Background: Leadership and management skills are critical to moving the dietetics profession forward; acquisition of those skills begins in the Dietetic Internship (DI). This study examined DI program components related to higher mean scores on the Foodservice and Management domain of the Registration Examination for Dietitians and compared Program Director and Preceptor perceptions of management rotation structure.

Methods: All 242 DI Program Directors (excluding sponsoring institution) received a 47-item electronic questionnaire. Directors provided contact information for up to three DI management rotation primary preceptors. Preceptors received a 35-item electronic questionnaire regarding their perception of interns' management skill development. Analyses included Stepwise regression, Fisher's Exact test, Pearson's correlation, and Chi-squared.

Results: 125 Program Directors (51%) and 63 of 100 preceptors (63%) responded. Greater time spent working with front line staff rather than upper management levels was associated with lower Foodservice and Management domain scores on the RD Examination, but program emphasis/concentration and length of time in management rotations were not related. Directors and Preceptors have similar perceptions of most aspects of management rotations, but they perceive barriers to management experiences differently. More Preceptors than Directors felt sensitive issues like budget and personnel, students' attitude and knowledge base, and inadequate time frame interfered with "appropriate exposure to practical management" (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Structuring management rotations to spend more time working at upper levels of management and addressing preceptors'perceptions of barriers to meaningful experiences should increase the effectiveness of management skill acquisition and attitudes toward management among interns.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science



Date Submitted


Document Type





dietetic internships, management, leadership, skill development