Dietetic Practicum Program at Acadia University
Students who wish to become professional dietitians must meet all the requirements mandated by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP) and complete either an accredited integrated or graduate dietetic practicum in addition to their university program. Acadia University's Dietetic Practicum Program is a competitive, accredited, professional program. It was developed in consultation with dietitians from Western Nova Scotia to fulfill the need for more dietetic practicum placements for our students. Thus, a partnership was created between Acadia University and the Western Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. In May of 1999, the first three dietetic practicum students entered the program.
The Acadia University Dietetic Practicum Program is highly competitive and there is no guarantee of acceptance. Entry to the practicum program is based on a strong academic standard, participation in course work, active involvement in volunteer activities, favourable references and a positive interview.
Acadia University offers two practicum streams (graduate and integrated) to students registered full-time at Acadia who are working towards the requirements of the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition degree (Dietetics option). The four-year Dietetics option is an accredited program recognized by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP) and prepares students for eligibility for registration with a provincial dietetics regulatory body. A maximum of twelve students per year work with dietitians in the Western Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority to complete the requirements mandated by the Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP) to earn the Professional Dietitian designation. The Dietetic Practicum Program provides students with the opportunity to work with a variety of individuals in the field and enables students (specifically those in the integrated stream) to bring their experience back to the classroom. This is beneficial for both the students and their peers.
The Integrated Practicum is 48 weeks in length and is accomplished in two levels - Level I (Nutr 4033), which is 16 weeks in length, is completed from May to August between third and fourth year. Level 2 (Nutr 4043) is 32 weeks in length and it takes place between May and December after the fourth year of study. Pre-requisites for application to this program are as follows: A grade of B- in each of Nutr 1323 (Human Nutrition 2), Nutr 1343 (Food Commodities 2), Nutr 3713 (Introduction to Communication) and Nutr 3723 (Principles of Nutritional Assessment); a minimum GPA of 2.67 and must be a full-time student in the School of Nutrition and Dietetics for at least one academic year, and be working towards the requirements of the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition degree (Dietetics option). In 2007, it was decided that in addition to the integrated practicum placements, we would also offer a graduate practicum option to students who choose to apply in their fourth year of study. For these students, the practicum program is completed in 48 consecutive weeks following their graduation from Acadia.
Applications are available in the fall of each year. A maximum of twelve new dietetic practicum students per year are selected. There is an in-person interview process and students are notified of the results of their application by Prof. Connie Foote, Coordinator of the program. A selection committee consisting of School of Nutrition and Dietetics faculty members and dietitians representing the Western Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority determine the short-list of applicants to be interviewed. In-person interviews are conducted during Acadia's study week in February. Eligible students planning to apply to the dietetic practicum program should not make travel plans for the study week. Telephone or video interviews will not be offered.
Students admitted to the Acadia Dietetic Practicum Program are expected to maintain a high academic standing in any remaining courses. Failure to do so may lead to a review of acceptance to the practicum. Students must meet the academic requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Nutrition (Dietetics option) to graduate from Acadia University.
The faculty of the School of Nutrition and Dietetics and the dietitians of the Western Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority work together to provide the dietetic practicum students with many opportunities and learning experiences to meet the competencies required to complete the program. The students observe and participate in a variety of relevant learning experiences in the dietetics field. The program involves numerous rotations in the Western Zone, including the core areas of Nutrition Care, Management (food services and administration) and Population and Public Health. Long Term Care placements are also part of the program. Other less traditional placements may also be incorporated into the program. A practice-based research project and completion of a research seminar are required components of the practicum.
Dietetics is a dynamic field encompassing many aspects of health and health care. Acadia's Dietetic Practicum Program allows undergraduates to apply for a practicum program in a less competitive environment, as only students who are full-time in the Acadia University School of Nutrition and Dietetics are eligible to apply.
As mentioned, dietetic practicum students work within the Western Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority and part of the requirement is a willingness to find accommodations near the facility (a regional hospital) where the practicum is based. There are placements which take place outside of the facility setting so dietetic practicum students must be willing and able to travel to each placement site. All expenses related to accommodation and transportation are the responsibility of the student. Tuition in 2016-2017 is the equivalent of two (3h) course fees. The practicum is an unpaid educational period. Graduates of the practicum program are eligible to practice as registered dietitians upon application to a provincial regulatory body and successful completion of a national registration examination.
For more information, please contact:
Connie Foote, PDt
Coordinator, Dietetic Practicum Program