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Overview and Curriculum

National HealthCare Corporation (NHC) is a long-term health care company that operates health care centers, Alzheimer's units, homecare programs, hospice programs, assisted living and independent living centers. NHC's heath care centers provide skilled and intermediate nursing care as well as speech, physical and occupational therapy. NHC is recognized nationwide as an innovator in the delivery of quality long-term care. Our goal is to provide a full range of extended care services designed to maximize the well-being and independence of patients of all ages. We are dedicated to meeting patient needs through an interdisciplinary approach combining compassionate care with cost-effective health care services. NHC was founded in 1971, began trading publicly on NASDAQ in 1983, listed on the American Stock Exchange, and operated as a limited partnership from 1986 until December 1997 at which time it converted back to a corporation. To learn more about the sponsoring company, please visit nhccare.com.

In order to become a registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist, an individual must complete a three-step process including: 1.) Complete the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics academic requirements plus obtain the minimum of a Bachelor's degree, 2.) Complete an ACEND accredited supervised practice program (i.e. Dietetic Internship Program) and 3.) Obtain a passing score on the registration examination for the RD or RDN credential.

The primary objective of the program is to train qualified individuals to become competent dietitians. For the 2017-2018 class, six dietetic interns were selected for the program. The ten month internship program begins in mid to late August. Currently, dietetic interns rotate through the following facilities: NHC centers in the Middle Tennessee area, Skyline Medical Center, Horizon Medical Center, VA TN Valley Healthcare System, Fresenius Kidney Care, WIC, Homecare, school foodservice, wellness and fitness experiences and various hospitals in Memphis for pediatric training.

NHC's Dietetic Internship is currently granted accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and the United States Department of Education. Upon successful completion of the dietetic internship program, the interns will meet the ACEND required core competences and program specific concentration competencies for the RDN. In addition, intern graduates will be eligible for active membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and to take the registration exam. Upon successfully passing the RD exam, individuals will be eligible to obtain licensure according to their state guidelines.

Care is taken during recruitment and selection, as well as actual administration, to protect student civil rights. The program director seeks a diversified class and works to maintain an appropriate percentage between minorities who interview for the program and those accepted. The program and sponsoring organization both adhere to policies regarding the selection, hiring and promotion based on ability regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex (including pregnancy), retaliation, sexual harassment, age, national origin, disability or genetic information. Student privacy is respected during the program. Grades and evaluation outcomes are handled on an individual basis, and space is provided in the internship director's office for private counseling as needed.

The NHC Dietetic Internship Program is currently granted Accreditation status by the:

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
312/899-0040, Ext. 5400
Email: ACEND@eatright.org

ACEND is the only accrediting agency for dietetics education recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE).

NHC Mission, Goals, and Objectives

All program goals are being met at this time. Specific levels achieved for these outcome measures are available from the director upon request.

The mission of the NHC's Dietetic Internship is "To prepare interns to become successful entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists through supervised practice and didactic learning experiences in clinical, foodservice management and community nutrition with an emphasis in geriatric nutrition." The mission of the program drives the goals and outcome measures that are listed below:

Goal 1: The program will produce competent graduates who are prepared for entry-level practice as registered dietitian nutritionists.

Objectives for Goal 1:

1.1 95% of the dietetic interns who enter the program over a 5-year period will complete it within 150% of the program length or 15 months.
1.2 At least 84% of program graduates who are seeking jobs will obtain jobs in the field of dietetics or a related field within 12 months of graduation.
1.3 At least 83% of the program graduates will take the registration exam within 12 months of graduation.
1.4 Over a five-year period, 90% of the program graduates will pass the RD exam within one year following their first attempt (one year and first time pass rate is currently at 100% for the past five years).
1.5 Program graduates will receive an overall rotation grade of 3.0 or higher for each rotation completed.
1.6 Program graduates will receive a grade of B or better in the graduate course taken at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
1.7 Program graduates will rate knowledge and preparedness for entry-level dietetics practice as adequate, as evidenced by a mean score of 4.0 or higher out or 5.0 on the graduate employer survey.
1.8 Employers of program graduates will rate knowledge and preparedness for entry-level dietetics practice as adequate, evidenced by a mean score of 4.0 or higher out of 5.0 on the employer survey of graduates.

Goal 2: The program will prepare graduates to practice in the geriatric nutrition field and provide a return on investment (ROI) for the sponsoring institution.

Objectives for Goal 2:

2.1 At least 50% of program graduates will obtain employment in the area of geriatric nutrition over a five-year period.
2.2 To provide a ROI to NHC and encourage further sponsorship of the program. An adequate ROI will be defined as the following: Over a five-year period, to provide the sponsoring institution with one to two years of service from 50% of graduates.

Goal 3: The program will affiliate with facilities that will provide highly knowledgeable and supportive professional staff to train the interns during their supervised practice experiences.

Objectives for Goal 3:

3.1 At least 80% of the facilities that the program uses for training for rotations of two weeks or longer will renew or continue affiliation agreements every two years or as determined between the institution and the affiliate site.
3.2 Preceptors responsible for intern training at the affiliation sites will have the necessary training and credentialing in dietetics or food service management and become familiar with the NHC dietetic internship program.
3.3 Dietetic interns will rate 90% of the areas assessed on the rotation evaluations as average or above average.

Goal 4: The program will prepare graduates to demonstrate a commitment to the community through professional involvement, leadership and service in a variety of personal or professional settings.

Objectives for Goal 4:

4.1 The interns will become members of the national, state, and local dietetic association while in the program.
4.2 The interns will attend the local district dietetic association meeting a minimum of two times during the program.
4.3 At least 80% of the interns will attend a national and/or state dietetic association meeting during the program.
4.4 The intern will complete at least three community/volunteer dietetic-related activities during the program.
4.5 When surveyed, graduates will rate their level of involvement in professional activities,community service or leadership activities as adequate, as evidenced by a mean score of 4.0 out of 5.0 or above on the graduate employer survey.

Goal 5: The program will develop within the interns the skills and motivation to pursue learning opportunities during and after the program.

Objectives for Goal 5:

5.1 Dietetic interns will write a personal action plan identifying personal and professional competencies. At the conclusion of the internship, each intern will have met 66-75% of these competencies.
5.2 Dietetic interns will demonstrate how to complete a sample CDR professional development portfolio (PDP) plan.
5.3 When surveyed, graduates will rate their participation in continuing education activities as adequate, as evidenced by a mean score of 4.0 out of 5.0 or above on the graduate employer survey.

Curriculum, Schedule, and Program Completion
The ten month program currently provides didactic and supervised practice experiences as follows:

Orientation and Clinical Conferences First 2 weeks of internship
Dietetic intern classes Mondays
MTSU Graduate class (3 hrs)
Mondays – afternoon (one semester only)
NHC (clinical) 5 weeks (160 hrs)
NHC (food service) 5 weeks (160 hrs)
NHC (staff relief) 4 weeks (152 hours)
Skyline Medical Center (clinical) 4 weeks (128 hrs)
Horizon Medical Center (clinical) 4 weeks (128 hrs)
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center 5 weeks (160 hrs)
Fresenius Kidney Care
2 weeks (64 hrs)
Pediatrics (St. Jude, LeBonheur, Boling CDD) 2 weeks (64 hrs)
Wellness and Fitness 2 weeks (64 hrs)
Lebanon Special Schools 2 weeks (64 hrs)
Community / Elective 2 weeks (56 - 64 hrs)
TwelveStone (nutrition support/wellness)
1 week (32 hrs)

The NHC Dietetic Internship is completed in approximately ten months on a full-time schedule beginning in mid-August and extending into June. Most weeks consist of at least 40 hours per week of classes and supervised practice experiences, with completion of written projects being done at home. A two-week orientation is mandatory for all interns held at NHC corporate office in Murfreesboro, TN and several affiliate sites. Before starting the program, interns must have proof of medical insurance, have professional liability insurance (provided by NHC), drug screen, background check, and health form requirement. Currently, the supervised practice hours are completed during the weekdays with the exception of approximately three weekends. If a leave of absence is requested and approved by the director, the program requirements must be completed within 150% of the program length or 15 months. Information regarding leave of absences will be discussed further in the policy and procedure manual upon acceptance into the dietetic internship. A master rotation schedule is given to each student at the beginning of the program and Monday class schedules are given to interns at least two weeks ahead of time.

Dietetic Interns at NHC Corporate Office

Both didactic and supervised practice experiences shall be included in the dietetic internship program. Planned learning experiences shall be offered in logical progression from introductory to the expected degree of competence in program graduates. RD Exam practice tests will be administered throughout the year and will require a passing score in order to graduate from the program. In addition, during the final week of the program, the interns will complete procedures for eligibility to take the RD examination. The RDNE misuse form will be explained by the director and signed by students to be kept in their student files.

Upon graduation, students are expected to have met core and emphasis competencies. Successful completion of classroom and rotation assignments will ensure that the core competencies for entry-level dietetics, and geriatric emphasis competencies, have been met and that a verification statement will be issued to graduates. Grading expectations are listed in the policy and procedure manual.

Memphis Training
Two weeks of pediatric training will be scheduled in the spring in Memphis, Tennessee. Housing has traditionally been provided by NHC. Some meals and gas are reimbursed by NHC. The projected cost to the intern for the Memphis rotation is $150.00-$200.00.

Staff Relief
When feasible, staff relief is scheduled at an approved NHC facility in a convenient location for minimal lodging and/or travel costs to the intern. Staff relief is scheduled in the Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Alabama, South Carolina, or New England area. Efforts will be made to assist in locating lodging. Interns who need to relocate to complete a staff relief assignment will receive both a travel and small housing allowance.

Complaint Policy
Any grievances or complaints about the dietetic internship should first be presented to the director. If the intern is dissatisfied with the results of the conference with the director, then the intern should make a request, in writing, for a conference with the grievance committee. The Grievance Committee will be composed of at least two (2) dietitians of NHC, the director, and a staff member of the home office of NHC. If the intern is still dissatisfied, then a written request should be made for a conference with the senior vice president of patient services. All grievances will be documented and signed by the director and the intern. The original will be filed in the intern's folder and kept on file in the office of the director.

If an individual other than an intern such as faculty, preceptor, dietetics practitioner and/or member of the public has a complaint, they may submit a complaint against the program. If the complaint can be addressed with the program director, that is the first course of action. If it is believed that it can't be resolved through the program director, the complaint can be brought to the senior vice president of patient services. The procedure to file complaints against accredited programs to ACEND is discussed in the policy and procedure manual. Please submit complaints directly to ACEND only after all other options with the program and the institution have been exhausted. All grievances will be handled in a manner that prevents retaliation.

Interns meet at least three times per month for dietetic internship classes on various topics throughout the entire program. Interns are required to enroll in a three hour graduate class, which meets on Monday afternoons at Middle Tennessee State University. Interns have an option to receive three to six additional graduate credits for the Dietetic Internship.

Dietetic Internship Home Page

Letter to Prospective Applicant

Benefits & Expenses

Application and Admission Procedures

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