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Dietitian class graduates, already have jobs

by Kelley Martin
Registered Dietetic Internship director
Nutrition Education and Research Programs manager
Since the eight-member class of 2008 Dietetic Internship graduated May 17, all have found jobs in the dietetics field.
The 12th class of MUSC’s dietetic internship program was geographically diverse, representing states such as Michigan, New Hampshire and Alabama.
Several will remain in the Lowcountry: one intern was hired by MUSC and will serve as a clinical dietitian; another will work at Roper Hospital; and the other at Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro. One graduate will go northwest to work for Washington State, and the rest of the interns returned to their home states. The jobs these graduates obtained include working in medical centers, ambulatory care clinics and wellness programs.
These eight women will certainly go far, as they were one of our strongest classes ever. I believe that any one of these graduates has the potential of becoming president of the American Dietetic Association one day.
The class of 2008 accomplished many projects on campus and in the community, including:
  • Research: Each intern completed a research project and presented their abstracts and research posters at the Spring 2008 South Carolina Dietetic Association meeting. Out of the two other accredited internships in the state, this internship was the only one to present intern-driven research at this event. Most of their research was under the direction of MUSC registered dietitians and Mark DeLegge, M.D., Digestive Disease Center director.
  • Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB): This internship has strong ties with the LCFB and conducts a project annually. This year, interns were asked to teach classes to children enrolled in the Kids Café program about heart disease and stroke prevention.
  • HELP (formerly called Lose to Win): Interns hosted the first “Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Plan” to MUSC employees. This weight-loss challenge featured a weigh-in and weigh-out to assess changes in weight and body fat, weekly classes and newsletters to educate participants, door prizes and gifts. Gift certificates were awarded at the end of the program to those who earned the most points. Points were collected based on the amount of weight and body fat lost, as well as compliance to lifestyle changes; and maintaining a food diary. The event expects to be held annually.
  • National Nutrition Month: This year, the interns coordinated many activities to promote the American Dietetic Association’s message: “Nutrition: It’s a Matter of Fact.” Interns hosted a registered dietitian appreciation day for MUSC dietitians, developed several health-tip handouts posted in the cafeteria, and hosted a nutrition “wheel-o-facts” game, among other activities.
  • Marketing Project: Interns marketed MUSC’s Heart Health program, a family-based pediatric weight management initiative. They developed pamphlets, composed a list of local pediatric offices to send the pamphlets, and drafted a sample Web site layout.
  • Newspaper articles: Each intern submitted an article addressing a contemporary nutrition topic to MUSC’s The Catalyst and in the Post and Courier.
  • “Biggest Loser” to North Charleston Police Department: Interns developed this first annual program per the request of the police chief, who noticed high rates of hypercholesterolemia and hypertension among his officers. They taught classes and conducted weigh-ins/outs. Despite a low participation rate by the officers, the internship and the NCPD now have established a relationship for future collaborations.
  • Digestive Disease Cookbook: At the request of the Digestive Disease Center, the interns developed recipes, menus, and recommendations for eight different diets commonly used for patients with digestive diseases. This cookbook will be posted on the DDC’s patient information Web site.
Other notable projects
  • Speaking to outside groups such as the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
  • Hosting Wellness Wednesday booths that featured nutrition topics.
  • Participating in several Lowcountry Live television spots educating the public on prevention and wellness topics.
  • Assisting MUSC’s nutrition department in developing patient menus and cafeteria options targeting the Hispanic population.
The Class of 2009 will start in early September. Since the internship follows the same matching procedure as that of medical residency, MUSC has filled all eight spots on the first round despite a national match rate average of 69 percent. As usual, MUSC matched with our top ranks. All rising  interns have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition/dietetics from the following institutions of higher learning: Auburn University, University of Arizona, University of Maryland, Michigan State University, Kansas State University, Miami University (Ohio), University of Kentucky, and the University of Florida. A reception for this class will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 4 in Room 102, Education Center/Library Building.
All interns are eligible for this post-baccalaureate internship after they have earned bachelors degrees (at least) from a university offering an accredited nutrition/dietetics major. An under-graduate degree in this field shares more than 75 percent of the same courses as a pre-med degree, thus our interns come well-trained. Completion of an accredited internship, such as the one offered at MUSC, is the final academic step to declare eligibility to sit for the registered dietitian board exam and, ultimately, become a practicing R.D. This internship is housed in the Digestive Disease Service Line under the medical advisement of DeLegge.

Statistics about MUSC intern graduates to date
  • 84 interns have graduated from the program (first graduating class in 1997), which is a 100 percent completion rate.
  • Less than 2 percent of graduates completed within 150 percent of the expected program deadline.
  • The first-time R.D. exam pass rate is 98 percent (100 percent overall rate).
  • 14 graduates (17 percent of total) have been hired by MUSC.
  • During the past five years, 32 percent of graduates practiced in South Carolina after graduation, of which 25 percent of graduates still remain; and 93 percent of graduates intending to work as an R.D. found jobs within three months after graduation.
To learn more about MUSC dietetic internship, visit

Friday, July 18, 2008
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