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I wasn’t sure whether to post about this at all, but I know that some of my friends and relatives may be asking. Twice a year, prospective dietetic interns go through the application process and engage in computer matching in hopes of being placed at an internship site where they can complete the standardized training required before they may take the RD exam.

While the field of dietetics has grown tremendously in recent years, programs have not grown to meet the increased number of students interested in becoming registered dietitians. As a result, these internship programs are now incredibly competitive. Last November, the acceptance rate was only 44% nationwide—that leaves 56% of applicants, many of them fully qualified, out in the cold. Fortunately, students can apply multiple times, and they may have a better shot in the spring semester, when more programs accept new interns.

There are many sides to this “internship shortage” issue, and it affects students and RDs in various kinds of ways. I actually was a contributing writer on a piece in the Winter 2010 issue of the ADA Times titled, “Creating Our Competition: Why the Dietetics Internship Shortage is as Important to your Future as it is to the Practitioners of Tomorrow.”

My sister's new tattoo—soothing words in trying times...

For that piece, I interviewed several students about their experiences with multiple applications and rejections. At the time, I was a year away from going through that process myself, and I was really hoping to escape the frustration. Their pain lit a fire under me to push myself and work as hard as I could.

But alas. Last night I logged on and was met with an impersonal, “I regret to inform you…”

Who regrets to inform me? The computer system that matched applicants to sites? Awesome. Seriously. Needless to say, the writer in me appreciates the irony of the fact that I helped write the article that exposed the internship shortage and yet went unmatched myself this first time around.

To my credit, I was only able to apply to one site this matching period, so I know I shouldn’t feel too bad, as the odds were insanely long. Still, it’s hard when all your work, all your best efforts, just aren’t good enough to get you what you’d set your sights on. It just goes to show that good grades, clinical experience, and a sincere essay aren’t always good enough. That I’ve never once landed a position I interviewed for in my black suit should also be a tip-off. Note to self: go shopping and learn to walk in heels.

I have a chance to apply to a lot more sites in February, and I have a lot of really great Plan B options to put into action. My mother always says that when the universe closes one door, it opens a window, and while my momentary urge is to throw things and scream, “Well then this had better be some f-ing window!” I know she’s right. Taking fewer masters courses and not starting the internship this spring will allow me more time for some of the projects I’ve been putting off.

5 thoughts on “Irony

    Maiken said:
    November 16, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Best wishes with this spring’s application process… what are the determining factors, anyway? Just GPA and volunteer experience? Do they require letters of recommendation?

    Jess responded:
    November 16, 2010 at 4:05 am

    Thanks. The determining factors include all of the above (grades, volunteer experience, recommendations) plus an essay and transcripts. A lot of sites also require interviews.

    For better or worse, it’s pretty objective and very involved. I had hoped that all my clinical experience would help boost my chances, but who really knows how they decide? I mean, there’s even a computer matching program with crazy formulas involved. I’m planning to meet with the director of my program to see if I can find out what may make my next application stronger though.

    Ultimately, my main career goals are to work with patients and to write, maybe research will fit in there somewhere. Fortunately, I can do all of those things right now—I already am doing most of them. While becoming an RD is important for someone who wants to work in nutrition counseling (especially clinical), at least it’s possible to do stuff in the field before getting those two capital letters after your name.

    The Get In Shape Girl said:
    November 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Keep trying, keep studying, keep blogging & it will all workout in the end. Good luck.

      Jess responded:
      November 20, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks : )

    My 7 Links | Keeping It Real Food said:
    July 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    […] Proud Even though it was an entry about setbacks, I was really proud of myself for posting about the first time I applied for my dietetic internship—and didn’t get in. I was so disappointed but I didn’t want to run and hide and pretend like it was nothing. It […]

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