Information for Preceptors

Do you remember your M.S. Program or supervised experiential learning experience?

Most of us do, and the memories we cherish most are of special people--the RDs who helped us learn, grow and some days just survive! Without a doubt, our preceptors served as teachers, mentors, and role models. Though we may not have told them, they influenced our lives and our careers in countless ways. Truly, our preceptors "made" our program.

The graduate student intern applicant who has approached you about being their preceptor intends to apply for the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program offered by the SUNY Oneonta. This is a one-year program (3 semesters) that has a community emphasis and is designed to encourage interns to remain in their own communities while completing graduate courses that include supervised experiential learning in dietetics. Graduate student interns begin their program in June and complete the program the following May.

Minimum admission criteria include:

  • Completing an accredited undergraduate program resulting in a baccalaureate degree in nutrition and dietetics from a U.S. regionally accredited college/university or a foreign degree equivalent to at least a U.S. baccalaureate degree;
  • Verification of Completion (or an Intent to complete form if the applicant has not completed all degree requirements) signed by their undergraduate dietetics program director;
  • If the applicant completed a dietetics program more than two years ago, the applicant will be expected to have work experience in the field and/or additional course work and/or to earn an acceptable score on the admissions exam;
  • An overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale;
  • Work and/or volunteer experience in an area related to dietetics.
  • Admission is competitive and meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee that the student will be accepted into the program.

Preference for admission will be given to applicants who are committed to becoming Registered Dietitians and who have:

  • Developed the ability and willingness to assume considerable responsibility for their own learning;
  • Demonstrated the ability to solve problems and work and communicate effectively with others;
  • Demonstrated a commitment to community service and/or service-learning;
  • Applications are reviewed and acted upon without regard to race, color, gender, religion, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, or status as a veteran.

The college will provide preceptors access to the courses taken by the graduate student interns and the opportunity to earn Professional Education Credits.

In these times of staffing shortages, fiscal constraints, and the nearly constant need to "do more with less," you may wonder, "How will precepting a graduate student intern benefit me and/or my facility?"

The answer is two fold. First, interns typically 'give back' to their preceptors and supervised experiential learning facilities by:

  • Developing and conducting in-services education programs for employees
  • Developing and conducting education programs for patients, clients, other professionals and the community
  • Researching and presenting information on the latest care principles, medications, and/or studies
  • Developing patient, client, and/or employee educational materials
  • Gathering, analyzing, and reporting performance improvement data
  • Developing and hosting National Nutrition Month 'health fairs' and other activities to promote nutrition, food safety, and wellness
  • Completing a wide array of projects, audits, data gathering activities
  • Providing staff relief in both clinical and management areas

Second, the college will provide preceptors the opportunity to earn Professional Education Credits and access to college resources --such as library collections and resources.

Perhaps the most valued reward a preceptor receives is the satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment that come with positively influencing an intern's transformation into a capable entry-level dietitian. Think about how great it will be when an intern you helped prepare calls you to share good news: "I'm a Registered Dietitian!"

SUNY Oneonta provides a variety of resources to assist and support preceptors as they guide graduate student interns. Preceptors gain access to our online resources by completing and signing the Computer User Code Agreement Form and then faxing it to the SUNY Oneonta Information Technology Service Desk at 607-436-3677.

These online resources.include:

Access to Computer-Based Training (CBT) from SmartForce. Computer-based training is available with up-to-date modules such as MS Office, Java2, C/C++ Programming, PC Maintenance and many more. Instructions for enrolling are available.

Access to the services and collections available through the Milne Library. This link also serves as a gateway to the online catalog (OSCAR) and the catalogs of other libraries, electronic sources, and resources on the Internet. You may contact the library staff directly (phone number 607-436-3702) who are available to answer questions regarding distance research via our library and to work with program faculty and preceptors. The on-campus Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center staff also provide technical assistance as needed.

In order to apply for the SUNY Oneonta online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program, intern applicants must have the cooperation of at least three Registered Dietitians who are willing to serve as their preceptors. Additional dietitians and/or other professionals may participate as appropriate as additional preceptors.

Preceptor Qualifications

Preceptors are expected to have the knowledge and expertise in their field as evidenced by their having appropriate professional degrees and certifications. Preceptors are also expected to:

  • have a minimum of 1 year of experience in their field.
  • be committed to their own lifelong learning. Their resumes should document that they regularly participate in appropriate professional development programs and training.
  • have interest in and time for guiding, teaching, and assessing a graduate student intern

Preceptor Responsibilities

Primary Preceptor

The intern's (one) primary preceptor is an experienced Registered Dietitian who provides and/or coordinates supervision for the graduate student intern throughout the program. This person will submit online all preceptor evaluations of the graduate student intern's work to the M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program faculty. A primary preceptor must have daily access to the Internet and the ability to access and submit documents. 

Secondary Preceptor(s)

The intern's one or more secondary preceptors are experienced Registered Dietitians who participate in teaching and supervising the graduate student intern. These dietitians agree to supervise the graduate student intern and, in the event that the primary preceptor is not able to, submit all preceptor evaluations of the graduate student intern's work to the program faculty. 

Additional Preceptor(s)

The intern's one or more additional preceptors are experienced Registered Dietitians or other professionals who participate in teaching and supervising the graduate student intern. They agree to provide information about the graduate student intern's performance to the graduate student intern and the primary preceptor. 

Responsibilities for All Preceptors

  • Must communicate information regarding the graduate student intern's performance with the graduate student intern and the primary preceptor on a regular basis.
  • Must agree to abide by the policies and procedures that govern Oneonta's online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program.
  • Maintain the confidentiality of student records, treating interns fairly and objectively, and providing regular constructive evaluations.
  • Must agree also to the program's policy that "Students in supervised experiential learning programs shall not routinely replace employees except for planned professional staff experiences".

Soon after a student is appointed as an intern, the College Finance Officer will send a "SUNY Affiliation Agreement" to the contract officer or other administrator of each hospital and community agency listed by the graduate student intern on their paperwork.

Appropriate facility administrators must sign these agreements/contracts with the college prior to the third week of May as a condition of the student's final acceptance into the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program. Appointments are not final until all required affiliation agreements have been signed by the appropriate representative of the facility and the College and the graduate student intern has met all other obligations such as earning an undergraduate degree and providing Oneonta with a signed copy of their Didactic Program in Dietetics Verification Statement (see your DPD Program Director).

While the "SUNY Affiliation Agreement" cannot be signed until a student has been offered and has accepted an appointment, prospective interns should discuss the requirement of the agreement with facility administrators while preparing to submit the facility information on the preceptor and facility form to SUNY Oneonta.

As a preceptor, your involvement during the application process is critical to the graduate student intern's success in being selected for the M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program. Your assistance is needed in suggesting local facilities and other experienced RD preceptors that will provide the graduate student intern with the required experiences in medical nutrition therapy, food service and community nutrition. The experiences are planned on the Preceptor and Facility Form. An applicant's form must show where the graduate student intern will accomplish all required experiences and who will be precepting those experiences.

The intern must postmark his/her completed application packet on or before the mid-February deadline. As part of the selection process, potential preceptors may be contacted by the program director to further clarify information contained in the application.

NOTE: All M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program appointments are tentative until the college has sent and received back the completed "SUNY Affiliation Agreements" signed by the facility and the college after the graduate student intern applicant is selected to the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program. Here's what happens once a graduate student intern submits his/her materials to the D&D Digital Systems computer match company and an application to the program.

March: Program Director, Masters Degree & Dietetic Internship Program Program faculty, and/or members of the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program selection committee contact designated primary preceptors to discuss the online program. The College's Office of Finance and Administration mails the "SUNY Affiliation Agreement" to the facilities for initial review.

April: Applicants receive notification of online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program appointments from D&D Digital Systems

May: Preceptors fax to the college a completed Computer Usercode Agreement Form. Preceptors provide graduate student intern with a list of facility expectations to complete prior to the M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program (example - immunizations, orientations, HIPAA training, medical abbreviations used in the facility, etc.). Preceptors are encouraged to review the schedule for the graduate student interns' on-campus orientation in May. (Required reading for interns.) Preceptors are encouraged to review the online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program program policies. (Required reading for interns.)

End of May (Orientation): Three-day orientation scheduled at SUNY Oneonta

June: First semester courses begin combined with supervised experiential learning hours.

June-July: First semester courses continue combined with supervised experiential learning hours

Late August: Fall semester courses begin combined with supervised experiential learning hours

End of December - Mid-January: Intern vacation

Mid-January: Spring semester courses begin combined with supervised experiential learning hours

May: Graduate student interns complete online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program


The following are important points to help make your life easier when supervising/teaching interns.

  • Graduate student interns want to be in the program. This is their dream, goal, career.
  • Graduate student interns, even those with considerable life and work experience, have a great deal to learn. In the beginning, of each new experience, talk with them about what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • Graduate student interns learn best by doing. The more hands-on experiences, the better. They need your guidance and constructive suggestions as they learn and begin to apply theory to practice.
  • The goal is for interns to develop the knowledge and skills expected of an entry-level dietitian. They will develop specialized knowledge and skills as they progress in their careers.
  • Preceptors should identify and recognize intern strengths and weaknesses at the beginning of the program and periodically thereafter. It is important for both the graduate student intern and the preceptor to have realistic expectations.
  • Address issues and concerns early, fully, frequently and honestly.
  • Encourage and support your intern's development of independence yet always require accountability.
  • An intern's desire to learn and present a positive attitude are as important as innate intelligence or ability.
  • Graduate student interns will make mistakes in their program. Help them learn from them. This is their training ground for the real world.
  • Be upbeat, positive, supportive and caring. It goes a long way.
  • Communicate expectations and rules clearly, early and frequently.
  • Communicate with the course instructor and/or program director anytime you think it appropriate.
  • Faculty members at SUNY Oneonta participated in the development of a Preceptor Training Program that is being offered free of charge by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Upon completion, 8 c.e.u’s will be awarded. We are confident that you will find this to be worth your time.


Preceptors help graduate student interns develop the expected entry-level competencies by guiding their supervised experiential learning and by providing constructive feedback regularly. The online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program faculty have developed, in conjunction with previous preceptors and members of the Program Advisory Committee, a number of checklists and rubrics for use in assessing the graduate student intern's learning. Preceptors will evaluate all competencies expected during the first eight weeks of the program and assess the intern's service-learning project, interviewing skills and educational presentation.

All of the evaluation forms will be available as Word documents to preceptors in each online course. (offered via Blackboard through SUNY Oneonta). Each primary preceptor will be able to download each document, fill it out, and then submit it to the course instructor as an integral part of each course. Other preceptors working with the graduate student intern provide the primary preceptor input for the assessments as appropriate.

Graduate student interns are expected to complete regular self-assessments that are nearly identical to those that preceptors complete. Graduate student interns share their self-assessments with preceptors when they meet. The focus of the graduate student intern-preceptor conference can then be on areas where the graduate student intern and preceptor differ in their assessment of the graduate student intern's level of competence. Another focus of the regularly planned graduate student intern-preceptor conference is planning of supervised experiential learning experiences so that the graduate student intern is able to continue to grow in both knowledge and skill.

The program director and other faculty are available to preceptors or interns have questions about assessment of teaching and learning.

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