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Dietetic Internship a Healthy Boost to Northwestern Ontario


Physicians & Nurses are not the only health professionals that Northwestern Ontario has a shortage. Registered Dietitians are also difficult to attract and retain in the North.


Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Dietitians of Canada and Health Canada – First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, we finally have a Pilot Project Dietetic Internship with which to train future Dietitians. Similar to the goals of the Northern Medical School, our goal is to promote the North as a rewarding and beneficial place for a Registered Dietitian to build his/her career by training students here.


Registered Dietitians (RD’s) are highly skilled professionals with a minimum 4-year Foods & Nutrition degree obtained from an accredited University. This degree gives RD’s the knowledge to master the complex science of nutrition. In addition to this degree, Foods and Nutrition students must complete a one-year Dietetic Internship (practicum) in order to become Registered with the College of Dietitians. This internship must be completed through an accredited program, of which there are not enough in Canada.


With assistance from the First Nations and Inuit Branch of Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada has created a comprehensive Dietetic Internship with a First Nations focus in Northwestern Ontario. The internship program fits within the Population Health Model of health care delivery. Interns will learn first hand the health and social issues in northern communities and the problems related with access to health services.


The Pilot Project program offers many interesting and challenging opportunities for the interns. The program includes urban, rural and sometimes remote placement opportunities. Students will complete their rotations in hospitals (e.g. Thunder Bay Regional Hospital, & Red Lake District Health Centre), nursing homes, aboriginal community access centres, community health centres, public health units and clinics.


The internship is partnered with Sudbury who, along with Thunder Bay and region, each have two interns. The pilot will run for a period of 42 weeks.


Northwestern Ontario is very fortunate to have a Dietetic Internship. Interns bring a fresh, positive and energetic outlook to every opportunity they encounter. RD’s as well as other health care providers will learn a lot from the new interns while providing interns with a great learning experience in return. They will enhance both professional practices as well as the health and well being of communities in this region.


Congratulations to our first dietetic interns; Sarah Waite, Heidi Neiderer-French, as well as to Kelly Hodges RD, the Thunder Bay and Region Site Coordinator.


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