Dietetic Internship Program
VA San Diego Healthcare System
Thank you for your interest in the VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) Dietetic Internship Program!The VASDHS Dietetic Internship was established in 1973 and is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
We offer a standalone, 10-month dietetic internship program with an emphasis in Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) in Inpatient and Outpatient settings, and is made up of a wide variety of clinical rotations and several extensive projects. We provide exceptional hands-on experiences in all rotations and 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of preceptor to intern. Projects are included in this supervised practice experience to help interns gain knowledge, skills and abilities in preparing professional presentations, case studies, research projects, theme meals, and more! The VA San Diego Dietetic Internship Program begins in mid-August and ends in late May. Additional information about our rotations and projects can be found HERE.
While the program exposes interns to the three traditional areas of dietetics practice, clinical, community/public health, and food service management, it primarily prepares interns to be clinical dietitians. The internship provides didactic and supervised-practice experiences that begin in the classroom and continue in the kitchen, at the patient's bedside, in the outpatient clinic, and in the home setting. As a hospital-based MNT internship, more than one-half of the supervised-practice is spent in rigorous clinical rotations (inpatient and outpatient), about one-fourth of the rotations are in food service management/administration, and less than one-fourth are in the community. Also, as a VA hospital, our patient population is made up of primarily adult men, however the population of women veterans is increasing and we have expanded opportunities for working in the areas of prenatal nutrition and disordered eating. Interns do have limited exposure to infants and children, and little time spent in non-traditional rotations such as sports nutrition, private practice, etc.
The VASDHS medical center is located 10 miles north of downtown San Diego and two miles north of downtown La Jolla. The VASDHS provides a wide range of inpatient and outpatient health services in the 296-bed medical center in La Jolla, and at the five community clinics located in Chula Vista, Escondido, Imperial Valley, Kearny Mesa and Oceanside. We are affiliated with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and provide training for over 1,400 medical interns, residents and fellows, as well as many other Associated Health Professions trainees, such as dietetics, nursing, pharmacy, social work, audiology, dental, and more. Our Nutrition and Food Service (NFS) provides quality nutritional care through its efficient foodservice, highly respected clinical nutrition care, and extensive outpatient education programs. Clinical Dietitians are consultants to professional, administrative, and medical staff. They coordinate nutrition intervention services with total patient care in both acute and primary managed care environments by assessing nutritional status, developing nutrition care plans, and recommending modalities for achieving nutritional goals.
Overall, we are looking for interns who are willing to grow, work hard, and become highly skilled and competent entry level dietitians. Because this can be an intense internship experience, we found successful interns have a strong academic background in clinical nutrition, are well organized, flexible, excellent time managers, possess leadership experience or abilities, are open to feedback, have some work experience, and are comfortable being outside of their comfort zone. Graduation from the VASDHS dietetic internship program qualifies you to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
Because the VA is a federal agency, you must be a US citizen to apply for and participate in our dietetic internship program. Effective October 7, 2021, all VA Health Professions Trainees, including dietetic interns, must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics credentialing agency, began requiring a minimum of a graduate degree to take the Dietetic Registration Examination. To ensure that our program graduates are eligible to take the RD exam after completing our internship program, VASDHS Dietetic Internship does require a master’s degree or above for application and admission to our program.
The VASDHS Dietetic Internship does not have a pre-select option and participates in the Spring Match via DND Digital. All applications must be submitted to the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS).
Additional information on Application Selection Criteria can be found HERE.
VA Internship Benefits:There are many benefits to receiving supervised practice at the VASDHS Dietetic Internship. Unlike many dietetic internships, the VASDHS Dietetic Internship charges no application fees and no tuition. Instead, like most VA-sponsored dietetic internships, we provide a generous stipend. The stipend for 2023-2024 is $24,600 for the 41-week (1640 hour) program, paid in bi-weekly amounts throughout the internship. As a dietetic intern at the VA, you will also receive federal holidays, annual leave (normally a week at the end of the year) and paid sick leave. While health benefits are not included in your internship stipend, you will have the option to purchase health insurance through the VASDHS, just as employees would.
Supervised practice hours are arranged by the dietetic internship director into a master schedule at the beginning of the internship with rotations individualized for each intern, ensuring their experiences are progressive and prepare for any culiminating experiences (such as theme meals, staff relief, etc.). The preceptors at the VA San Diego are highly trained and their role as preceptor is highly regarded by the nutrition and food service department. We offer primarily supervised practice in a professional work setting, with limited case study, role playing and simulation experiences.
Although the program has a heavy emphasis in clinical nutrition, the program is well-rounded with food service management rotations and projects, and community experiences at our affiliate sites (including San Marcos Unified School District, ARC WIC, and County of San Diego Health and Human Services). Within the VA San Diego, we have a growing population of female veterans and maternal care.
The VASDHS Dietetic Internship was established in 1973, one year after the hospital opened. It is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
120 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
312-899-0040 or 800-877-1600 ext. 5400
Open House for 2024-2025:We will have two virtual Open House options held on Friday, December 15, 2023 and January 12, 2024, from 10am-12pm (PST). Please register here and you will receive a link to attend the day before the open house. You can view the Open House slides here.
Open House session on Friday, December 15, 2023 - CLICK HERE
Open House session on Friday, January 12, 2023 - Coming Soon
Password for both recordings: VASDHSDIOpenHouse2024!
If you have any questions unanswered by our website, you may contact me by phone at (858)552-8585 X2407 or send an e-mail to Amanda.Hibshman@va.gov.
Thank you for your interest in our program.
Amanda Hibshman, MDA, RDN
Dietetic Internship Director | Clinical Dietitian
VA San Diego Healthcare System
Nutrition and Food Service (NFS) - 120
3350 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 92161
Office Phone: 858-552-8585 X2407
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers (what’s this?)