News & Features

Program Closes Gap Between Dietetic Students, Internship Opportunities

A new supervised practice program at Fontbonne University will give qualified dietetics students a leg up in becoming registered dietitians. The university is piloting an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways (ISPP) program, the only one of its kind in the St. Louis area to offer supervised practice as part of a graduate degree.

Nutrition professionals who want to become, and remain, registered dietitians must meet rigorous education and registration requirements, including supervised practice experience. Half of the dietetics students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree can’t secure internship opportunities — there are simply too few to accommodate the steadily growing field.

“The surge of interest in nutrition and healthy lifestyles has resulted in an enrollment increase for dietetic and nutrition programs on U.S. college campuses,” said Dr. Cheryl Houston, professor and director of Fontbonne’s dietetics program. “At the same time, the number of accredited supervised practice program sites has not kept pace with this growing interest.”

Through the Fontbonne program, students who have not matched to a formal internship program can enroll in the university’s Master of Arts degree in human environmental sciences with a concentration in multidisciplinary health communication studies. They will also then complete their ISPPs program, a new opportunity developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).

“The ISPPs program is another way for us to help students reach their professional goals, offering them a flexible, individualized approach to registration,” Houston said. “Because it is directly connected to our master’s degree program, students with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics can earn an advanced degree and receive the valuable supervised practice experience they need to become registered dietitians at the same time.”

Fontbonne is currently accepting applications for up to 12 students in the program. The university is also enlisting the expertise of RDs in the St. Louis area — including Fontbonne alumni — to serve as preceptors, or mentors.

Learn more about the entrance criteria for the ISPP program or about becoming a preceptor.

Call 314.889.1415 or email ispp@fontbonne.edu with questions.

Learn more about studying dietetics at Fontbonne.