What is a Preceptor ?

A "preceptor" is an expert or specialist, such as a Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, who provides guidance, practical experience and training to a Dietetic Intern. In years gone by, all preceptors in Dietetic Internships were required to be Registered Dietitians.  That is no longer the case. A preceptor should be someone involved with the field of nutrition and dietetics in some way, who is in a position to help guide your experience in the internship at the local level (where you live) and help arrange experiences to help you meet expectations of your program.

PLEASE NOTE: A CLINICAL PRECEPTOR DOES NOT NEED TO BE IN A LARGE HOSPITAL.  A CLINICAL ROTATION MAY BE COMPLETED IN A LOCATION WHERE THE NUTRITION CARE PROCESS AND MNT ARE PRACTICED. IT MAY BE COMPLETED IN A UNIT OF ANY SIZE OR TYPE IN WHICH YOU WOULD HAVE ACCESS TO A DIVERSE RANGE OF PATIENTS IN TERMS OF AGES, DISEASES AND CONDITIONS. YOU MAY COMBINE TWO LOCATIONS TO GAIN THESE EXPERIENCES. THEY DO NOT NECESSARILY NEED TO INCLUDE LONG TERM CARE AND PEDIATRICS AS THESE EXPERIENCES MAY BE GAINED DURING OTHER ROTATIONS. AN EXTENDED CARE FACILITY WHERE THERE IS A REHAB UNIT FOR YOUNGER PATIENTS IS A GOOD POSSIBILITY.  This rotation may be completed at one facility (for 8 weeks) or two facilities (for 4 weeks each). These may include, but are not limited to, hospitals (excluding psychiatric and eating disorder programs), extended care facilities with onsite acute rehab units, rehabilitation facilities (excluding substance abuse programs), outpatient facilities which primarily deliver MNT, and health centers. The time frame may be adjusted with approval of the Program Director if the Intern has an opportunity to spend time in a renal unit during this rotation (two weeks maximum in a renal unit). At least six weeks of the clinical rotation must be completed at an inpatient facility. The preceptors for this rotation must be secured within the time frame delineated in the APPLY page.


Who can be a Preceptor?

  • Registered Dietitians Nutritionists  (RD / RDN)
  • Licensed Dietitians (LD), Certified Dietitians (CDN)
  • Nutritionists 
  • Food Service Directors (Schools, Hospitals, Nursing Homes etc.)
  • Certified Diabetes Educators
  • Please note that regardless of the discipline, all credentials and experience will be evaluated for appropriateness and relevance  to the rotation and experiences the Intern will be completing.

When do I need an RD / RDN Preceptor ?

You MUST have an RD / RDN Preceptor in your CLINICAL ROTATION when you will definitely be practicing the Nutrition Care Process, Medical Nutrition Therapy, and developing goals for your Professional Development Portfolio.  There are some experiences that you are required to complete, which must be supervised by Registered Dietitians, but in other cases the preceptor may be a member of a team that is involved in nutrition and dietetics issues with patients, clients, or businesses.

I want to apply to Priority Nutrition Care Dietetic Internship.
When should I start looking for a Preceptor ?

It is NEVER TOO EARLY to start inquiring, such as at the completion of a summer job in Nutrition and Dietetics or after volunteer work, even in your sophomore or junior year.

How many Preceptors do I need ?

  • You will need at least one Preceptor for each of the 4 rotations.  
  • It is possible for the same preceptor to supervise you in more than one rotation. 
  • Your program application must include at least two identified preceptors:
    • The Clinical Preceptor MUST be an RD / RDN
    • The Food Service Preceptor must be a credentialed food service administrator, such as a Food Service Director or Food Service Manager.
    • The Community Preceptor may be an RD / RDN or other credentialed professional in a program in which nutrition and food related services are a major component of the program. 
    • Elective – May or may not be an RD / RDN.

Will PNCDDI find a Preceptor for me?

The Priority Nutrition Care Distance Dietetic Internship will be able to help you determine whether a Preceptor is acceptable, and will help with other leads, AFTER you have been matched, to help round out the breadth and depth of your experiences.  The Internship has the final decision on whether a particular Preceptor is acceptable, but it is YOUR responsibility to find your own Preceptors.  The extent to which it appears that you have made that effort will be important in how we view your application.

How can I find a Preceptor ?

  • Since you are applying to a Program which requires you to have potential Preceptors already identified, you may have to use some imagination to find people willing to help you.  
  • Talk with your DPD advisor and your DPD Program Director and other academic advisors, professors and your state Dietetic Association and ask for their assistance in locating preceptors.
  • You might want to start by contacting someone for whom you have worked in the past or someone in a place where you have volunteered and explain to them what you are trying to accomplish.  We suggest that you try to find out names and personalize your requests rather than send blanket e-mails “to whom it may concern”. You may want to ask friends and family about people they may know.  It might help to show them this document.
  • Cold calling (just calling from a list of RDs found online who have not necessarily shown an interest in precepting) or calling RDs working in places who already work with interns, either because they host an internship or because they have long standing relationships with interns, may prove frustrating, but it has worked for some of our Interns.
  • The accrediting body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics maintains a list of RDs who have indicated that they are willing to be Preceptors.  You may find the list on the Find a Preceptor link on the ACEND section eatright.org/pro if you are a Student Member.
  • Professional organizations of any kind.
  • If someone is leaning toward agreeing to be a Preceptor but has questions that you cannot answer to their satisfaction, you may have them call or email the Program Director at Priority Nutrition Care Distance Dietetic Internship. 781-264-6877

I have identified my Preceptors.  Now what should I do?

Eventually we will be asking your Preceptors to submit a completed Preceptor form ONLINE at www.PNCDDI.com under the Information for Preceptors Tab . This form serves as documentation that the Preceptor has agreed to precept you and provides the information that we need to determine that the Preceptor has the appropriate credentials.Be aware that the Preceptor must agree to complete and submit the required documentation, which includes proof of credentials (i.e. Registration, Licensure etc.) and a list of recent continuing education activities.  This is a requirement of our accreditors.

What is a “practice site”?

The practice site/ facility is an organization or business that provides the opportunity for the intern to complete the required supervised practice such as a hospital, nursing home, assisted living,  clinic,  public health agency, neighborhood health center, university dining center, home care company, school system, nutrition or food related business.

Please note that we have very specific requirements for rotations at private practices. The Preceptor must be full time (40 hours per week) with a full service office (not in a home). The Intern must have the opportunity to meet and counsel clients routinely (not just shadowing). 

What is an affiliation agreement or contract?

An affiliation agreement is a contract that is required between PNCDDI and the practice site/facility. These agreements will be completed between the PNCDDI legal counsel and the practice site/facility AFTER the intern has been matched to the program and before the Intern can start the supervised practice/internship. Occasionally some facilities prefer to use their own version of an agreement, in which case the legal counsel of PNCDDI and the practice site/facility attempt to work together to reach agreement. Please note: Not all affiliation agreements can be successfully negotiated.