IDI Program - FAQ's

IDI Program FAQ'S


What is IDI?
The Integrated Dietetic Internship Program (IDI) is offered by the StFX Department of Human Nutrition to provide StFX BSc Human Nutrition students with an opportunity to learn from a wide range of professionals working in different areas of dietetic practice. The IDI program is one of the routes available to complete the competencies required to write the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE) to become a Registered Dietitian.  Students have the option to apply to the IDI program in their third or fourth year of the BSc Human Nutrition degree program.

The goal of the StFX IDI Program is to enable eligible students enrolled in the Human Nutrition program at St. Francis Xavier University to attain standards for competency in preparation for entry into dietetic practice. The integration of academic and experiential learning will enable students (interns) to complete the final steps towards becoming practicing dietitians and prepare them for the national exam. IDI interns will have the opportunity to apply and test theories related to food and nutrition gained through the academic setting and in planned work experiences within various dietetic practice settings.

What are the benefits of being an IDI intern?
Some benefits of the IDI program are:      

  • The program provides experiential learning where interns are able to apply knowledge from classes and learn hands-on skills while in practice.         
  • The program allows students to take skills learned in practice and apply them in their studies during their final year of study.       
  • The high level of support and communication provided by the Internship Coordinator, the Department of Human Nutrition, and fellow interns.       
  • The program allows interns to begin to work towards gaining competencies after 3rd year, which is something that is not available through graduate internship programs.

How is the IDI Program structured?
The IDI program is made up of three practicums, each consisting of placements. Each practicum is approximately 14 weeks long. A mandatory orientation is required before entering Practicum I and II.     

  • Practicum I (Summer after 3rd year/4th year) - 14 weeks (usually 3x 4-5 weeks/placements)      
  • Practicum I provides interns with a holistic view of opportunities within the nutrition profession. Interns will be exposed to areas of food service management, community, and clinical dietetics with the guidance of a preceptor.      

Practicum II & III (Following Graduation) - 14-16 weeks     

  • One practicum focuses on two of the three pathways; Community and food service management. This Practicum occurs after graduation and is 14 weeks long consisting of two 7 week/placements.     
  • One practicum focuses solely on clinical dietetics in a health care setting. This Practicum occurs after graduation and is approximately 14 weeks to16 weeks long.
  • Within each practicum, students will work with one or more preceptors. A preceptor is a dietitian or other professionals that supervise/guide your learning during your placement.      
  • The practicums encompass the following Integrated Competencies for Dietetic Education and Practice (ICDEP):     
  • Professional Practice     
  • Communication & Collaboration      
  • Nutrition Care      
  • Population and Public Health      
  • Management

Each intern is required to complete a research project by the end of their internship.  During the final 14-week Nutrition Care placement, interns complete a clinical case study, therapeutic update and professional staff relief.

What is the difference between a Practicum and a Placement?
A Practicum is a 14-week period, which can consist of a number of placements. Within the IDI program there are 3 Practicums in total, however there are multiple placements. A placement is the institution/location in which you spend a given amount of weeks as an intern.

The cost of each practicum within the IDI program is equivalent to the price of one full 6-credit course through StFX, as well as other student costs such as technology fees. This cost must be paid before beginning each Practicum. Living expenses, travel & commuting expenses, and individual costs are the responsibility of the intern.

Where will my placements be?
Examples of Placements may include:        

  • Long-term care facilities         
  • Small/medium/large hospitals         
  • Public Health         
  • Primary Health Care         
  • Family resource centres/community centres        
  • Community Health Centres        
  • University food service        
  • StFX Athletics program

Interns in the StFX IDI program should expect to be placed in the Maritime Provinces for all of their placements.

Who can apply?
Students who are enrolled in a BSc. Human Nutrition at StFX who are currently enrolled in or have completed the following prerequisite courses are eligible to apply:

HNU 235, 351, 352, 356, 365 and 385.

Applicants must have an overall average of 70 for all non-HNU courses, and an overall average of 75 in all HNU courses.

How to apply...
Students who are interested in applying must submit an “Intent to Apply” form to the Department Chair the spring prior to applying to the program.  Forms can be found in the main office of J. Bruce Brown or from the IDI Coordinator.

Once the intent to apply form has been completed, students must complete an application package to be submitted by the final package application deadline at the end of January. The application package includes a cover letter, resume, essay, confidential reports (references), and a composite evaluation (group reference) completed by the HNU department. Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with the IDI Coordinator to discuss their submission.

From the application package, select students will be invited to participate in an interview process. During this step of the selection process, students will be asked to prepare a portfolio describing their experiences and transferable skills. Students are strongly encouraged to use their portfolio during the interview process.

How does the selection process work?
Applications are reviewed and graded according to a set grading scale. From there, selected applicants are invited to be interviewed by the selection committee members. Here, they are graded on their communication and critical thinking skills, and application of knowledge.

Each year, the IDI program welcomes approximately 8-12 new interns. However, the number of available spots is based on the availability of placements and can differ each year.

Who is on the selection committee?
The selection committee consists of three professionals outside of the Human Nutrition department, at least one of which is a member of the department’s External Advisory Committee (EAC), and/or at least two dietitians.

Is the application process based solely on grades?
No, the application process is based on a number of factors such as written/oral communication skills, applicable skills, and involvement in volunteer/work experience. However, grades are a factor in the selection process. A minimum overall average of 70 in non-HNU courses and a minimum overall average of at least 75 in HNU-courses is required to apply to the IDI program.

Is past experience working in nutrition-related fields required to apply?

  • No, previously working with a dietitian is not necessary to apply to the IDI program.
  • It is not the type of work/volunteer experience that matters, but the skills obtained from these experiences.

How can I prepare to apply for Dietetic Internship?
Workshops will be provided by Internship Coordinator, Laura Reid, and Jane MacDonald from the Student Career Centre, to help guide applicants through the application process. Examples of these workshops are:      

  • Everything You Need to Know about Dietetic Internships      
  • Portfolio workshops      
  • Interview workshops      
  • Cover letter/resume workshop      
  • Putting package together workshop

What goes into a portfolio?            

  • “About Me” page: To give the selection committee an idea of who you are and how you became interested in dietetics. (Optional)             
  • Essay            
  • Resume             
  • Cover letter             
  • Any extracurricular activities/accomplishments/projects/volunteer/work experience that contributed to skills that you have         

Include, if available: photos, certificates, letters, and brochures.

What courses are needed to complete a dietetic internship program?

In addition to other required courses for the BSc. Human Nutrition program, students who are in an accredited internship program must have completed HNU 356 and HNU 456 in order to successfully apply to (i.e. Masters with Internship or Graduate Internship Programs) or complete the programs (IDI program).

Who can I ask if I have questions?
Feel free to contact:
Laura Reid, MEd,PDt
Integrated Dietetic Internship Coordinator
or in person JBB 247.