Should You Consider the DTR Exam?

You completed 4 years of undergraduate work in Nutrition and Dietetics, graduated with a well-respected GPA, but you did not get matched to a dietetic internship program.  Now what?  Don’t fret.  It’s not the end of the world.  Getting matched to an accredited internship program has become extremely competitive. When I was in your shoes some 15 years ago, we had the choice of which internship program we wanted to join without having to worry much that we simply won’t get in to any of our top choices. Times have changed as it appears the nutrition profession has exploded over the past several years.  There are more and more young nutrition pups entering into the field, and simply not enough dietetic internship programs to accommodate.

With not getting matched to an internship, you may want to consider taking the DTR Exam.  A Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) is an eligible candidate who can work in many areas of nutrition similar to Registered Dietitians (RDs), such as:

  • Clinical settings, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, hospice care organizations, and home health care programs. DTRs can conduct nutrition screenings, gather nutrition data and perform other tasks to assist RDs in providing medical nutrition therapy
  • Community settings, such as WIC offices, public health agencies, Meals on Wheels, and other community health programs. DTRs can develop and teach nutrition classes for the public
  • Foodservice settings, such as schools, daycare centers, correctional facilities, and restaurants. DTRs can manage employees, assist with purchasing and preparing foods, and prepare budgets within the foodservice operations
  • Wellness settings, such as health clubs, weight management clinics, and community wellness centers. DTRs can educate clients about the connection between food, fitness and health
  • Food company settings, such as contract food management, vending, and distribution centers.DTRs can develop menus, oversee foodservice sanitation and food safety, and prepare food labeling information and nutrient analysis

Stepping Stone for the RD EXAM

I always like to think “glass half-full”.  If you’re a student who did not match for an internship in this round, consider these potential advantages of taking the DTR Exam:

  • With obtaining your bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, you are already eligible to sit for the national DTR Exam
  • Both the RD Exam and DTR Exam are computerized tests, following the same format. Taking the DTR Exam will give you experience taking the test and hopefully prepare you for what’s to come in the RD Exam
  • Our friends over at All Access Internships tell us that internship program directors value the DTR credentials highly because it shows an applicant can successfully pass a national board exam
  • While having the DTR credentials will not be a guarantee for a successful match to an internship on the next round, you will be able to use the credentials on your application as demonstrating knowledge and a commitment to the profession, in the event you lack paid or volunteer dietetics-related experiences
  • Passing the DTR Exam will make you marketable and allow you to start practicing in various fields to gain experience and earn some money, which may be used to help pay off school loans or save for your upcoming dietetic internship

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