A practicum will give you real-world experience under the direction of one or more qualified dietetics professionals.
Students can learn more about the nutrition and dietetics profession by completing a 3-credit-hour practicum course. By working with an experienced preceptor, students apply knowledge from their classes in a real-life setting and begin to develop professional contacts in the field. The practicum courses (Peer Nutrition Educators: NUTR 5800 and Dietetics Practicum: NUTR 5910) are elective courses that are outside of the requirements for the ACEND®-accredited didactic program in dietetics. As applicable, the insurance requirements, liability for safety in travel to or from assigned areas, injury or illness while in a facility, drug testing, criminal background checks, and the requirement that students enrolled in the practicum must not be used to replace employees, can be found in each of our courses below.
Deadlines to Apply
Peer Nutrition Educators; NUTR 5800: March 31
Dietetics Practicum: NUTR 5910: Fall semester (January 31), Spring semester (July 31), Summer (October 31)
Peer Nutrition Educators: NUTR 5800
Peer Nutrition Educators (PNEs) work side-by-side with campus Registered Dietitians to provide informative programs to student groups on campus. PNEs are trained by the University Health Center and UGA Dining Services Registered Dietitians. PNEs provide nutrition presentations and one-to-one nutrition advisement to their UGA peers. Training occurs each summer for implementation for fall and spring semesters.
Course credits: 3 semester hours
Deadline to apply: March 31
The PNE program counts as a practicum for Dietetics and Culinary Science majors. Nutritional Sciences majors can use the course for NUTR 5010 (Directed Research in Nutrition Science). Exercise Science or Public Health majors can also take the course as an elective.
Students who are interested in participating in the program should complete the NUTR Dietetics Practicum Advisement Checklist below. Applications are due by March 1st and interviews will be conducted thereafter. The PNE class will be selected March-April. The course will be taught June and July; campus outreach and education hours are performed the following fall and spring semesters.
After completing the course, Peer Nutrition Educators fulfill requests for nutrition programs for residence halls, sororities, fraternities, student groups and community groups. PNEs also promote healthy eating and good nutrition through media interviews, newspaper articles, and staffing health fairs and screenings. PNEs participate with University Health Services and University Dining Services for special events and conferences.
Throughout the course the PNEs improve their skills in researching topics, developing programs, and in presenting this information to an audience. PNEs also assess their personal health behaviors and examine processes involved in health behavior change.
As representatives of the University and the Dietetics profession, PNEs are expected to display professionalism and sensitivity in their endeavors. PNEs are expected to develop competency in basic nutrition education, but they are also expected to know their limitations. A knowledge of local resources is essential for those times when referral is appropriate.
Steps to Apply
Students who are interested in participating in this program must complete the NUTR 5800 Peer Nutrition Education Program Advisement Checklist to receive your advisor's approval. A cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher is required in order to apply for and register for NUTR 5800.
After the course instructor reviews and approves your submitted Advisement Checklist, you will be invited to register for ths course. Deadline to apply is March 31st each year.
- Please contact Katherine Ingerson if you have any questions.
Dietetics Practicum: NUTR 5910
Practicum sites are on campus, in Athens, or out of the area. This course is offered fall, spring, and summer each year.
Dr. Emma Laing- Fall, Spring
Dr. Lauren Housley- Summer
Course credits: 3 semester hours, 135 hours of experience:
- 120 hours of supervised practice
- 15 hours in related assignments
Deadlines to apply: Fall semester (January 31), Spring semester (July 31), Summer (October 31)
Below are the possible practicum sites for NUTR 5910.
DO NOT contact the Athens area preceptors directly. Once you have completed the advisement checklist and you are approved for a practicum, you will be asked to provide a list of preferred practicum sites.
St. Mary’s Hospital
- 1-2 students accepted per semester
- Work with clinical inpatient dietitian (1 student)
- Work with diabetes education dietitian (1 student)
- In the summer, only diabetes education is available
Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center
- 2 students accepted per semester
- Work with clinical dietitian (1 student)
- Work with diabetes educator (1 student)
- In the summer, only diabetes education is available
Cooperative Extension Program
- 1-2 students per semester
Work with state and local level cooperative extension agents to plan and deliver nutrition programs, write articles and pamphlets for public
Public Health Nutrition
- 1 student per semester
- Work with dietitians and health educators to plan and deliver nutrition programs and observe client counseling in WIC and other clinics
Sports Nutrition at UGA
- 1-2 students per semester
Review educational materials on sports nutrition, observe nutrition counseling sessions, observe/participate in team presentations, contribute to the Sports Nutrition Newsletter, help develop educational materials, help with bone density/body composition scans, and supermarket shopping tours
Other Potential Sites
- School Nutrition
- Long-term Care
- Clarke County Wellness
- Private Practice
UGA Research Lab
Out of the Area
Work with a registered and licensed dietitian elsewhere
- You must get permission from the registered dietitian to do a practicum experience, and the facility must also agree to allow the practicum rules
- You will be asked to provide the name, address, email, and phone number of the dietitian you plan to work with after your advisement checklist is submitted and you are invited to complete the Request for Practicum Site
- Your course instructor will communicate with the registered dietitian concerning the practicum requirements and will need to have a formal agreement signed before you can begin
Steps to Apply
- Students who are interested in participating in this program must complete the NUTR 5910 Dietetics Practicum Advisement Checklist in order to obtain your advisor's approval. A cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher is required in order to register for NUTR 5910.
- After the course instructor reviews and approves your Advisement Checklist, you will be invited by email to complete a Request Form for Practicum Site. You can find a list of possible practicum sites below. After reviewing your Practicum Site requests, Dr. Laing (Fall and Spring) or Dr. Housley (Summer) will inform you of your assigned practicum site and the contact information for your preceptor. They will also provide information on an orientation, background check, and immunization requirements for a hospital setting.
Procedures for Hospital Placements
Hospitals require background checks, drug screens, TB tests, and/or immunization records, and may require medical exams, a flu shot, and completion of CPR training. You are responsible for the costs of these procedures. The typical cost for the background check and drug screen is $95.00. Purchasing liability insurance (approximately $37) is also required for hospital settings. CPR costs approximately $85. Two TB tests cost approximately $45. If your site uses ACEMAPP, there is a $50 charge to students. See more below about ACEMAPP procedures.*
*ACEMAPP Procedures (for hospital placements only):
Most hospitals use Acemapp. Your instructor will enter your name and contact info into Acemapp, and you will be contacted by them with instructions on how to upload your documents there. Other helpful hints for the required procedures are below:
For the Immunizations, you likely have most of them (see their list of requirements). But you will need to get some recent TB tests within a certain time frame. The UGA Health Center can do the TB tests. When complete, print your immunization record from the University Health Center (Go to: http://www.uhs.uga.edu/appts_forms/health_records.html, it is suggested that you use Chrome or Explorer). This record will need to be uploaded to Acemapp.
For Criminal Background and Drug Screening, you will need a drug screen/background check by Advantage. To ensure successful integration between ACEMAPP and Advantage Students, please confirm the following steps have been performed:
- Log in to your ACEMAPP account.
- From your Central Dashboard, click the "View Student &/or View Clinical Faculty Home" button (this button is blue). You will then be brought to your Student &/or Clinical Faculty page.
- Click on the "Advantage Students" logo on your Student home page.
- Confirm that your email addresses match between your ACEMAPP account and your Advantage Students account.
- Confirm that your reports have been completed and certified within your Advantage Students account.
- Confirm that you have shared any & all of your reports with the appropriate school &/or clinical site.
- Confirm that there are no outstanding items or flags in your Advantage Students report.
- Confirm that your reports are not expired, if applicable (there will be a red notification beneath the School &/or Hospital you have shared with if your reports are expired).
For a step-by-step guide to this process, you may also refer to our Help Desk article.
- Note: Please pay special attention to the FAQ section if the above steps do not work.
If you have ensured the above steps have been performed and are still unable to link your accounts, please contact Advantage Students at (800) 800-3774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will need CPR certification, and it must be Basic Life Support (BLS) from the American Heart Association. Many students use AthensCPR.com.
You will also need Professional Liability Insurance. Most students use HPSO.com. You will have to upload a copy of your policy to Acemapp which you usually get within 48 hrs after applying.
For Piedmont sites:
Go to the Piedmont website (https://www.piedmont.org), Click on For Medical Professionals at the top, and the Click on Student Orientation on the left side and follow the directions.
Once Your Placement Has Been Secured
- Email your preceptor to introduce yourself and set an appointment to discuss a schedule.
- Once you are informed of the requirements for your practicum site, the orientation, background checks, and other needed procedures, including the requirement that students enrolled in the practicum must not be used to replace employees, should be started. It takes as long as 2 months to complete this process, so you must plan to start this in June for a Fall practicum, in November for a Spring practicum, and by early March for a summer practicum.
- Once you speak with your preceptor, finalize your practicum schedule. You should plan to log approximately 9 hours per week (in summer, 16 hours per week) to total 125 hours (and one hour per week should be obtained in related experiences or assignments so that your total time logged is 135 hours). These hours are flexible from week-to-week, as some weeks you may work more or less in your practicum's facility.
- Once you have submitted the requirements for your site, your course instructor will submit a POD (permission of department form), and you should now register for NUTR 5910.
To receive course credit
- Read and follow the Professional Guidelines for a Practicum (see below). For example, be certain to call your preceptor if you are not able to be there when you are scheduled. You must make up the hours that you miss. If this happens, discuss with your preceptor how best to do this.
- Keep a Practicum Activity Log of hours and types of activities throughout the practicum, which will be submitted to eLC toward the end of the semester.
- At the midpoint of your practicum, you must complete and submit the Mid-Point Evaluation form to eLC.
- Be sure to read the instructions carefully for your final paper (4-5 pages in length; please find instructions in the syllabus).
- At the completion of your practicum, your preceptor must complete and submit the Final Evaluation Form directly to the course instructor via email. Points will be determined based on your preceptor's rating/comments about your performance.
Expectations and tips for a successful practicum
Students who present themselves in a positive and professional manner pave their way to a promising future career.
Practicum students primarily function in the role of learner, but part of the assignment is to be of assistance to the facility or agency wherever possible. The preceptors are adding additional work to their daily schedule to supervise you. Successful performance of practicum duties can lead to useful professional contacts, job prospects, favorable letters of recommendation, etc.
Tips for a successful practicum experience
- Call or email the agency two weeks prior to the start of your practicum to remind them that you are coming and to confirm start date and time, dress code, parking arrangements, etc. Complete any orientation needed.
- Be on time daily and report to the person or unit to whom you were directed. If that individual is not present or available, make your presence known to someone else in the office. Do not plan to leave early unless you have made arrangements with your preceptor.
- While at a health care facility, students are required to wear appropriate professional attire. The casual dress permissible on college campuses is not acceptable in professional settings. Flip-flops, shorts, jeans, t-shirts and skimpy tops are not appropriate. Hair must be neat and under control. Jewelry and make up should be appropriate for business settings. Shoes should be closed-toed (no sandals). At times, you may be at health-related events such as health fairs or school activities where jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes are the expected dress. Be sure to ask what to wear at these events.
- Once you have set a schedule, do not deviate from it. If you are sick or must be late, call and notify the appropriate person in the facility as soon as you know this and at least 30 minutes of the start of your scheduled time.
- Do not use the office telephone, computer, fax machine or other office supplies or facilities for personal or academic purposes unless you have been granted permission to do so. Do not wear headphones or earbuds in the facility. Cell phones should be off and put away. Hospitals have specific guidelines on cell phone use in patient care areas. If you feel you must have your cell phone on to receive emergency texts or calls, and this is allowed in your facility, it should be on silent.
- As part of your work, you may or may not have access to information is confidential. Consult with your preceptor about the types of information you may have legitimate access to, and the types of information that are off-limits to you, as well as about any procedures for protecting confidentiality.
- A certain amount of routine and tedious work comes with any position. It is appropriate for you to carry out such tasks as office work, just as others in the professional world do. It is only when you are asked to do these things far more than others in the agency, compromising your opportunities for exposure to the agency’s full range of other functions, that you should be concerned.
- Approach your practicum experience proactively. Ask questions of agency personnel. Ask what you can do to be useful, if you have time on your hands. Request certain experiences, if you think they are within your capabilities and would enhance your learning experience in the agency.
- Learn and follow all agency policies and procedures. When in doubt, ask.
- While you are in the agency, remember that you are not a regular employee. Please practice courtesy and respect to all employees.
- Introduce yourself to everyone you meet. You never know when you will meet these people again. They may be interviewing you for a job one day.
- Know your limitations. There are certain things that you cannot do. Don’t worry; some day it will be your turn.
- Follow instructions and listen when someone talks to you.
- Do not be afraid to acknowledge your limitations. If you feel uncomfortable doing something discuss this with your supervisor.
- Be as precise and accurate as you can when doing paperwork.
- Get to know other health care professionals. You can make lifelong friends who might help you with your career (or personal life) in the future.
If you are having a concern or a problem during your rotation, please contact your course instructor immediately.
Clinical Professor and Director of Dietetics
Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Dietetic Internship Program