Dietetic Internship Program
Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System - Program Rotations
At the SAVAHCS Dietetic Internship, supervised practice rotations occur primarily on our campus and clinics. Our program consists of three blocks of clinical rotations and two blocks of foodservice management. The program starts in September and ends in August of the following year. During most rotations, interns are scheduled at the VA for 3 days per week, allowing 2 days per week for graduate coursework and homework. Outside employment is not recommended. Work days and hours may vary depending on the preceptor schedule. Interns have one week of vacation during the winter school break and have most federal holidays off. Some sick leave is excused; however, excessive absence must be made up to meet ACEND competency requirements. All rotations are at SAVAHCS, except 1-2 weeks of pediatrics and 2 weeks of foodservice at a school district.
Boot Camp Orientation 3 weeks
Inpatient Clinical 17 weeks
- Acute Care / GI & Liver
- Nutrition Support / ICU
- Staff Relief
Outpatient Clinical 8 weeks
- Primary Care / Diabetes
- Community VA Clinic
- Women’s Health
- Health Promotion & Wellness
Specialty Clinical 14 weeks
- MOVE Weight Management Program
- Renal / Dialysis
- Home Based Primary Care / Geriatrics
- Staff Relief
Food Service Management 7 weeks
Evidence Based Practice / Research 2 weeks
During Boot Camp Orientation, interns are provided with an overview of SAVAHCS, the organizational structure of the department and pertinent policies and procedures. Through a variety of didactic classes, role plays, simulations, observations and assessments, interns are prepared to begin their clinical rotations. The nutrition care process and electronic medical record navigation and documentation are covered in full detail to ensure readiness.
All clinical rotations are designed to prepare interns with both broad-based and in-depth experiences in clinical nutrition. Interns master basic skills and progress in patient complexity throughout the clinical rotation blocks. General rotations (acute care, primary care and surgery) will include a variety of patients and include assignments that focus on one or two diseases such as cardiac or gastrointestinal diseases. Disease specific rotations (diabetes, renal and oncology) provide a deep dive into those specific medical conditions. Home based primary care (HBPC) and the rehab/palliative/hospice care rotations offer unique experiences in gerontology. The MOVE! Program is a comprehensive national weight management program, and along with the health promotion rotation, allow the intern to participate in wellness activities for groups. The intensive care unit rotation focuses on specialized nutrition support working with the critical care medicine team. The women’s health clinic consists of an all-female health care team. At the end of clinical blocks, interns complete a staff relief rotation working as an entry-level dietitian with reduced preceptor supervision.
Food services rotations are at the SAVAHCS and Tucson Unified School District. Through a variety of projects and hands-on assignments, interns learn about food service systems, production, food safety, procurement, and management. A comprehensive group project involving recipe development culminates the rotation at the VA to cover many food service related competencies. Other topics covered during these rotations include fiscal management, employee training, human resources, food safety and sanitation. A unique leadership rotation focuses on executive management, strategic planning and higher-level administration collaboration with other services and programs.
A rotation focusing on evidence based practice (EBP) and research is designed to promote scientifically focused entry-level dietetic practitioners. During this rotation, competencies surrounding research evaluation and application, analysis of EBP, research methodology, human subject ethics, and professional presentations will be assessed. Interns will have the opportunity to work on their final capstone project for their graduate degree and present in a formal fashion to the professional staff at SAVAHCS. Capstone projects may be EBP, process improvement, or quality management endeavors.