Dietetic Internship Program
VA San Diego Healthcare System
Welcome to the VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) Dietetic Internship website. I hope you will find the answers to all of your questions while reviewing our site. 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.
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 over $24,000 for the 41 week (1640 hour) program.
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
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, Mission Valley 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.
The internship is a very rigorous 10-month program with an emphasis in Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) in Inpatient and Outpatient settings. It is made up of rigorous, fast-paced rotations and several extensive projects, including presentations, in-depth clinical case study, research project, theme meal and more. Successful interns have a strong academic background, are well organized, flexible, excellent time managers, possess leadership experience or abilities, have some work experience, and are comfortable being outside of their comfort zone. Successful completion of the dietetic internship program qualifies you to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). If you are not prepared for a very challenging and fast-paced experience, this internship may not be a good fit for you.
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 very homogeneous - it is made up of primarily adult men, however the population of women veterans is increasing. Interns have limited exposure to women and children, and little, if any, time is spent in non-traditional rotations such as sports nutrition, private practice, etc. If non-traditional areas of practice and women and children are areas of interest, this internship may not be a good fit for you.
As noted above, the VASDHS Dietetic Interns receive a generous stipend; the internship does not charge an application fee to apply to the program, and we do not charge tuition to attend the program. Applications are only accepted via the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System (DICAS) during the spring application cycle. Applicants must also register online for computer matching through D&D Digital. Details about the application process may be found on the VA San Diego Internship "Application Information" page.
Lastly, the virtual Open House held on Friday, January 13, 2023, from 10am-1pm (PST). A copy of the Open House slide presentation is available here.
If you have any questions unanswered by our website, you may contact me by phone at (858) 552-8585 ext. 2407 or send an e-mail to Robyn.Osborn@va.gov. The VA San Diego Dietetic Internship Program begins in mid-August and ends in late May.
Thank you for your interest in our program.
Robyn Osborn, PhD, RD
Dietetic Internship Director
Nutrition and Food Service (120)
VA San Diego Healthcare System
3350 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, California 92161-0002
(858) 552-8585 ext. 2407