June 22, 2024

Morrison Healthcare’s Dietetic Internship: The Right Experience.

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Morrison Healthcare’s Dietetic Internship: The Right Experience.





A conversation with Sunitha Zechariah, PhD, RDN, LD, CNSC, FAND, Program Director, Dietetic Internship and Michelle Sagristano MS RDN Associate Director, Dietetic Internship at Morrison Healthcare 

Tell us about the Morrison Healthcare Dietetic Internship program.

Michelle: As the nation’s leading market employer of dietitians, we recognize the need for skilled and well-trained dietitians. Our goal is to educate and train our future dietitians to be inspired and maintain a lifelong profession of passion and purpose. Our program is about creating a customized experience that caters to the career aspirations of the student. The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited internships are structured so that interns complete the required competencies necessary to meet exam requirements set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Sunitha: Yes. And our students are provided with prearranged rotations from conveniently accessible locations throughout the country and are trained by our extraordinarily talented Morrison dietitians and internship directors. We are fortunate to host nearly 40% diverse students and another 10% male students. Unsurprisingly, our program has graduated several hundred quality dietetic professionals, many of whom have become industry leaders.

What makes Morrison’s program different?

Sunitha: One of our biggest differentiators is that we have a lot of geographic locations to place students. We also have the capacity to hire them. For the majority of our interns, we have a job opportunity waiting for them.

Michelle: It can be hard to break into an industry and find the right opportunity, particularly if you want to stay close to home. Morrison Healthcare’s Dietetic Internship (MHC DI) provides an innovative learning experience that is customized to the location of the intern.

How has the program grown?

Michelle: I have worked with the Morrison Healthcare Dietetic Internship for the past 12 years. Since 2011, when we started the program, the Morrison Healthcare Dietetic Internship has successfully trained and graduated over 600 interns a little over half of which are employed within Morrison Healthcare and Compass Group. It is very rewarding to watch our students enter the program as recent college graduates and emerge well-trained and posed to become the next generation of nutrition leaders.

Sunitha: I feel like this growth is a strong indication of the value students place on the experience, and our track record speaks for itself.

How does the internship prepare students for a career?

Michelle: Unlike most internship programs, we place them in a rotation and help them find a job. We believe it’s an important part of the program and a key to helping our interns start out on the right foot. We pride ourselves on finding the right experience for interns.

Sunitha: Yes, and beyond healthcare, the program is backed by Morrison Healthcare’s parent company, Compass Group, which can provide additional exposure to other industries. If a student is interested in a niche space of dietetic work, the program has connections across the country to find hands-on experience in any industry.

How do you, as facilitators of the program, define success?

Sunitha: We take pride in seeing students succeed. More than half of the program’s graduates take a role with Morrison Healthcare and other Compass sectors following graduation, while others go on to thrive in other sectors. What’s most rewarding is seeing our interns become colleagues. Our program has trained several hundred quality dietetic professionals, many of whom have become industry leaders.

Michelle: And it is through the support of Morrison Healthcare and the continued development and advancement of our program that we are able to provide state-of-the art training to our students.  The hands-on training and preparation our students receive is second to none, and surveys from employers of our graduates show that 99% are very pleased with our students’ overall job performance at their one-year review.

Sunitha: And many of those come back to work with our current students as preceptors. It’s rewarding to continue to engage with students— and see where their careers take them.

How does the internship prepare students for a career?

Michelle: Unlike most internship programs, we place them in a rotation and help them find a job. We believe it’s an important part of the program and a key to helping our interns start out on the right foot. We pride ourselves on finding the right experience for interns.

Sunitha: Yes, and beyond healthcare, the program is backed by Morrison Healthcare’s parent company, Compass Group, which can provide additional exposure to other industries. If a student is interested in a niche space of dietetic work, the program has connections across the country to find hands-on experience in any industry.

What does the future look like for the program?

Michelle: We are continuing to collaborate with our University partners to offer multiple options for our students to complete their MS degree along with their internship. The demand for qualified registered dietitians continues to grow, and we offer a robust program that allows our students a flexible environment where we promote lifelong learning and professional growth in preparation for their dietetics career.

Sunitha: Our dietetic students are the foundation of our industry and the future hope of our profession. I am proud to be part of the Morrison Healthcare Dietetic Internship program, where we furnish an experiential learning environment unlike no other, that immerses our students in our unique culture and ignites their passion for a stimulating, rewarding career.

For a detailed breakdown of MHC DI’s program and schedule, visit www.rdinternship.com.

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