Montana State University

MSU dietetics program and dietetic internship receive accreditation

November 3, 2015 -- Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

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The Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics in the Montana State University College of Education, Health and Human Development and the Montana Dietetic Internship at MSU recently received full accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, or ACEND.

Both programs were accredited for seven years.

Accreditation is important to the students in the programs, as well as to the state of Montana, according to Alison Harmon, interim dean of the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development.

“In order for our graduating students to be eligible to become credentialed registered dietitian nutritionists and licensed practitioners, our undergraduate program and dietetic internship must be ACEND accredited,” Harmon said. “Having accreditation at MSU is a service to our students and supports the food and nutrition profession in the state of Montana.”

The MSU Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics is an option within the food and nutrition major at MSU and has a strong foundation in food and nutrition, food service management and science, according to Melody Anacker, director of the program. It is the only dietetics program offered within the state of Montana. 

“The MSU Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics prepares graduates to be successful in obtaining accredited supervised practice programs, such as the Montana Dietetic Internship,” Anacker said. “Our program is a student-centered curriculum that promotes an understanding of sustainable food systems in relationship to health. It also fosters a strong commitment to the community through service learning and engagement.”

The Montana Dietetic Internship at MSU is a non-degree practice experience for graduates of the Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics. After completing the internship, students are eligible to take the national board exam to become certified as a registered dietician.

The internship program began in 2011 with 14 interns; since then it has grown in numbers and now has 20 interns this year, according to Coleen Kaiser, director of the Montana Dietetic Internship.

Kaiser said interns complete several weeks of the internship in Bozeman and the surrounding area and then proceed to complete the majority of their rotations in one of five locations: Billings, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula. Each intern also completes a two-week rotation at a critical access hospital in a rural community, such as Livingston, Big Timber, Miles City, Anaconda, Whitefish, Conrad, Browning, Ronan or Polson, among other sites. 

“The strength of the Montana Dietetic Internship is rooted in a complex collaboration among multiple healthcare facilities, state and private agencies, and MSU faculty and administration,” Kaiser said. She added that the program currently has contractual relationships with 62 sites in Montana, involving approximately 75 preceptors. 

Accreditation for the dietetics option at MSU and the Montana Dietetic Internship was based on a self-study, a site visit report from a visiting team and MSU’s response to the team’s report.

More information about the dietetics option is available at http://www.montana.edu/hhd/undergrad/foodandnutrition/dietetics/index.html.To learn more about the Montana Dietetic Internship, visit http://www.montana.edu/hhd/nondegree/mdi.html.

Contact: Melody Anacker, (406) 994-6337 or manacker@montana.edu; or Coleen Kaiser, (406) 994-5022 or coleenk@montana.edu