20140514_135442There it is – an email, a call, a message, sometimes an unexpected visit –a student requesting if you could be his/her preceptor!

Does this sound familiar?  As a Clinical Nutrition Manager, I receive frequent requests (more requests than I would ever imagined) from students in Virginia, D.C., and other nearby states who are looking for a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to be a preceptor. I am sure that many of you have similar requests in your work site, whether that is for a clinical, foodservice, community or a specialty rotation/ experience.

You see, learning from each other is still one of the most important ways that people develop skills.  And this is exactly what Dietetic Interns and Future Dietetic Interns need:  they need a teaching hand to learn and practice basic skills to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.  That teaching hand can only come from an expert, an RDN like you.  We need your expertise! I am asking you today:  Could you be a teaching hand?  Could you be a preceptor?

April is National Preceptor Month! It is a great time to be thankful to Preceptors, and perhaps to urge you to act and become one.  Preceptors are needed in many areas.  As internships have evolved, more candidates have the opportunity to complete the program as part of distance internships.  Different than a traditional internship, these candidates need to map their rotations and submit a plan with proposed sites during the application process.  This is when you, as an RDN, is needed:  answer that call, return that email, say yes, take the challenge and be a preceptor!

As a daughter of a teacher, I learn and value the time and tools used by those who I cross path with, including many of the great preceptors during my internship.  I was set up with excellent preceptors, which shared teachings that I remember to this day. I valued their time and felt very thankful for taking me as an intern.  How about you?  I’m sure that you have your share of great experiences!

Some people will challenge that there is not “enough time” to take a student, or that we will not be able to offer a good experience.  With all due respect, I like to think about it as an “investment” of time.  If you open your heart and welcome the profession once more, the time that you put in teaching a student will be more likely to be returned in high quality projects, ideas and professional development for the student as well as the preceptor. If you are a seasoned RDN, you will benefit from learning what is new in the field.  If you are a new RD, you can relate to students in the path of becoming one.

You?  A Preceptor?  YES!   The Commission of Dietetics Registration has an Online Dietetics Preceptor Training Course.  It is free and good for 8 CPEU’s!   https://www.cdrnet.org/news/online-dietetics-preceptor-training-course-free-of-charge

My point is, if you ever had a doubt, if you question yourself “do I have what it takes to be a preceptor?”, I’m here to tell you that you have the capability to be a Preceptor, the wisdom to steer the career of those who are looking for a resource, a mentor, an example. Don’t think twice and prepare yourself for what will be a great and rewarding experience.  To me, being a preceptor is an amazing journey. It is an honor to be trusted by students, assisting in shaping the future RDN’s, and our profession.  It is a privilege that I invite you to share!




Alice Ann Bones, MSM, RDN, is the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, VA.  She is also a Regional Clinical Nutrition Manager for Morrison Healthcare and the New Member Liaison and the Diversity Liaison for VAND.