Date of Award


Degree Name

Leadership Studies


College of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Dennis Anderson Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Bethel

Third Advisor

Dr. Edna Meisel


Competency-based education is used in several healthcare profession educational programs. Competency-based education has been at the forefront of dietetics education for several years and continues to this day. It is used in the undergraduate programs as well as in dietetic internships. The mastery of these competencies reflects the skillset a student or intern has achieved to be ready to advance to the next level. For an undergraduate student, mastery of all undergraduate competencies would indicate the ability to graduate the program and be eligible to apply to a dietetic internship. For a dietetic intern, mastery of all competencies would indicate that the intern would be eligible to complete the internship and would possess the skillsets to be ready for entry level practice as a registered dietitian nutritionist. Mastering these competencies by an undergraduate student takes place in the classroom through education, assignments and experiences. The best-case scenario of the mastery of these competencies as an intern is in the supervised practice field experience with a preceptor. A preceptor is an individual who is considered a professional in their field of expertise. At times, a competency cannot be met in the field and is then met through alternative means. An internship director is responsible for devising strategies to assist the intern in meeting competencies. The purpose of this study was to compare the perceptions of directors of onsite (traditional) and distance internships regarding any challenges they may face in implementing strategies to meet core competencies. This study was based on a non-experimental quantitative and qualitative data collection design utilizing descriptive survey research. During the first phase of the study a pilot study was conducted, given that there were no previously developed surveys available. The second phase of the study included sending out a survey to 35 distance internship directors and 35 to onsite (traditional) internship directors. The results of the study showed that there were three core competencies among 41 core competencies with significant differences between onsite (traditional) and distance internship directors’ perceptions of challenges. The results of this study also showed the many challenges that are faced by distance and onsite (traditional) internship directors who are devising strategies to meet the core competencies. The results of this study also showed no significant differences in the success of graduates of onsite (traditional) and distance internships on the national registration examination for dietitians. The results of this study also showed that many of the onsite (traditional) and distance internship directors perceive that the mastery of core competencies during an internship does not have much influence on first-time pass rates on the national registration examination. This study informs dietetic internship directors or any other healthcare profession educational program that uses competency-based practices as to the challenges that are faced in devising strategies to meet these competencies. This study also informs internship directors of possible strategies to overcome these challenges. This study complements past research studies as it showed that there are quality experiences and successes of graduates of both onsite (traditional) and distance internships.


Competency-based education – Curricula – United States – Evaluation.

Competency-based education – Methods.

Dietetics – Study and teaching (Internship).

Distance education – Evaluation.

Educational tests and measurements.

Distance education – Curricula.

Internship programs.