Latinx minorities are critically underrepresented in the nutrition/dietetics (ND) profession. The Eye to the Future (ETTF) internship aims to increase the diversity of the ND and healthcare field by providing an internship experience that offers obesity prevention and treatment training, mentoring, and career/professional development for Latinx undergraduate students.
The objective of this study was to examine whether the ETTF internship improved nutrition knowledge, health career readiness, and professional development.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Quasi-experimental one-group design study conducted at university setting. The sample consisted of 24 Latinx undergraduate students with 21 students (87.5%) completing the internship program. Interns’ mean age was 23.9 (SD = 6.9). Most of interns reported a major in Nutrition. Interns participated in 20 weekly sessions that included: 1) didactic and experiential learning activities related to the development, implementation, and evaluation of a community-based lifestyle program for minority adolescents; and 2) mentoring, career/professional development workshops and career fairs.
Health career readiness was assessed with an 8-item self-report survey, rated on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all confident) to 5 (extremely confident), at baseline (Cronbach's α = .82) and post-practicum (Cronbach's α = .87). Interns also completed a 72-item nutrition knowledge exam at baseline and post-internship. Paired samples t-tests were conducted to compare career readiness and nutrition knowledge pre- and post-internship. Qualitative interviews were recorded and coded for major themes.
Students reported a significant increase in career readiness from baseline (M = 3.53, SD = 0.63) to post-practicum (M = 4.22, SD = 0.56) [t(7) = 3.06, P = .018]. Moreover, students significantly improved their nutrition knowledge from baseline (M = 37.60, SD = 7.49) to post-practicum (M = 44.00, SD = 6.66) [t(9) = 3.70, P = .005]. Students also reported that they gained better communication skills from their participation in the internship program.
The Eye to the Future internship serves as a model for educators to encourage underrepresented students to enter the ND profession.