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Southwestern Dietetic Internship (SWDI)

Southwest Dietetic (SWDI)

Program Description  |  General Info  |  Interns  |  Mission  |  Calendar  |  Graduation  |  Cost  |  Application  | FAQ  |  Deadlines |  Accreditation

Contact Information

Department Address  PhoneEmail
Southwest Dietetic Internship Phoenix Indian Medical Center Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 
4212 N. 16th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Phone: 602-263-1200 ext. 1057 Robert Collison

Program Description

The Southwestern Dietetic Internship (SWDI) is an accredited* dietetic internship offered by the Phoenix Indian Medical Center (PIMC) in Phoenix, Arizona, the Pinon Health Center (PHC) in Pinon, Arizona, and Northern Navajo Medical Center (NNMC) in Shiprock, New Mexico. PIMC, PHC and NNMC are 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.)

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor’s degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR’s Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR’s website: Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving . In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited Southwestern Dietetic Internship program at the Phoenix Area Indian Health Service are eligible to apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN.

In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements Click Here Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .

For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN Click Here Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .


General Information

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 32 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.

Intern Handbook [PDF 466 KB]


Intern Learning Experiences

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 Pinon, Arizona, and Shiprock, New Mexico. Pinon and Shiprock are 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 during these rotations.)

Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist


  1. Complete a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) accredited by ACEND and obtain a DPD Verification Statement from the program. Students who have not yet graduated may obtain an Intent to Complete DPD Statement when applying for an internship, but must provide a final DPD Verification Statement prior to beginning the internship. A Didactic Program in Dietetics grants at least a bachelor's degree (some grant a master's degree) and is ACEND-accredited for only the required dietetics coursework. A list of accredited programs is available on the ACEND website.
  2. Complete an accredited dietetic internship program and obtain a Dietetic Internship Verification Statement. After you complete DPD requirements you will then need to apply for and be accepted into an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship (DI) to complete the supervised practice experience requirement. You must successfully complete an accredited DI and obtain a Verification Statement from the internship director in order to be eligible to take the Registration Examination. Successfully completing the Southwestern Dietetic Internship qualifies the intern to be eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians as required by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  3. Pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians.

Mission, Goals and Expected Outcomes


The mission of the Southwestern Dietetic Internship is to prepare entry-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionists 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.


  1. To prepare graduates to be competent entry-level RDNs.
  2. Program graduates will improve access to nutrition care provided to American Indian and Alaska Native communities by qualified dietetics professionals.
  3. To increase diversity in the dietetics profession by increasing the numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native dietetics professionals.


  • At least 80 percent of program interns complete program requirements within 15 months (150% of the program length).
  • 80 percent of program graduates take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists within 12 months of program completion.
  • The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80%.
  • 90 percent of employers will evaluate graduates’ entry-level skills as meeting overall competency requirements.
  • Of graduates who seek employment, 70 percent are employed in nutrition and dietetics or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
  • At least 30% of employed graduates will be employed in programs serving AI/AN people.
  • At least 30% of graduates will be registered with a federally-recognized tribes.
  • Each year the mean program score on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists will meet or exceed the national mean score.

The SWDI program outcomes data are available upon request.


Program Calendar

The program activities are scheduled* as follows:

Duration  Rotation
1 week Orientation
14 weeks Clinical Nutrition:  PIMC Hospital
6 weeks Community Nutrition – Urban: PIMC; Primary Care Medical Clinic, Pediatric Clinic, Women’s Clinic; and local Indian communities.
3 weeks Food Service:  PIMC Hospital
4 weeks Community Nutrition – Pinon Health Center, Pinon, Arizona & Northern Medical Center, Shiprock, New Mexico
2 weeks Management:  PIMC Hospital
1 week Enrichment
1 week Closeout and Graduation

*Schedule is subject to change

2019-2020 SWDI Calendar is available here. [PDF 94 KB]


Graduation and Program Requirements

In order to complete the SWDI program, interns must have received the following:

  • Passing grades (at least a 3 or above on all curricula and “meets expectations” or above on all professional attributes) for all rotations
  • All curricula completed and signed by preceptors
  • Passing grades on all projects
  • All work must be completed and competencies met within 150% of the 1280-hour schedule for completion (i.e., 2400 hours)

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 indicating their eligibility to sit for the Registration Examination for Dietitians administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).


Cost to Intern

There are no tuition or application fees for the SWDI.

Costs to the intern may include:

  • Relocation to Phoenix, Arizona (if required).
  • Personal Vehicle and Travel Expenses:
    • Travel between PIMC and Pinon Health Center (for the 1st half of the rural community nutrition rotation) is about 275 miles from PIMC, requiring about 4.5 hours of travel time (one-way). One trip from Phoenix to Pinon is required; Additional trips will obviously increase travel costs.
    • Travel from Pinon, Arizona to Shiprock, New Mexico to complete the 2nd portion of the rural community nutrition rotation is required. The distance ranges from 129-165 miles depending on the chosen route. The estimated time travel is 2.5 to 3 hours. One trip from Pinon to Shiprock is required.
    • Travel from Shiprock, New Mexico back to Phoenix, Arizona to continue PIMC rotations is required. The distance ranges 372-394 miles and is dependent on the route taken to return to Phoenix. The estimated time travel is 6 to 7 hours. One trip from Shiprock to Phoenix is required.
    • Note: During the internship, the intern will be permitted to ride in a government vehicle on official duty, but will not be permitted to operate the vehicle. Passengers in government vehicles are covered by the federal government in the event of an incident. Interns traveling in their personal vehicles will assume all safety and liability responsibilities.
  • Housing in the Phoenix area: please check the many online resources for housing in the Phoenix area. Average monthly rent for apartments in Phoenix is $900-$1100.
  • Books and other reference materials not available on-site.
  • Medical exams and immunizations prior to arrival and health care during the internship.
  • Student membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is ~$64 per year.
  • Liability insurance. Cost is ~$24 per year for Student Members of the Academy.

Please note: Financial aid is not available for the SWDI. Interns participating in the Indian Health Service Scholarship Program should contact their Scholarship Coordinator to see if financial aid is available.


Application & Admission Requirements


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



  • 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.
  • 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 Pinon. The following documents are required as proof of identification: (a) Passport or (b) Driver's license PLUS Social Security card OR birth certificate.
  • You are responsible for your own housing while in Phoenix. During the Pinon and Shiprock rotation, government housing arrangements will be made for you by the Site Coordinators. Family, friends and pets may not occupy government housing.
  • No, you are responsible for your own transportation, including auto insurance and a current driver’s license. Pinon Health Center and Northern Navajo Medical Center range 4.5 to 7 hours drive from Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 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.
  • 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:



Application with DICAS

The SWDI uses the on-line Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS). The on-line application must be completed for our program by 11:59PM 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 for DICAS

Computer Matching

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

Contact information for D&D Digital


Accreditation Status

* In August 2019, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) placed the Southwestern Dietetic Internship (SWDI) on Probationary Accreditation status. The SWDI staff are working diligently to regain Full Accreditation as quickly as possible, and accreditation status will be re-evaluated by ACEND in July 2020 at the annual ACEND Board Meeting. Interns currently enrolled in the SWDI will be considered graduates of an accredited program pending graduation. If accreditation is withdrawn, students beginning the program after the withdrawal date will not be considered graduates of an accredited program.

Contact Information for ACEND

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
Phone: 800-877-1600, ext. 5400
Mail: 120 South Riverside Plaza
Suite 2190, Chicago, IL 60606-6995
Website: Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

SWDI Contact Information

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 ext. 1057