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Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics has made it a priority to assure that qualified students have opportunities to complete the supervised practice component of their education without compromising the autonomy of education programs. Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways (ISPPs) have been developed along with preceptor recruiting efforts to give students more options for educational experiences that will make them eligible to sit for the registration exam. Be sure to check this page regularly as more information about programs offering Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways becomes available.

Overview of Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways

From 1973 to 1993, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provided "alternate" unaccredited education pathways to RD registration that allowed students to gain knowledge and skills by working under the guidance of individual practitioners. These models had many variations including Advanced-Degree with 6-Month Experience, 3-Year Pre-planned Experience and so on. The flexibility of the models allowed self-directed individuals to flourish, many of whom became leaders in dietetics; however, the lack of protections and formal accountability to students, especially when practitioners became unable to fulfill their obligations to some students was problematic.

In September 2011, the Academy announced the development of Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways or ISPPs ("ispeys") which are intended to add supervised practice capacity through ACEND®-accredited dietetics programs, while providing student protections missing from the unaccredited models of the past. This approach provides a framework that can align the availability of supervised practice with demand from DPD students who hold verification statements, thereby laying the foundation for addressing supervised-practice shortages in the future. The features of the ISPP initiative include:

  • Providing information for programs to implement ISPPs within existing dietetics-education program models
  • Simplifying competency reporting processes used to document student outcomes
  • Providing rotation-based activities and competency-assessment rubrics to reduce program director and preceptor workload while maintaining quality
  • Facilitating collaboration among dietetics programs to develop and share best practices
  • Developing processes for assessment of prior work experience and learning.
  • Monitoring and assuring program accountability to students in ISPPs
  • Permitting DIs, CPs and DPDs to implement accredited ISPPs to prepare graduates with verification statements to sit for CDR's registration exam
  • Allowing students to receive payment while in supervised practice
  • Facilitating the potential for eligible programs to provide federal student aid
  • Allowing two years to complete experiences with the option for an additional year in extenuating circumstances
  • Allowing programs to charge differential tuition and fees over the duration of a pathway
  • Giving permission for programs to develop criteria for accepting individuals holding doctoral degrees into ISPPs without a didactic verification statement

Information for Education Program Directors

Programs opting to start ISPPs will need to meet ACEND Accreditation Standards.

Program directors from dietetic internships and coordinated programs should have little difficulty in adapting their programs to accommodate ISPPs; however, Didactic program directors may be less familiar with the day-to-day issues related to supervised practice and precepting. Didactic Programs in Dietetics are also allowed to provide opportunities for students who were not matched by either collaborating with existing DIs and CPs or by developing rotations themselves. This will enable them to assist their own graduates who were not matched to an internship or those from other programs.

Although programs will be required to issue verification statements and meet ACEND accreditation standards relevant to their new role and responsibilities for supervised practice, they will only be required to submit a substantive change request to ACEND, not a comprehensive self-study or focused report. Any reporting or site visit requirements will occur on the program's normal accreditation schedule. If you would like more information and guidance, please email ACEND staff and include the phrase "ISPP Information Requested" in the subject line.

Information for Students

ACEND policies for Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways (ISPPs) allow 1) graduates who did not match to a dietetic internship, but who possess a DPD verification statement, 2) individuals holding a doctoral degree without a DPD verification statement to apply for an ISPP; however eligibility requirements and options may vary by program. You can see which Dietetic Internships, Coordinated, or Didactic programs currently offer ISPPs by visiting Accredited Education Programs. Doctoral degree holders without a DPD verification statement must attend an ISPP that is approved to offer a track for individuals with a doctoral degree. Students interested in applying to an ISPP should research the eligibility requirements of the program where they intend to submit an application, including whether you are required to locate your own preceptors, and then contact the program director. Individuals with work experience should also inquire whether the program grants credit for specific competency requirements through an assessment of prior learning.

Be sure to return to this page later as more information about programs offering Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways becomes available.

Information for Preceptors

If students contact you about precepting them, ask for the name of the program and information about the program's expectations for preceptors. If you are interested in volunteering as a preceptor for a program offering an ISPP, find programs in your area by visiting Accredited Education Programs, and then contacting program directors. If you are unable to find a program that can make use of your services, please contact an ACEND representative and include the phrase "Preceptor Information Requested" in the subject line. Find more information and networking resources at Preceptors or Mentors.

Find an ACEND-Accredited Program

ACEND has more than 600 accredited programs across the United States and select countries internationally, with in-person and online options. Use the search filters to find the program that fits your needs.