Southwestern Dietetic Internship



The Southwestern Dietetic Internship (SWDI) is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

The contact information for ACEND is:

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
312-899-0040, ext. 5400


The Southwestern Dietetic Internship (SWDI) is an accredited dietetic internship offered by the Phoenix Indian Medical Center (PIMC) in Phoenix, Arizona and the Kayenta Service Unit (KSU) in Kayenta, Arizona. PIMC and KSU are both healthcare facilities of the Indian Health Service, an agency of the federal government under the Department of Health and Human Services. The Indian Health Service provides health care for American Indian and Alaska Native people. This internship has an emphasis in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) nutrition.

The SWDI is offered only as a full-time program. Upon successful completion of the SWDI, the intern will be awarded a Dietetic Internship Verification Statement and will be eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Passing the Registration examination is the final requirement to becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD).

The SWDI accepts 2 interns per year. In accordance with laws regarding Indian Preference, preference is given to applicants who are members of a federally recognized tribe. (AI/AN applicants must provide BIA Form #4432 to receive Indian preference.)


The SWDI is designed to produce competent, well-rounded dietetics professionals prepared to work in Native American communities. Interns will have the unique opportunity to learn about nutrition programs in both rural and urban Native American communities. The internship program is planned for a total of 40 weeks and begins annually in August (the start date is subject to change.)

This program participates in the spring Computer Match and selects two interns to complete the program concurrently. Applicants selected for the program are required to complete a background check, including fingerprinting.


Interns begin their supervised practice experience in Phoenix, Arizona at PIMC. PIMC is a Joint Commission-accredited referral hospital that provides comprehensive health care services for Native American people from over 30 tribes. PIMC dietitians provide nutrition care to hospitalized and ambulatory care patients, manage the employee feeding program, and travel to tribal communities located in the Phoenix area.

Interns will work in the acute care setting and participate in nutrition intervention for hospitalized patients with complex conditions. Additionally, interns will function as members of interdisciplinary teams, including nutrition support, wound care, and diabetes education.

Interns will travel to field clinics and participate in nutrition programs at different tribal communities in the Phoenix area. Interns will plan and deliver nutrition programs targeting groups across the age continuum.

Planning and managing a food service operation is an essential skill for dietetics professionals. Interns will learn about kitchen equipment, menu planning and analysis, inventory, and ordering to prepare them for managing a food service operation.

Interns will continue their experience in Kayenta, Arizona. Kayenta is located on the Navajo Reservation in the scenic "Four Corners" region of the southwest United States. The Navajo Reservation is the country's largest Indian Reservation. Interns will participate in the development of community health promotion and disease prevention programs, including grant management. (No-cost housing will be provided in Kayenta during this rotation.)


The mission of the Southwestern Dietetic Internship is to prepare dietetics professionals to provide culturally appropriate, comprehensive nutrition services in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. It is consistent with the mission of the Indian Health Service, which is to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.

Goals and Expected Outcomes
The goals of the Southwestern Dietetic Internship are as follows:

1. To prepare graduates to be competent entry-level dietitians. The SWDI expects that at least 80% of interns completing the program will pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians on the first attempt.

2. 90% of graduates will complete the program within 150% of the time allotted (60 weeks.)

3. 90% of employers will rate graduates of the SWDI at entry-level or greater. Once employment is obtained, SWDI surveys employers to determine the employers' assessment of the graduates' entry level skills in meeting overall competency requirements.

4. It is expected that 70% of graduates who seek employment will be employed in dietetics with 12 months of program completion.

5. To improve access to nutrition care provided by a qualified dietetics professional in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. It is expected that at least 30% of graduates will be employed in AI/AN communities.

6. To increase diversity in the dietetics profession by increasing the numbers of qualified American Indian and Alaska Native dietetics professionals. It is anticipated that at least 30% of graduates will be registered with a federally recognized tribe. Selection criteria include preference for qualified applicants registered with a federally recognized tribe.


The program activities are scheduled* as follows:

Orientation: 1 week
Clinical Nutrition: 17 weeks
Administration/Management: 3 weeks
Kayenta Community Nutrition: 7 weeks
Food Service: 4 weeks
Ambulatory Care Nutrition: 5 weeks
Enrichment Rotation: 2 weeks
Study for RD exam: 1 week

*Schedule is subject to change


In order to complete the program, successful completion of all rotations is required. If an intern does not successfully pass a rotation, the rotation may be repeated one time only. Only one rotation may be repeated. If the intern fails to successfully complete a rotation after the second attempt, the intern will be dismissed from the program.

Upon successful completion of all requirements, including evaluations, interns will receive a Dietetic Internship Verification Statement of completion.


Tuition and application fees: There are no fees for tuition or application to the SWDI program.

Estimated expenses include:

-Travel between PIMC and KSU (approximately $250)

-Housing while in the Phoenix area. Suggested websites for housing in Phoenix:,,, and  Typical rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the Phoenix Area is approximately $880 per month. No cost Government housing will be provided when the intern is at the Kayenta Service Unit.

-Liability insurance (required): approximately $50 per year.

-Medical exams and immunizations prior to arrival. Cost will vary based on your health plan.

-Dress code: Professional business attire is required. Uniforms are not required. Lab coats will be provided as needed.

-Any desired books and reference materials preferred by the intern. There are adequate resources available at no cost on-site, including an extensive medical library.


1. US Citizenship
2. Complete application in DICAS. The SWDI participates in the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS).
3. Minimum G.P.A. of 3.0. Official Transcripts must be uploaded into DICAS.
4. Three letters of reference (preferably at least one from a professor and one from an employer. No letters from relatives.)
5. Documentation of at least 1,000 hours of nutrition-related work experience, including at least 300 hours in clinical nutrition or nutrition counseling. Hours may be cumulative over the previous 5 years, and be voluntary or paid. A current resume must be uploaded into DICAS, and must include the total number of hours of work experience per position listed.
6. DPD Verification statement that is dated within 5 years of the application deadline or current Intent to Complete the DPD statement.
7. Letter stating short-term and long-term career goals, why you chose to apply to the SWDI, strengths, weaknesses, and your expectations of the internship. Please limit this letter to no more than two pages.
8. Response to AI/AN knowledge question: Discuss 3 health-related problems prevalent in AI/AN communities (rural and/or urban). Please limit this letter to one page.

Supplemental Documents
-Applicants eligible for Indian Preference must include proof of tribal enrollment in a federally recognized tribe. Only BIA Form 4432 will be accepted. No other document may be substituted.

All documents must be uploaded to DICAS by the deadline corresponding with the Spring Computer Match.

Qualified applicants may be contacted for an interview.


1. Do I have to be Native American to apply to this internship?
No. All graduates of DPD programs are encouraged to apply. (DPD verification statement must be no more than 5 years old. The Intent to Complete must be current.) The program does grant preference to qualified applicants that are members of federally-recognized tribes. In the event that there are no qualified Native American applicants, the selections will be made from the pool of qualified applicants that apply.

2. If selected, are there any additional requirements?
Yes, the applicants selected must have the following:
-BLS/CPR certification. If the applicant does not have this, it will be scheduled during the first rotation.
-Background check. This will be completed in Phoenix and Kayenta. The following documents are required as proof of identification: (a) Passport or (b) Driver's license PLUS Social Security card OR birth certificate.
-Physical requirements: Must be able to stand for extended periods of time, lift objects weighing 20 lbs. unassisted and 40 lbs. with assistance from one other person.
-Must be able to write and read English, and type on a computer daily for extended periods of time.

3. Is housing provided during this program?
You are responsible for your own housing while in Phoenix. During the Kayenta rotation, government housing arrangements will be made for you by the Kayenta Site Coordinator. However, family and friends may not occupy government housing.

4. Is transportation provided for me?
No, you are responsible for your own transportation, including auto insurance and a current driver's license. Kayenta Service Unit is approximately a 4 1/2 hour drive from Phoenix and there are few amenities beyond Flagstaff, so reliable transportation is recommended.

5. Are job placement services available?
No, but our program provides information to interns on available jobs in the Indian Health Service and on the Arizona Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics listserve.

5. What is the Indian Health Service?
The Indian Health Service is an agency within the US Department of Health & Human Services responsible for providing health care services to members of federally-recognized tribes. The following website will provide additional information for you:



The SWDI uses the on-line Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS). The on-line application must be completed for our program by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on the deadline date. Please refer to the DICAS website for applicable dates and fees. Official Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be sent to DICAS. When completing the application form, applicants must include the name and contact information (specifically an e-mail address) for each reference.

Contact information

- Website:

- Customer Support phone: (617) 612-2855


Applicants to the SWDI must participate in computer matching. See D & D Digital website for computer match information and deadlines.

Contact information

- Website:
- Phone: (515) 292-0490
- Email:


CAPT Rob Collison, MS, RD, CSG, CDE

Director, Southwestern Dietetic Internship

Phoenix Indian Medical Center
4212 N. 16th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Phone: (602) 263-1200 extension 1057