Practice Sites and Preceptors

SUNY Oneonta's online M.S. Nutrition and Dietetics Program differs significantly from traditional programs because graduate student interns complete their supervised experiential learning hours experience in their home communities. Thus, prior to applying to Oneonta, applicants must identify facilities where they can accomplish their supervised experiential learning experiences, three or more Registered Dietitian preceptors, and one or more accredited hospital facilities, as described below:

2 semesters (656 hours total) of medical rotations and 1 semester of food service systems management (240 hours total)

Hospital-based supervised experiential learning experiences include:

Medical Nutrition Therapy (2 semesters - 676 hours total)
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.

Food service Systems Management (1 semester - 240 hours total)
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.

An Agency of Aging - 32 hours of community nutrition experiences including experiences at senior congregate meals sites.

For example:

Office for Aging (32 hours)
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)

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

A public health maternal and child health program (such as WIC or Public Health Department) - 32 hours

Public Health Maternal and Child Health (MCH) office, e.g. WIC or Public Health Department (32 hours)
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 (80 hours)
This is a project-focused master’s program. During the summer semester, graduate student interns and their primary preceptor will identify a major project for a community program. During the fall semester, the graduate student intern will spend time with the program developing a proposal for approval. During the spring semester, the graduate student intern will implement, evaluate and write a report on the project.

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) 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 identify three or more Registered Dietitian Preceptors who are employed by the hospital and community facilities and who are willing to guide and assess the graduate student intern'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. Each intern must have a minimum of three RD preceptors and may have as many more RD and non-RD preceptors as is appropriate. The additional RD preceptors will serve as either "Secondary" or "Additional" preceptors.

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 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 Preceptors
You are required to have at least one additional RD preceptor and you may have more additional preceptors. These preceptors must be experienced Registered Dietitians or other professionals who will 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.

  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.

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 graduate student intern 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 graduate student intern 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 graduate student intern and the facility can benefit from the graduate student intern'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 graduate student intern 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 graduate student interns.

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. Margarets, and the Center For Discovery.

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