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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the First Time RD Exam Pass Rate for Your Program Graduates?

  • Over past 5 years: 100 percent
  • Since program inception (1996): 98 percent

What Projects are Interns Involved in Throughout the Internship?

Many, but they may change year to year depending on opportunity and need. Interns host health fairs and NNM, serve as nutrition coaches for our "Healthy Charleston Challenge" program, create/develop a marketing or branding campaign, establish a legislative platform, present a case study, systematically critique a research article, and even conduct their own research (just to name a few.)

What is the Average GPA Score Range of Students Accepted?

Average DPD GPA range between 3.5-3.8. Our minimum DPD GPA for application review is 3.1.

How do you Measure Intern Progress? Evaluations? Tests? Pre/post exams?

All of the above. Interns are evaluated after every rotation and project by their preceptors. The director also conducts a mid-year and year end evaluation with each intern (or more if needed). Interns conduct anonymous peer evaluations since this curriculum includes a great deal of group work.

Interns, too, evaluate rotations, preceptors, and the director through formative and summative evaluations.

Are the Doctors/Nurses at MUSC Collaborative with the RD Staff?

Yes. We are a teaching hospital with a student body of greater than 2600 in 6 different schools (medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy, graduate studies, and health professions). Interns will have the opportunity to work with other MUSC students. 

Are the Sites for Rotations in the Same Vicinity or do I Have to Travel to Other Cities?

There will be driving and a car is required. 85-90 percent of our rotations are local, meaning they are located 5-30 miles away. Those that are not local do not exceed roughly 45 miles. We try to pair interns up for longer-distance sites so they can carpool. There is no overnight with the exception of attending the SC Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual spring meeting (held in a different city each year).

Is there a Class Day for Interns?

Yes, every Monday in the Fall semester and every Friday in the spring semester. The director uses class time to allow for guest speaker presentations and for preceptors to orient interns on upcoming rotations. This time also allows for direct instruction, training, and formative assessment of individual and group project work performed during the 10.5-month program. Finally, class days allow opportunities for group field trips and excursions. This year, interns will get to spend a day at MUSC's premier Simulation Center prior to enhance their preparation for clinical rotations, visit a local television studio, and visit our local food bank.

How Much Would I Work with Other Interns in the Program?

A lot. Our interns become very close. They work on 5-7 group projects together. Many interns are paired or grouped in rotations as well. Many even choose to live together. 

What is your Concentration Emphasis?

We offer two: "Clinical MNT" and "Community Nutrition Promotion". Many rotations and projects are "shared" among both concentrations.

Can I Obtain Financial Aid for this Internship?

Technically, MUSC does not consider you a student because you are not earning academic credit or a degree here. For these reasons, we can keep "tuition" rates low and offer a no-interest payment plan to interns. Interns are able to defer existing loans from their didactic programs.

Can I Work Outside the Internship? What is Considered a Reasonable Schedule?

Historically, interns who needed to work outside the internship could reasonably handle 5-15 hours per week. This program does not require many weekend obligations, so it is recommended to only work weekends. There are quite a number of weeknights/evening obligations of this interns (i.e. the Healthy Charleston Challenge rotation is a 12-week rotation held every Thursday evening), thus working weeknights is not recommended.

What Free or Reduced-Rate Services are Available to Interns? 

Membership to the premier MUSC Student Wellness Center ($50/month), access to the Academic Writing Center (free), our state-of the art Library system (free), campus counseling services (free-if referred) and off-campus parking (free). Interns must pay for their meals, room/board, and living expenses. Many local apartment complexes offer discounts or special deals to MUSC students and interns.

Do You Survey Current and Graduate Interns on their Approval Rating of this Program?

Yes. Just prior to graduation, all interns are asked to complete a thorough evaluation of the program and the director. Results from the past 4 years indicate that 99 percent of interns felt their learning needs and expectations were met. Furthermore, 99 percent of alumni would recommend this program to others.

When employers of our alumni were polled 1 year after graduation, 99 percent felt this program provided quality preparation for entry-level practice.

Approximately how Many Applications do you Receive Each Year? 

In the past 3 years, we received an average of 130 applications per year (for spring match/fall start).

What is Your Program Completion Rate (Graduation Rate)?

We have a 100 percent graduation rate since program inception (1996). While all graduates have successfully completed the program within 150 percent of the planned time period, approximately 5 percent of those graduated one to six weeks late. Reasons for late graduation included a) the need to make up time from personal illness or family matter, or B) the requirement to repeat a rotation(s) and/or project assignment(s) due to the inability to meet basic competencies initially.

Where are the Majority of Your Current Interns from? The U.S. and/abroad?

Historically, our interns come from all over the U.S., however the majority of our applicant pool is from the southeastern region given our geographic location. We have no quotas or "favorites" among DPD program, graduate program, or US region. We are an equal opportunity university and comply with Acend's Values in Diversity.

To date, approximately 5 percent of intern graduate were international or minority descent and another 5 percent were male. We consider all applicants who complete an ACEND-accredited US DPD OR a Substantially Equivalent Internaional Program in Dietetics (ITC). However, this internship cannot accept international students here on student or work visas.

Is there a Possibility of Earning a Master's Degree?

Currently, this internship offers no credit towards a master's degree. We are a stand-alone internship. However, we hope to partner with existing MS and MPH programs by 2018/2019 to offer various coordinated, integrated tracks based on student interests. The tentative plan is for our interns to remain a full-time student in their master's degree program (at another university) while completing their internship at MUSC so they can be considered for federal financial aid. This internship would work with the universities offering the master's degree to coordinate education and training requirements so as to prevent duplication of learning experiences and promote the quickest route to qualify to sit for the RDN exam.

At the End of the Program, Interns get to Spend a Few Weeks to do Electives. Can you tell me more about What Interns Typically Choose?

Interns get to spend 3 weeks at the end of the program to complete elective rotations. While interns must set up the rotation initially themselves, each rotation is confirmed by the Director by approving planned learning objectives mutually developed between the intern and his/her preceptor. Some interns use these weeks as an opportunity to repeat a rotation they really enjoyed during the program. Some interns use this time to repeat a rotation they may have struggled in and feel they need further direction. Still some interns use this time to build upon a rotation they enjoyed but want to gain more experience in a different site/location/city, perhaps in the area they want to live after graduation. Often this is a route for interns to potentially land a job or at least begin to network. Finally, interns have used this time to gain experience in areas typically not seen in this internship, most likely out of Charleston. For instance, some interns set up a medical nutrition mission trip in South America and in Africa. Others have set up experiences in sports dietetics, eating disorders, and other specialty fields not typically offered in this internship.