University of Southern Indiana

Practicum in Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

"Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced."- John Keats

USI's Practicum in Food and Nutrition program is an exceptional way to kick-start a career in the fields of Food, Nutrition,and Wellness by allowing students the opportunity to work side by side with professionals in this field. A Practicum is a course of study that is specifically designed for health professions students to actively apply the knowledge they have gained in the classroom in a real-world setting. The objective of this course is to allow students the opportunity to apply their skills in a professional setting, giving them the opportunity to interact with clients, thereby enhancing their learning experience through practical knowledge.

NUTR 420 has given numerous students the opportunity to work in their field of interest. Some areas students have worked in include, but are not limited to hospitals, food service operations, community settings, and fitness facilities. USI's program allows each student to customize his or her experience beginning with

1. Working one-on-one with faculty to select the site of the practicum.
2. Tailoring the length of the practicum from a floor of 50 hours to a ceiling of 300 hours.
3. Establishing goals to achieve during the practicum.


"My NUTR 420 practicum was invaluable in that it allowed me to embrace an understanding of the complexities of nutrition care after weight loss surgery. I was able to witness firsthand the emotional and physical hurtles patients face while developing a deeper understanding of the nutrition care process by providing nutritional education and assisting with nutrition assessments and counseling. I was able to gain life experience while networking with professionals in my field." 


Countless students, such as Sylvia, have benefited from setting practicum goals that have helped them to better understand the complex world of food and nutrition. Some goals previous students have established and achieved include, but are not limited to, identifying the most prevalent nutrition problems in the community and learning how to address these problems as an educator and counselor. Students have been given the opportunity to discern which methods of communication are most effective in a consultation, allowing them to respond accordingly via email, writing or phone. Other practicum goals have included gaining a deeper understanding of how to work with different learning levels, in addition to how socioeconomic status affects nutritional behavior in families as well as individuals.

For those working in fitness facilities promoting positive nutritional choices for traveling athletes was an unique learning opportunity offered by the practicum program. Students have also worked with clients on weight loss. These students were given the chance to apply their knowledge from the classroom in a real-world setting, thereby giving them the tools to individualize each weight loss goal and the client's motivations to help them better achieve these goals. Gaining an understanding of both the physical and emotional hurtles of weight loss was another practicum goal. Similarly, students have gained the opportunity to work in a professional setting, enabling them to become more familiar with distributing and administering assessment forms with clients and analyzing nutritional data. Overall, the practical knowledge and work experience students gain in the practicum program is bounded primarily by the time and effort they put forth to achieve their goals.

Participating in a practicum program gives USI students the chance to get the edge in their field. Some specific benefits from completing this program include:

• Gaining relevant knowledge, skills, and expertise
• Establishing connections in their future field of work
• Receiving invaluable professional work experience
• Building confidence and motivation
• Providing a professional reference for work habits and ethics
• Learning new skills
• Procuring more responsibility and application of knowledge

USI is dedicated to enhancing its student's practicum experience. Throughout this journey students will be working side by side with the Food and Nutrition Program Director, USI's Coordinator of Internships, and the designated Preceptor.

Application Information:

For students interested in taking the NUTR 420 course please submit a completed application and student profile to Amy Doninger, Food and Nutrition administrative assistant, in HP 2068 or email to .

NUTR 420 Application and Student Profile 


Applications and student forms must be completed, with an appointment scheduled with the F&N Program Director no later than

  • March 1 for the Summer Semester Practicum
  • May 1 for the Fall Semester Practicum
  • October 1 for the Spring Semester Practicum

Minimum Training and Profile Requirements:

It is the policy of the Food and Nutrition Program in the College of Nursing and Health Professions that those students intending to complete NUTR 420 internships must meet minimum training and profile requirements prior to beginning an approved internship. Student's documents and background check will be managed by Some expenses will apply.

Note: Some sites will require students to complete additional requirements as determined by that facility.

I. USI Food and Nutrition NUTR 420 Minimum Training and Profile Requirements: The following information provides a review of the minimum training and profile requirements for students wishing to complete an internship in NUTR 420.

  • Maintained a minimum GPA of 2.85 - at time of application
  • Nutrition 285, 376, and 381 - must be completed and passed at the time of application
  • Serv Safe food safety training - must be completed and passed at the time of application
  • Background check completed - must be completed using CertifiedBackground within the last 12 months
  • HIPAA training, confidentiality statement, and workforce member review of HIPAA policies - must be completed within the last 12 months
  • OSHA training - must be completed within the last 12 months and must be renewed annually
  • Flu Vaccine - must be completed during flu season
  • CPR training - must be completed prior to internship or on the first day of class

II. Additional Requirements as Required by Site (if providing medical care to patients involving direct patient care):

  • Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) 
  • Must follow USI infection control policy and procedures
  • TB
  • Must follow USI infection control policy and procedures
  • Hepatitis
  • Must follow USI infection control policy and procedures
  • Physical Exam
  • Must use USI form, must be completed within the last 12 months
  • Medical History
  • Must use USI form, must be completed within the last 12 months
  • Varicella
  • Must follow USI infection control policy and procedures

Contact Dr. Julie McCullough
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