Supervised Experiential Learning – Practicum Courses

  • Community Nutrition

    This 320-hour professional worksite experience is a combination of nutrition counseling, federally funded community nutrition programs, and education programs work.

    In the nutrition counseling portion of this practica, individual and small group nutrition counseling practice focuses on clients in the areas of wellness, perinatal care, weight management, and disordered eating. Thus, students participate in the continuing care of diverse clientele.

    The federally funded community nutrition programs portion of this practica, students are involved in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children as well as the USDA PowerUp nutrition education program. Continuing to build on counseling-related skills, students also incorporate instructional design that includes active learning strategies. Lesson presentations and subsequent evaluation will be observed and practiced. Emphasis is on enhancing oral communication skills while incorporating current instructional technology to provide food and nutrition education for a variety of target audiences.

    Finally, in the education programs work, students develop and implement lessons for adults and children of various ages, design nutrition education displays, and develop nutrition-based videos for use in multiple media platforms.

    Clinical (Acute Care and Long-term Care)

    Two practicum courses, Clinical 1 and Clinical 2, focus in the areas of long-term care (96 hours) and acute care (224 hours) for a total of 320 clinical hours at professional worksites. In the clinical practica, students practice medical nutrition therapy and all aspects of the nutrition care process, under the supervision of registered dietitians. Students quickly progress from performing responsibilities of support staff to working side-by-side with both generalist and specialized dietetic professionals. Students perform staff relief at the end of the acute care portion of the rotation.

    In addition to applying medical nutrition therapy principles, students perform a quality management project and collect information for a case study presentation. In long-term care, students complete the standardized assessment for long-term care residents (MDS), represent residents at team care planning meetings, and work with speech pathologists.

    Food Service

    In the second summer, students engage in the food service practicum, which  includes 192-hours in a foodservice management professional worksite setting. Students are supervised by experienced foodservice managers and apply knowledge to all aspects of quantity food production, human resource management, application of HAACP plans, food safety and sanitation, budgeting, quality assurance, and evaluation. 

    Continuing Education Opportunities

    In addition to completing supervised practice hours (rotations), continuing education contributes to updating and expanding your professional knowledge base as well as expanding your network. Moreover, these group events allow students to gain hours. Students will attend the following:

    1. Scheduled meetings and transition days
    2. Western Pennsylvania Dietetic Education Study Group Seminars
    3. Pittsburgh Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    4. Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    5. Webinars, readings, and other opportunities are announced

    Attendance at one or more professional meetings and/or seminars for a total of 15 hours may be required depending on availability and time of year.

    All supervised experiential learning hours must be met, along with all required didactic coursework, to complete the MS in Food and Nutrition–DNP and receive a verification statement.