Learning Experiences

Dietetic Interns at UCSF Medical Center participate in all activities of the Nutrition and Food Services Department.  Teaching interns is an integral part of our department’s mission and goals.  Interns work individually or in groups of two or three with a supervising staff member for all major learning experiences.

Inpatient Clinical Nutrition

In inpatient clinical nutrition learning experiences, interns first learn basic skills for clinical nutrition care of hospitalized adult patients during the clinical nutrition core. Under the supervision of a registered dietitian, interns practice the nutrition care process to assess a patient's nutrition status, provide an intervention, and monitor the patient's response. 

  • Interns gather and analyze nutritionally relevant data from the electronic medical record and interviews with patients and/or caregivers. 
  • Interns use their clinical knowledge and resources to develop, implement, and communicate appropriate interventions. 
  • Interns work with the interdisciplinary team and the patient to monitor the patient's progress and adjust as needed. 

Because UCSF is a teaching medical center, many of our patients have complex medical conditions and nutrition diagnoses. UCSF interns gain significant experiences with both enteral and parenteral nutrition support, as well as other medical nutrition therapies for a variety of diseases. Following approximately four months of experience in the adult inpatient area, interns progress to advanced clinical nutrition learning experiences in adult critical care units and in pediatrics.

Management

Management learning experiences encompass institutional food service management, retail food service management, and clinical management. Food service experiences take place in our large, room service/on demand kitchen at UCSF Medical Centers at Parnassus and Mission Bay. Under the supervision of a chef, RD managers and other managers and supervisors, interns participate in large scale food production, purchasing, patient meal service, and cafeteria merchandizing and sales. Interns participate in daily operations and work on projects related to department needs such as analysis of systems, development of policies and procedures, performance improvement and quality control, special cafeteria and patient menus, and employee training.

Nutrition Counseling and Education

Interns complete learning experiences in Nutrition Counseling and Education following completion of foundational clinical experiences.

Interns will complete a week at our Diabetes Teaching Center, practicing counseling and education skills.

They will also spend two weeks at an an off-site community food/nutrition program or agency in the San Francisco Bay Area; the site is chosen by the intern to meet their interests. While the specific learning experiences vary by the selected site and services provided, interns gain experience with community-based screening and assessment, participate in program development and evaluation, and conduct education for target populations.
 

Staff Experience

After demonstration of competence, interns complete a minimum of two weeks of staff experience in inpatient clinical nutrition. Staff experiences solidify interns' knowledge, provide an opportunity to function independently, and reinforce expected practices for an entry-level dietitian. Interns are supervised by a registered dietitian.

Elective Experiences

Elective experiences offer opportunities to work with dietitians in a variety of UCSF sites including additional experience in adult and pediatric inpatient rotations or outpatient specialty clinics. Off-site electives can be coordinated if scheduling permits; the intern is responsible for the majority of coordination for off-site electives. 

Other Intern Classes

In addition to didactic experiences that are scheduled during the learning experiences described above, the following class series are scheduled during the internship year:

  • Legislation and Public Policy
  • Professional Development and Career Building
  • Interdisciplinary care

Intern Projects

Over the course of the year interns complete several projects. Projects include a formal case study presentation, journal article review, and creation of patient education materials.