The Dietitian Nutritionist Program offers opportunities for students to complete a 12-week rotation in a specialty area of nutrition. Specialty rotations are scheduled during the spring term of Year 3 in the program (Year 2 for DPD graduates). Students are guaranteed a Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) specialty rotation. Other available specialty rotations have a more limited student capacity. The availability of these specialty rotations will vary on an annual basis. Students must apply to be considered for a Limited Capacity Specialty Rotation.
Upon advancement to Year 2 of the Dietitian Nutritionist Program or entry to Year 1 for DPD program graduates, students will receive a link to the online application. If a limited capacity specialty rotation is desirable to admitted students, please complete all requirements and an online application opening on September 1 and closing on September 30. Program faculty, as well as the specialty rotation preceptors, will review applications. Top applicants will undergo an interview and final decisions will be announced by October 15. This is a competitive application process. (The Sports Nutrition specialty rotation application opens on November 1 and closes on November 30. Access the application here. Interviews for the Sports Nutrition specialty rotation will occur in early December).
If an applicant does not receive a specialty rotation of his or her choice due to the limited capacity, students are guaranteed a Medical Nutrition Therapy specialty rotation with a local hospital in the Pittsburgh area. Students are not permitted to locate experiential sites themselves. The Dietitian Nutritionist Program Director and Clinical Coordinator reserves the right to reassign a student to a different clinical facility and/or specialty rotation to best serve the learning environment for the student(s).
The Limited Capacity Specialty Rotations available for fall 2023 applicants include:
Community/Public Health Nutrition (up to 1 student)
This Specialty Rotation will provide experiential practice beyond the basics in the area of community dietetics. It provides the students with the opportunity to apply knowledge of the nutrition care process and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to the practice of dietetics in the community setting. This involves planned learning experiences with a variety of populations of diverse cultures at various stages of the health/illness continuum. Students will have the opportunity to observe and then model the functions of both a community and public health dietitian. Through the combination of planned learning activities and professional interaction, the students will demonstrate an increased level of proficiency in providing comprehensive nutritional care to individuals within the practice setting. This rotation will provide the student with experiences in program development in non-profit organizations, nutrition education, food systems, population health and grant funding. At the conclusion of this rotation, students will have an increase in both knowledge and skills related to the education of persons from various populations and diverse backgrounds as well as public policy and program planning and evaluation arenas.
Maternal and Pediatric Nutrition (up to 2 students)
This Specialty Rotation will provide experiential practice in maternal and pediatric nutrition including pregnancy, human lactation, and interaction with the pediatric population from infancy to adolescence. Students will learn about nutritional and lifestyle factors associated with fertility, pregnancy outcomes, and other high-risk groups in the pediatric population. Students will have the opportunity to observe and model the functions of dietitians providing nutritional care to individuals within the practice setting specific to maternal and pediatric nutrition. By the conclusion of this rotation, students will apply their advanced knowledge for medical nutrition therapy in the management of diseases specific to these life-stages.
Eating Disorders (up to 2 students)
This Specialty Rotation focuses on individuals with eating disorders and will provide learning experiences in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. The rotation will provide exposure to three (3) levels of care where the dietitian is actively involved in the treatment of eating disorders, allowing the student to gain a more complete perspective of the vast and important role of nutrition therapy in recovery. It will be divided into three segments with one segment being spent with a registered dietitian on the UPMC Center for Eating Disorders inpatient unit at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. The second segment will be at Renfrew Pittsburgh and will be focused on learning more about the dietitian's role in the partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient level of care and nutrition counseling. The third segment will be spent with a registered dietitian specializing in eating disorders in the outpatient private practice level of care. Students will be exposed to clients with a variety of eating disorder diagnoses and learn more about nutrition assessment, counseling, nutrition rehabilitation process, different treatment modalities for eating disorders, and the importance of a collaborative team approach.
Oncology Nutrition (up to 2 students)
This Specialty Rotation will provide experience in clinical practice in the inpatient and outpatient oncology settings. With a focus in adult outpatient oncology, this rotation will include nutrition care in medical oncology, surgical oncology, infusion, and radiation oncology. Students will learn about all aspects of nutrition and lifestyle in cancer, specifically for cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship. Students will work with and model oncology dietitians who perform a nutritional assessment of the adult oncology patient as well as individualized nutrition education and counseling specific to that patient’s treatment plan. Students will be able to attend tumor board conferences and other educational meetings, presentations, nutrition classes and support groups as available. By the conclusion of this rotation, students will be able to apply their advanced oncology knowledge to the management of cancer patients by providing appropriate medical nutrition therapy for this population.
Sports Nutrition (up to 4 students)
This specialty rotation will focus on the roles, responsibilities, and daily functions required in the collegiate sports nutrition setting. Students will be placed at one of two Pitt Sports Nutrition sites (UPMC Rooney Sports Complex or Fitzgerald Fieldhouse). The student will work alongside the full-time sports dietitian to assist with daily fueling and hydration needs, nutrition education, fueling station operations, as well as assess, prevent and or treat student athletes with issues related to energy needs, nutrient timing, body composition, hydration, supplementation, GI concerns, food allergies, and disordered eating. The student will gain an understanding of fueling stations and foodservice management skills required to successfully operate a basic fueling station or training table dining facility. Marketing and social media techniques may be incorporated in the sports nutrition rotation depending on site. At the conclusion of the rotation, the student will understand the collegiate athletics work environment and the importance of being flexible and adaptable at all times. This student will be able to apply processes and procedures learned to other sports nutrition experiences as they take their next step in the sports nutrition field.
Lifestyle Nutrition and Oncology (up to 1 student)
This specialty rotation will be onsite at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and selected community sites. Students can expect to work with several dietitians that specialize in hematology, oncology, and other disease states. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to work within the Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program which focuses on symptom management and quality of life through lifestyle nutrition. Students will participate in the development of Nutrition Ambassador Training to understand the role of a Lifestyle Dietitian. Students will observe and participate in Cooking for Cancer & Chronic Disease which is held within The Teaching Kitchen. These classes integrate nutrition, medicine, and cuisine by teaching patients and caregivers how to choose, prepare and cook food to optimize health.
Guaranteed Specialty Rotation (students do not need to apply):
Medical Nutrition Therapy (maximum of 25 students)
This Specialty Rotation will provide extended experiential practice in high-risk populations in the area of clinical dietetics. It provides the students with the opportunity to apply acquired knowledge of the nutrition care process and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to the practice of dietetics in the acute care setting. This involves planned learning experiences with a variety of patients at various stages of the health/illness continuum. Students will have the opportunity to observe and then model the functions of a clinical dietitian. Through the combination of planned learning activities and professional interaction, the students will demonstrate increasing levels of proficiency in providing comprehensive nutritional care to high-risk patients within defined areas of practice depending on student specialty interest and preceptor availability. At the conclusion of this rotation, students may acquire expanded practice in the application of nutrition-focused physical examination skills, counseling, nutrition support or specialized MNT dependent on the specialty interest area.
Letters of Recommendation
If you were asked to write a letter of recommendation, please fill out a form (which will become active on September 1).