduate coursework completed prior to starting the internship. As a result, students should plan to spend an additional two years after the completion of a bachelor’s degree to complete the requirements necessary to be able to sit for the national registration examination to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Federal financial aid is typically available for internships associated with master’s degrees.
Information about dietetic internships is available on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at http://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/acend/accredited-programs/dietetic-internships.
Step Three: Registration and Licensure
Once a dietetic internship has been completed, a national registration examination must be taken and passed to become a registered dietitian. Registration exam requirements are set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Additionally, in most states including Tennessee, state licensure must be applied for and maintained. Throughout one’s career, continuing education is required to maintain registration and licensure.
Completion of the UTM undergraduate dietetics program along with the completion of an ACEND accredited dietetic internship will meet the requirements of licensure in all states that have licensure for registered dietitians. For more information about state licensure requirements click here.
Alternative Career Pathway in Dietetics—Becoming a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician Registered
If an individual is not able to obtain a dietetic internship or decides that he or she does not want to pursue that pathway, an alternative pathway is available. Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, students are eligible to sit for the registration examination for the Nutrition and Dietetic Technician Registered (NDTR).
The initial steps to become an NDTR are the same as for a RDN with application to the DPD and completion of a degree in dietetics (or alternative degree and completion of a Verification Statement to document all needed coursework has been completed). Upon passing the NDTR examination, the individual is able to practice in hospitals, medical clinics, and long-term care facilities under the supervision of a registered dietitian nutritionist when working directly with patients and independently when working in areas that do not require medical supervision such as school food service and community wellness programs.
For more information about becoming a NDTR, please visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website
Graduates of the Didactic Program in Dietetics at the University of Tennessee at Martin receive Verification Statements from the program director, establishing eligibility for a Dietetic Internship. Successful completion of an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship is required to write the Registration Examination for Dietitians, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration(CDR). At present, there is a national shortage of internship spots. Approximately one in every two applicants gets accepted to a Dietetic Internship, making the application process very competitive.
To read more, visit the Dietetic Internship webpage.
Careers in Dietetics
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