Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital - Dietetic Internship Program
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Dietetic Internship Program


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Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital

Nutrition and Food Services

The Nutrition and Food Services at Hines VA Hospital employs many dedicated individuals comprising approximately 127 FTEs in food service, clinical nutrition, and administrative positions including 30 Registered Dietitians. Operating with an annual budget of over 1.5 million dollars the department provides high quality food for approximately 1000 meals per day. The Nutrition and Food Services Department consists of highly skilled and dedicated dietitians and food service employees. Each employee of this progressive department is a member of a team striving to provide nutritious meals and optimal nutritional care while functioning within a cost-effective, cost-efficient healthcare environment. The dietetic intern plays an integral role in this team approach to total quality service.

Nutrition and Food Services is under the direction of a Registered Dietitian. The Food Service Systems (FSS) area employs several Registered Dietitians who oversee the food production and service, purchasing, quality assurance, computer enhancements, and staff development and training areas. Effective methods of food service management systems are employed. One satellite kitchen exists in the nursing home care unit, which services the Community Living Center (CLC) and long-term care spinal cord injury patients. This satellite kitchen provides both dining room and bedside tray delivery.

Our large staff of clinical dietitians provides clinical nutrition services to all inpatients as well as servicing an active outpatient area. The goal of the clinical staff is to provide excellent individualized nutritional care for each veteran. Each patient is screened by nursing within 24 hours of admission and assessed by dietitian, if appropriate, within 2 days of admission.  Nutritional care plans are developed based on individual need. Recommendations and evaluations are communicated to the members of the interdisciplinary healthcare team as well as documented in the Medical Record via computer. The clinical nutrition staff works cooperatively with both the patient and healthcare team to promote the nutritional well-being of the patient as well as satisfy our customer, the Veteran. Our outpatient RDs work on teams to provide a patient centered approach to medical care. In addition, we have Registered Dietitians using telehealth technology to teach classes and monitor patients remotely and even in their homes.

Communications have been enhanced both intra- and interdepartmentally by the Veterans Integrated Systems Technology Architecture (VistA) and the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS). The nationwide electronic mail system provides for communication within the hospital as well as throughout the 152 VA Medical Centers and numerous community-based clinics nationwide. The  computer system has automated many of the functions used by the clinical inpatient, outpatient, and administrative dietitians,  and uses a paperless medical record and administrative system. Clinical dietitians can access patient data through the consolidated Health Summary Program, Pharmacy, Laboratory, Nursing, Medical/Surgical, and Medical Administration programs. In addition, diet orders and nutrition consultations can be electronically ordered and processed. The Clinical Dietetics package has one of the most advanced Nutritional Assessment programs currently available as well as a nutrient analysis package. Computer generated nutritional screening and profile forms aid the dietitians in the assessment and documentation process.  Our Nutrition and Food Service adminstrative dietitians utilize Computrition software to assist in production, ordering, maintenance of a management reporting system, forecasting, and recipe analysis.

During the dietetic internship, the intern is trained to use all of the aforementioned programs. The intern becomes proficient in incorporating these computer programs into daily functions.

Education plays an integral role in the Nutrition and Food Services department at Hines as well as in the philosophy of the hospital. Hines is dedicated to educating students and practitioners in all healthcare disciplines. This creates an environment that fosters continuing education and stimulates interest in research endeavors. This truly sets the stage for dietetic education. Support from the hospital top management for the Dietetic Internship program at Hines exemplifies the commitment toward continued learning and advancement of the profession.

Program Completion Requirements

The interns must accomplish the following in order to graduate from the program:

  • Successfully complete the scheduled 42 weeks of supervised practice experience, class day lectures, and other required projects and activities, with a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised practice.
  • Satisfactorily complete the requirements of each unit rotation.
  • Complete all assignments and projects by established deadlines.
  • Complete staff relief experience and walking rounds with an overall satisfactory performance rating based on established criteria.
  • Complete a Performance Improvement/Quality Assurance (PI/QA) project according to guidelines and criteria established by the Internship.
  • Show evidence of attendance, through completion of required documents, at a minimum of three professional meetings, as well as participation in other voluntary and leadership activities in the community during non-supervised practice or otherwise scheduled hours.
  • Attend all workshops and seminars scheduled and required by the Internship throughout the program. 

After graduation, interns will be qualified for an entry-level position within the Department of Veteran Affairs, the largest employer of dietitians in the United States, or for an entry-level position in a variety of other organizations such as healthcare institutions, public health/community agencies, private industry, hospital and school foodservice, and college and university nutrition and food services. Assistance with job placement is provided near the end of the internship year as well as after graduation from the program.

Interns are NOT given credit for any hours of prior learning or professional experience outside the dietetic internship.