The dietetic internship at WVU Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics accrediting agency for educational programs. Completing an accredited undergraduate program, graduate program, and dietetic internship is required to be eligible to take the registration examination to become a registered dietitian, effective Jan. 1, 2024. The examination requirements are set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The program is currently accredited through June 30, 2026.

To become a registered dietitian nutritionist, a path of higher education is a must, as well as a dietetic internship from an ACEND-accredited program and passing the national registration examination. The pathway listed below is a common route many traditional students take, but it is not the only path to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

Steps to Become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

  1. Earn a degree from an accredited dietetics program. Classes vary according to program, but in general, coursework covers subjects that may range from food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociology, and communication, to science courses, such as biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, anatomy, and chemistry. Note: Effective Jan. 1, 2024, a minimum of a master’s degree will be required to be eligible for the RDN exam.
  2. Complete a supervised practice requirement. In addition to earning a degree, individuals must complete at least 1,000 hours of supervised practice to gain real-world experience and apply knowledge learned in the classroom to the context of a variety of work settings.
  3. Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s dietetic registration exam.
  4. Gain licensure in your state of practice, if applicable.
  5. Maintain continuing education.

Accreditation is necessary because dietetics is a unique profession of such complexity and benefit to the health of the population that it requires a defined educational process based on national standards. ACEND is responsible for setting the national standards for what dietetics students are taught, and for evaluating, recognizing, and publishing a list of education programs that meet these standards.

ACEND accreditation is important to students because:

  • The ACEND educational standards are developed and accepted by practicing dietetics and nutrition professionals nationwide.
  • It means that the programs will provide the knowledge, skills, and/or competencies you need for entry into the dietetics profession.
  • Only graduates from an accredited/approved academic program are able to apply for accredited dietetic internships leading to the registered dietitian exam.
  • Only graduates from an accredited dietetic internship or coordinated program are able to take the registered dietitian exam.

In short, ACEND accreditation signifies quality education for your chosen profession.

(Information courtesy of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

Academic Requirements
The Commission for Dietetic Registration establishes requirements for eligibility to take the entry-level registration examinations for dietitians and dietetic technicians. Current requirements include academic preparation, supervised practice, and confirmation of academic and practice requirements by verification. These requirements are periodically reviewed and are subject to change.

Academic Degree
Minimum of a baccalaureate degree granted by a U.S. regionally accredited college/university or foreign equivalent.

Current Minimum Academic Requirements
Completion of an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics. All didactic programs in dietetics are listed in the Directory of Dietetics Programs.

Supervised Practice Requirements
All dietetic education programs accredited by ACEND must be in the U.S. or its territories. Supervised practice requirements stipulate completion of one of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics-accredited or approved pathways.

Accredited Dietetic Internship Program
WVU Medicine provides for the achievement of performance requirements for entry-level dietitians through a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised practice and the completion of the exam requirements as set forth by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The program follows completion of an accredited didactic program in dietetics through ACEND and a master’s degree. (Information from the Commission on Dietetic Registration website)

Licensure for Registered Dietitians
As per West Virginia Code, § 30-35-1 (a), “anyone who represents or implies to the public by use of the title ‘dietitian’ or ‘licensed dietitian’ or any other title intended to convey the impression that he or she is authorized to practice dietetics in this state must be licensed.”

See the West Virginia licensure website for information on becoming a provisional licensed dietitian once you have a verification statement from an accredited dietetic internship/coordinated program or licensure if you are already a registered dietitian wanting to practice in the state of West Virginia.

The 10-month internship program provides a balanced opportunity to gain experiences in the areas of clinical, administrative, and community dietetics, but offers an emphasis in medical nutrition therapy. Students will receive a WVU Medicine Dietetic Internship Handbook during the summer to review the program.

Orientation occurs during the first week of the internship. During this time, each student is given a copy of the syllabus, which contains: schedules/calendar, nutrition services policies and procedures, dietetic internship policies and procedures, guidelines and standards, program information, and unit experiences. The dietetic internship director will review the entire syllabus and provide classes pertinent to entry-level student skill development.