Facilities and Preceptors

SUNY Oneonta's online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program differs significantly from traditional programs because graduate students complete their supervised experiential learning hours in their home or chosen communities. Thus, prior to applying to Oneonta, applicants must identify facilities and preceptors with whom they can accomplish their supervised experiential learning experiences as described below:

2 semesters (summer and fall, 656 hours total) of medical rotations and 1 semester (spring) of food service systems management (240 hours total). Each student will need 1 primary and 1 secondary clinical RDN preceptor at the primary hospital facility where they will complete their summer and fall supervised experiential learning. Each student will also need 1 preceptor in a hospital or long term care setting for the foodservice management component of the program (this may be completed at the same hospital as the summer and fall experiences, but would be completed with a food service director or similar food service professional). Each student will also need 1 school foodservice preceptor that works in a school-based kitchen/meals program for a component of the foodservice experience that occurs in the spring semester. 

Hospital-based/clinical supervised experiential learning experiences include:

Medical Nutrition Therapy (2 semesters - 676 hours total, summer and fall semester)
Diabetes, obesity, acute and chronic cardiology, oncology, AIDS/HIV and other disorders of the immune system, gastrointestinal disorders; general medical and surgical conditions such as those affecting the liver, stomach, pancreas etc.; pulmonary conditions, critical care, renal disorders, and pediatrics. Students may need additional RD preceptors that are trained in renal and pediatrics specialty areas if the primary clinical facility does not offer these experiences. Please contact the Program Director for assistance in these areas as needed. 

Food service Systems Management (1 semester - 240 hours total, spring semester)
Recipe/menu development and modification; supply and procurement; food production and service systems; sanitation and safety; quality management; management tools, functions, and skills; resource management; information management and reporting; and training and education. Includes 24 hours of school foodservice experience. 

An Agency of Aging - 32 hours of community nutrition experiences (spring semester) including experiences at senior congregate meals sites. Each student will need 1 preceptor that works at an Office for Aging. 

For example:

Office for Aging (32 hours, spring semester)
Observe, participate, and supervise the planning, preparation and service of congregate and home-delivered meals; plan a one-week menu for the meal program; conduct an assessment of the nutritional status of a population of older adults using a tool such as the DETERMINE survey and report on the nutritional status of the group surveyed.

Develop, market, present and evaluate a food/nutrition education program to program participants; conduct a program outcome assessment/evaluation review; explore the continuum of care available to seniors in the local community

Long-term Care (80 hours, spring semester) 

Each student will need to locate 1 RDN preceptor that works in a nursing home/long term care/rehab setting. 

Observe, participate and supervise the nutrition care of patients. Observe menu planning, as well as meal preparation and service, participating as feasible.

Public Health Maternal and Child Health (MCH) office, such as WIC or Public Health Department (32 hours, spring semester)
Each student will need to locate 1 preceptor that works as a nutritionist or program coordinator for a local WIC office.

Participate in screening, assessment, and documentation; client counseling and/or group instruction; develop educational materials as needed; analyze nutrition assessment and intervention records using appropriate quality control procedures.

Community Health Intervention Project (CHIP) 3 semesters (120 hours)
Each student will need to locate 1 preceptor from a community agency to fulfill the role of CHIP preceptor. This person does not need to be an RDN. Students are encouraged to choose a community agency that aligns with their professional interests. Previously used community sites include but are not limited to: food banks, clinical or school food service programs, outpatient programs (i.e. groups dedicated to chronic disease management, intuitive eating, etc.), private practice groups, YMCAs/gyms/health facilities, school classrooms, and sports teams, among others. 

This is a project-focused master’s program. During the summer semester, the student and their CHIP preceptor will design a needs assessment to identify the most pressing need of the community group. During the fall semester, the student will carry out this needs assessment. During the spring semester, the student will implement an intervention designed to meet the need identified in the needs assessment. The student will then evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention and present their findings in a written scientific manuscript and a poster presentation.

The ideal hospital facility would have a wide variety of acute, chronic, and outpatient services as well as the full range of foodservice operations. The ideal community agencies (Office for the Aging, Long-term Care, and Public Health/WIC) would be involved in broad planning and management of food and nutrition services as well as direct client care. Facilities should be large enough to have several full-time RDs. Talk with the RDs who have agreed to serve as your preceptors - they should be able to guide you in approaching hospital administrators and agency directors.

Registered Dietitian Preceptors

Applicants must Registered Dietitian Preceptors who are employed by the hospital and community facilities outlined above, who are willing to guide and assess the student's learning throughout the program.

Primary Preceptor
Your primary preceptor must be an experienced Registered Dietitian who has agreed to provide overall coordination for your supervised experiential learning experiences throughout the program. This dietitian will either personally guide you as you develop entry-level competence or will coordinate with other dietitians who may be guiding you. The primary preceptor is responsible for submitting frequent evaluations of your skills to the course instructor and is the primary contact for the program director and faculty. This preceptor should be employed by the primary hospital/clinical facility that you are at during the summer and fall semesters.

Secondary Preceptors
Your secondary preceptor, or secondary preceptors if you have more than one, must be an experienced Registered Dietitian who has agreed to participate in teaching and supervising you as an intern. This dietitian has agreed to supervise the student, and in the event that the primary preceptor is not able, to submit all preceptor evaluations of the student's work to the program faculty. This person should be employed at the same facility as the primary preceptor.

Additional Preceptors
Please see above rotation list for the additional foodservice and community preceptors that are needed to complete the program. Beyond a primary and secondary preceptor, all students will need a foodservice, long term care, office for aging, WIC, school foodservice, and CHIP preceptor to complete the program. Students may need additional RD preceptors in renal and pediatrics specialty areas if the primary clinical facility does not offer these experiences. Most of these preceptors must be experienced Registered Dietitians, with the exception of WIC, foodservice, school foodservice, and CHIP as these can be other professionals who will participate in teaching and supervising the student. All preceptors agree to provide information about the student's performance to the student, the primary preceptor, and the program/course instructor(s).

  1. Start with contacts that you may currently have. Have you worked or volunteered in a facility that has one or more RDs? Typically, the people for whom you have worked have a favorable impression of your ability and commitment to succeeding in a M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program.
  2. Have you attended any meetings with RDs? Network with these individuals in your quest to find qualified RD preceptors.
  3. Have there been RD guest speakers in any of your classes?
  4. Do you know dietitians who enjoy working with students? Those dietitians who have successfully precepted other interns are often willing to work with additional interns.
  5. Once you have decided which dietitians to contact, call their offices and make an appointment to talk with them. Since there are forms to be completed and application materials to discuss, a face-to-face meeting is best. Even if these contacts do not agree to be your preceptors, they may know someone else whom you might approach.
  6. Contact us! We can help you locate facilities in your area that may have had our students before.

Hospital Facilities

Applicants must identify one or more accredited hospital facilities with an average daily patient census of at least 125 that is willing to sign a "SUNY Affiliation Agreement" and where the student can learn to apply the nutrition care process model in providing food and nutrition services for patients with a variety of medical conditions including:

  • diabetes
  • acute and chronic cardiology
  • outpatient clinics
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • hepatic and pancreatic disorders
  • pulmonary conditions, oncology
  • AIDS/HIV and other immune system disorders
  • pediatric, renal disorder, and critical care

The preceptor and facility form (see application checklist for form) that each applicant submits must document that the types of experiences required and the supervision needed to accomplish the goals and complete the curriculum of Oneonta's online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program are available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a student also be an employee of a facility that is providing supervised experiential learning?

Applicants to Oneonta's online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program who are presently employed by any facility that they intend to utilize for supervised experiential learning experiences must define with preceptors and supervisors that the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program assignments including supervised experiential learning hours each week are exclusive of employment responsibilities. The program status must be defined, maintained and assessed separately from any employee performance appraisals. Both a student and the facility can benefit from the student's status as a part-time employee if both are committed to fulfilling the obligations inherent in each responsibility.

Can the facility have more than one student at a time?

Yes, facilities can provide learning experiences for multiple students/interns; however, applicants to Oneonta's online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program are expected to use discretion to avoid overuse of preceptors and/or facilities currently providing dietetic practice experiences for other students or students.

If unable to find a pediatric preceptor in a hospital setting, is there an alternative?

Yes, some of your options/opportunities may include a: pediatric office, school-based health clinic (address food allergies), daycare, or a camp (i.e., Double H Ranch). Other options include Head Start, Center For The Disabled, Springbrook, Pathfinder Village, St. Margaret's, and the Center For Discovery.

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