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Dietetic Internship: Community Rotation

I'm finally getting around to writing a bit more about each rotation. I know I touched briefly on the process of a dietetic internship, but everyone has a unique experience, so I wanted to tell you all about mine.

I had the opportunity to spend my 6-week community nutrition rotation at a Hy-Vee store in the Twin Cities. Every single Hy-Vee has it's own dietitian in-store, so if you're not sure how to get connected to a dietitian, Hy-Vee is a great place to start! While I spent most of my time with Kristina Swanson, RDN, I was also able to spend a day at a few other stores as well and gain a wide variety of experience. So what types of things did we do?

Kids Cooking Classes

This is one of the most common things you'll find a Hy-Vee dietitian doing, and we did 1-2 per week during my rotation. These classes are an hour long and focus on making delicious recipes while teaching kids a bit about nutrition. Depending on the age group, the teaching aspect of it ranged from just showing them MyPlate to what different nutrients do for the body and in what foods you can find them. The classes were themed around a season, holiday, or movie, and we would make anything from muffins to smoothies to parfaits. It was fun to be able to teach even small facts of nutrition to such young kids--my favorite experience was an 8-year old telling me about how much she loves spinach because she was getting so much Vitamin K from it.

Meal Prep Classes

Another cool thing that evolved even while I was spending my 6 weeks with Hy-Vee were the meal prep classes. The first class I did was actually a meal prep class for teens at a community center. This was a big process, because we had to shop for and bring all of the ingredients we needed with us to the community center. Our two day event resulted in roughly 120 meals prepped.

Back at the store, the majority of the meal prep classes we did were Instant Pot meal prep. We did all of the shopping, set-up and clean-up, and all participants had to do was show up, put ingredients in a bag, grab the recipe and go! As simple as it sounds, the perk of this class is that attendees were able to ask us questions about nutrition, food and even about their Instant Pot.

One-on-One Counseling Sessions

This is often what you'd think of when you think of a dietitian. These sessions were with people going through a 10-week program in order to improve their health, whatever their concerns were. The program focused a lot on behavior change, education and support for each participant. They meet every week with the dietitian and focus on a new topic--anything from building a balanced plate to gluten-free cooking for a new celiac diagnosis. If there were specific concerns, we would walk them through it and work with them to set goals related to that.

Free Store Tours

The thing I personally enjoyed the most was leading store tours, because each tour was so different. During my time at Hy-Vee I gave stour tours for: heart health, diabetes, a dietitian-led bariatric weight loss group, prenatal nutrition, and a girl scout troop. During a store tour, you'll learn about some of our favorite healthy products, foods that best fit your needs, importance of different foods in the diet and how to incorporate new foods into your meals.

Store Signage

This is a less exciting aspect of being a Hy-Vee dietitian and highly requested by the store manager. Those little circles on the shelves that say, "dietitian's choice?" That's what I'm talking about. We would take a few hours every week to walk through the store and sign new products or products that we think fit certain criteria for different concerns, such as gluten-free, low-sodium or heart healthy.

Product Sampling

About once a week we would do product sampling in the store, either with the Hy-Vee Dietitians pick of the month, or something we felt was fitting or deserved some attention. For example, Starbucks released their pumpkin drinks, so we sampled pumpkin rice crispy treats made with Kashi cereal, our pick of the month.

Meal Plans

Lastly, the Twin Cities dietitians had created meal plans for different calorie levels and I was there during the final stages or development and launch. I had the opportunity to help proof the meal plans and work on a budget-friendly version including original recipes. During my last week, I was able to sit in on an initial session with a client who had signed up for the meal plans.

Internship Projects

On top of the day-to-day responsibilities, I also had projects to complete for my program in order to help meet the competencies set forth by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. ACEND accredits all dietetic internships, and every dietetic intern needs to complete these competencies in order to sit for the RD exam. The big project for this rotation had a prenatal focus. Most interns spend some time at WIC and gain experience working with pregnancy and new mothers. While I didn't get that specific experience, my project focused on creating educational materials on nutrition for pregnancy and breastfeeding. To go along with the pamphlet I created, I designed and implemented a prenatal nutrition store tour and developed a recipe high in the extra nutrients needed during pregnancy. All of these being evidence-based of course.

Overall, Hy-Vee was a great place to start and ease into the internship. It was fun, it was different every day, and my preceptor was awesome! We had so many conversations about different fads, tried new products from different brands, created social media marketing materials and had a blast along the way.

Have any questions about this rotation? Let me know!


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