There are many reasons to “get cozy” with your Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) Director. When I say “get cozy”, I mean to build a comfortable yet professional relationship with her/him.
There are many ways that a DPD Director can positively influence your life. Make sure that you take full advantage of this resource while you have it. This person can prove to be valuable to you NOW & LATER.
Here are some of the ways in which she/he can do that:
The most common reason that most dietetic students try to get on the good side of the DPD Director is to secure a positive reference letter. But, if you build the relationship well, then you will find that a letter of recommendation is just the tip of the iceberg.
Usually, your DPD Director is one of your professors. He/she teaches a few courses in the program and oversees the nutrition curriculum throughout the entire program. In other words, they work with the other faculty members to make sure that you are learning everything that you need to learn at this point in your academic career.
They can explain all the concepts from life-cycle nutrition to nutritional biochemistry and food service management. They know it so well that it seems almost like common knowledge. If you need help in a nutrition course and are not getting the help you need from your instructor, you need to tell your DPD Director. Not only will they address this with the instructor, but they will help you understand what you need to know.
The DPD Director should be able to give you all the information you need to know about the dietetics program that you are enrolled in. From course requirements and your academic schedule to the global learning objectives that you should achieve by the end of the program.
It’s not all about what you need to do to complete the program. It is also about what you should get out of the program.
Ignore the old saying “Those who can’t do teach.” That does not apply in this field. Your DPD Director is a registered dietetic professional who has gained a ton of experience in the field. Some of them still work in the field on the side.
DPD Directors are on the cusp of pre-professionals and professionals. They get to see the field from a wider perspective than most practitioners. Mainly because they continually learn about the field with their students in mind.
You will definitely want to get their advice on your career and the options available to you. Ask them about the different positions, roles, and responsibilities of dietetic professionals. You will be surprised what a good DPD Director will tell you.
DPD Directors have a lot of connections. Not only do they know other directors and dietetic professionals from all over the world. They also know successful graduates of your DPD Program as well as local dietetic professionals. A good DPD Director knows how to network and is a great role model.
So, the next time he/she encourages you to attend a meeting or join a professional organization or connect with them on LinkedIn…do not hesitate. Follow suit.
Through courses and conversations, your DPD Director can help expand your view of the field. DPD Directors receive notifications of opportunities for their students (volunteer and paid). They are usually asked to provide services to the community and may need your help.
Talk to them about their experiences and let them know you are interested in gaining more exposure. Ask them to help you get a better idea of all the different facets of the field. From laboratory research to community outreach to clinical field experience…the DPD Director is in the know.
DPD Directors are often the first people who are approached when employers are looking for applicants. If they get to know you, then you might be the first person to pop in their head when they hear of a potential position for you.
Not only will you ensure a great reference by building your relationship with your DPD Director, you will also gain a potential employer. The DPD Director is often involved in the search for instructors (whether full-time or adjunct), laboratory managers, and research assistants.
Some become employers outside of academia. Take me, for instance. I am the CEO of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals. The students that built a relationship with me, while I was their DPD Director, are on my shortlist for employment opportunities within the Institute.
Of course your DPD Director can provide you information on the dietetic internship (DI) application process. She/he may also have served on many DI Selection Committees. This means that they have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly applications. This is definitely one person with which you will want to discuss your DI application.
If you want to learn even more insider tips on DI Applications and/or get one-on-one guidance, click HERE. Or go to www.icenp.org and look at the services for Pre-Professionals.
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