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Dietetic Internship Program

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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

Admission and Selection Criteria

For admission to the internship, an individual must complete the minimum academic requirements set forth by ACEND and be a U.S. citizen. There is NO application fee for this internship program. The GRE is NOT required. 

The following criteria must be met:
  • Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution earned prior to starting the internship/graduate program.
  • Applicants must possess an official Verification Statement of Completion from an accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), with original signatures issued within the last 5 years.

A maximum of six interns are appointed annually. A selection committee will review your application.

Your application will be scored on the following selection criteria:

  • Grade Point Average:  Candidates should have a GPA of 3.0 or greater.
  • Work and volunteer experience:  (excluding practicum experience) which show exposure to the field of nutrition and dietetics.
  • Extracurricular activities:  These may include student nutrition and dietetics or other service organization memberships, athletics, development of nutrition education materials and/or classes. Please be sure to highlight any leadership roles served. 
  • Letters of recommendation:  We are interested in how your college professors/instructors and work supervisors evaluate you and your work. Please choose professors/supervisors who can adequately assess your abilities to perform in a dietetic internship and as a registered dietitian nutritionist. Please submit only 3 letters of reference.

Video interviews are conducted for highest scoring candidates.

Application Procedures 

The following steps outline the application process. There are 2 parts, both of which must be completed for review by the committee:
  1. DICAS Application

The program is using the online centralized internship application, DICAS, which may be accessed here for the Spring Match; or for questions email DICAS. Our application period begins on August 5, 2024 and must be completed by January 15, 2025 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time. The fee to use DICAS is $50 for the first application submitted and $25 for each additional application. 

As part of the DICAS application process you will be asked to complete a personal statement in 1,000-1,500 words that address the following questions. We are looking for candidates who have overall goals that match what we can provide.

Key points to include in your personal statement are:

  • Why are you interested in the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Dietetic Internship Program?
  • Why do you want to enter the nutrition and dietetics profession?
  • What are some experiences that have helped to prepare you for your career?
  • What are your short-term and long-term professional goals?
  • What are your strengths and areas you are seeking to improve?
  • Provide an example where you served in a leadership role and describe what skills you demonstrated. 

Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended should be sent to:
DICAS Transcript Dept.
PO Box 9118
Watertown, MA 02471

When completing the DICAS application form, applicants must include the name and contact information (specifically an email address) for each reference. This will trigger an email message requesting completion of a reference form. The form will be completed online.

  1. University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health Application 
  • Begin the SOPHAS application process. Be sure to read all instructions carefully. Select USF College of Public Health, Master of Public Health, concentration in Nutrition and Dietetics and choose registration for the fall semester. Be sure to upload all required application materials. This must be completed by the DICAS deadline. Do not hit submit until your match to the Bay Pines Dietetic Internship is confirmed. Please visit here for application fee information. 
  • Once match to the Paul M. Russo Dietetic Internship is confirmed, you must submit the SOPHAS application and USF supplemental application to complete your application to the graduate portion of the program. The SOPHAS application will be verified by SOPHAS (allow two to four weeks after application is submitted). Please use this link to complete the USF supplemental application for the fall semester. (Select College of Public Health, Master of Public Health, concentration in Nutrition and Dietetics). The application fee is $30.
  • Both SOPHAS and USF applications must be submitted by April 1, 2025.
  • Once verified by SOPHAS, the application will be sent to USF and entered into the Graduate University System.
  • You will receive an email confirming your verified SOPHAS application has been received by USF. Once the USF application is completed and the fee has been paid, and all required College of Public Health supporting documents received, the application will be forwarded to the committee for review (allow two to four weeks).
  • Monitor your e-mail for decisions and other communications and be responsive to all requests.

Please note: All applicants must upload all application materials to SOPHAS by the deadline for computer matching (January 15). Incomplete applications will not be reviewed by the Paul M. Russo Dietetic Internship Selection Committee. Upon notification of appointment (March 15, 2025), the SOPHAS and USF application must be completed by April 1, 2025.

Appointment Procedures (Note: This section will be updated with additional details following the formal release of guidance from ACEND)

  • Applicants will receive notification of their application status on or before March 1, 2025. Applicants may receive an acceptance, waitlist status or rejection notification.
  • Applicants selected to the Paul M. Russo Dietetic Internship Program must notify the Dietetic Internship Director, Sharon Hickman, by email Sharon.Hickman@va.gov (preferred) or by telephone at (727) 398-6661, extension 14449 to confirm acceptance by March 15, 2025 at 3 pm (Eastern Time). After this time, the program has no commitment to hold offers to applicants.
  • For applicants on waitlist status, they will be notified of their acceptance should positions become available.
  • A letter will be sent to appointees confirming the dietetic internship appointment. This letter is considered tentative until the appointee has successfully completed all onboarding requirements of the VA (see below).
  • Before starting the internship program in August, the incoming intern must submit official transcripts and the DPD Verification Statement to the Dietetic Internship Director.

Onboarding Requirements

  • Appointees must be physically and mentally able to perform the responsibilities of a dietetic intern safely and efficiently.
  • Appointees will need to provide proof of immunization status (as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) and have a physical examination within the past year.
  • The Federal Government does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, age or disability. As part of the Federal Government's onboarding process, a background check is completed at no cost to the appointee.
  • Males must have registered for Selective Service or be exempt to be eligible to be admitted into the program. Males will be required to provide verification of status through Selective Service Online Registration Search.
Please note: As part of your training program requirements as a dietetic intern, you may be required to complete rotations at affiliate sites. The affiliates reserve the right to dismiss any trainee from a non-VA health care facility or agency assignment for unsatisfactory educational performance, noncompliance with the policies and procedures of the non-VA health care facility or agency, or for cause. The Dietetic Internship Director will provide you with a list of specific requirements for each affiliate site. These may include requirements for drug screening or other specific requirements that are not provided or required by the VA and for which the dietetic intern will be personally responsible.

Note: Links above will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.