Dietetic Internship Program
VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
Frequently Asked Questions
- I’ve heard it's very hard to get into a VA internship program because they are too competitive, and I shouldn't even bother applying. How competitive is admission to your internship program? VA Internship Programs have earned a reputation for being "too competitive". All Dietetic Internship Programs are competitive, and VA Dietetic Internship Programs are not more competitive than most internship programs throughout the country. VA Internship Programs are in teaching hospitals, provide a variety of hands-on experiences, have state-of-the art resources, and the VA pays a stipend. Candidates interested in applying to a VA Dietetic Internship Program should find out about the program, and see if the program matches the candidate's goals, mission, and philosophy. All interested persons should apply to a VA Dietetic Internship Program.
- Is the master’s degree mandatory to this internship program? Can I just do the dietetic internship by itself if I prefer? There are two track options for the program. Applicants interested in the internship only track must have a master’s degree prior to admission to the internship. Applicants interested in the MS/DI Combined Track must apply to both the University of Alabama and the VA ECHCS DI Program. Please note, 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).
- If I don't get accepted into the university for the Combined Master's Program Track, can I still be considered for the Non-Degree Program track? Not unless you also applied for the Non-Degree Program Track. We can only consider your application for the program track(s) you applied to.
- What is my workspace like? Interns have access to touch-and-go spaces at all VA sites. Touch-and-go spaces are equipped with desks, chairs, computers, printers, and office supplies. Interns have access to break rooms at all VA sites. Break rooms are equipped with tables, chairs, fridges, microwaves, and coffee machines.
- Is there a dress code or uniform required? A standardized color scrubs uniform is required for most of your clinical rotations; however, some rotations are business casual attire. You will be provided further instruction about your uniform once you are admitted to our program.
- Are books and other materials needed? You will need to provide your own notepaper, notebooks, pencils, and pens. In addition, there are several references that are recommended for your purchase. A list of references will be provided in advance.
- What will my rotation schedule be like? Your schedule will most often be Tuesday through Thursday during clinical rotation and Monday – Thursday during administrative and community nutrition rotations. Typical hours are 7:30am – 4:00pm or 8:00am – 4:30pm, your tour may be adjusted to accommodate your preceptor’s schedule. During the week of orientation, you will work 7:30am – 4:00pm Monday – Thursday. A full explanation of your schedule will be provided during orientation.
- Will I need a car to be a VA ECHCS Dietetic Intern? Yes, it is highly recommended. Rotations can occur at any VA ECHCS location as well as affiliation sites within the Denver Metro area and Colorado Springs, CO. Commuting is part of the program and requires reliable transportation.
- I read that the Covid-19 vaccination is required for your program. Are exceptions to this rule granted? Currently, the policy of the VA ECHCS is that any VHA employee (including Health Professions Trainees, i.e., Dietetic Interns) or volunteer who works in VHA facilities, visits VHA facilities, or provides direct care to those we serve is required to be fully vaccinated. Exceptions are approved on a case-by-case basis, and those with exceptions must comply with workplace safety protocols (i.e., appropriate masking and testing). Exceptions related to a medical condition, or a religious belief are processed as a request for reasonable accommodation to the vaccination requirement. Exceptions cannot be reviewed or approved prior to the onboarding process. HR does not address vaccine status with employees until they are offered employment, which would be after matching occurs. There is no way to get any exemption approved in advance, and there is no way to predict if exemptions will ultimately be honored at the time of employment. In addition to VA policies, VA ECHCS is subject to federal laws and executive orders, which means policies are frequently evolving. Students applying for our internship program who have not received the Covid-19 vaccination cannot be guaranteed that they will be able to complete their internship at the VA without receiving the vaccination. At any point, including after matching, after onboarding, or even after the internship has started, vaccination requirements may change, and the intern may no longer be able to complete supervised practice rotations at the VA if they are not vaccinated.
- Do we get a vacation? One week of vacation may be scheduled mid-way through the program to coincide with the holidays. Interns are also scheduled off for all Federal Holidays. Other vacation days are, typically, not approved by the Internship Director, because the time off could cause an intern's supervised practice hours to fall below 1000, which could result in a need for program extension.
VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Website
VA Eastern Colorado Health Care | Veterans Affairs
Should you have any questions about not answered above, please consider attending our open houses, more information found on the “Program Information Tab” or email Christine.Murphy5@va.gov