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


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Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital


  • 2 weeks Orientation
  • 5 weeks Food Service Systems (FSS)
  • 1 week Management
  • 28 weeks Clinical Practice/MNT in both inpatient and outpatient settings 
    • 10 weeks General Medicine (Surgery, Oncology/Hematology, Cardiology) as well as Geriatrics/Long Term Care (LTC) and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
    • 6 weeks specialty rotations
      • 2 weeks Pediatrics
      • 2 weeks Nutrition Support Team (NST)/Critical Care
      • 2 weeks Renal
    • 5 weeks Outpatient Nutrition Counseling (individual and group)
    • 2 weeks Home Based Primary Care (HBPC)
    • 2 weeks Hines VA MOVE! Weight Management Program
    • 3 weeks Professional Practice/Staff Relief
  • 4 weeks Community
  • 1 week vacation
  • 1 week final evaluations, documentation for RD exam eligibility, and preparations for graduation

Program Schedule

The internship is a 42 week program (41 weeks of orientation and supervised practice rotations, plus one week of scheduled vacation). The 2020-2021 internship program will begin on August 17, 2020 and conclude on the first or second week of June 2021.  The dietetic intern can expect to be scheduled for forty hours per week, typically including one class day per week. The typical work week is Monday through Friday and scheduled hours will vary with each individual rotation. There may be occasional weekend duty. Additional hours outside of work and classroom (typically at least 3-4 hours daily plus additional hours on weekends to study, work on assignments/study guides/projects, and complete other program requirements such as volunteer and community service activities) are necessary to successfully complete the internship requirements. The internship curriculum also requires interns to attend weekly lectures and a variety of workshops, seminars, field trips, and classes covering many areas of dietetics practice.  The Hines VA Dietetic Internship Program works in conjunction with the other Chicago area internship programs to plan and sponsor most of these workshops and seminars.


There is one week of vacation scheduled at the end of December, and Federal Holidays are observed, with no work or classes scheduled for the interns. Observed Federal Holidays include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. During orientation a schedule of unit rotations will be provided to interns.


The first two weeks of the internship are spent in general orientation. Interns receive an in-depth introduction to the internship program, the department's organization, policies and procedures, and an overview of the philosophy and goals of the internship program, Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, and the VA. Training in Computrition and the diets provided to Hines VA patients are also included in orientation. The interns are introduced to the Food and Nutrition staff as well as key administrators in the facility. Staff members teach classes on nutritional assessment, nutrition counseling, documentation in the medical records, food service systems, and other relevant topics to prepare for the upcoming supervised practice rotations.

Food Service Systems


The Food Service Systems experience is five weeks in length. These experiences allow interns to participate in:

  • Food production operations as well as patient meal service including: purchasing food and equipment, budgeting, supervisory controls in a centralized and decentralized food service setting, employee education and training
  • Sanitation and safety inspections & HACCP procedures
  • Quality and Performance Improvement activities
  • Marketing functions

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Clinical Dietetics/Medical Nutrition Therapy


The clinical dietetics MNT experience is 28 weeks in length including Professional Practice/Staff Relief. During the clinical rotations interns:

  • Develop a working knowledge of medical terminology, disease states, and medical/surgical procedures
  • Develop nutritional care plans using the Nutrition Care Process; interpret laboratory values, assess nutritional status of patients and document recommendations in the electronic medical record
  • Provide nutritional counseling to patients and teach patient education classes
  • Monitor the effectiveness of nutrition services provided
  • Function as a member of the healthcare team and serve as a nutrition resource for healthcare professionals and patients
  • Document all patient care services in the computerized medical record

The clinical rotations are sequenced to build upon the basics and show progression toward assumption of professional responsibilities.

Clinical/MNT Practice is conducted in the following areas:

  • Cardiology
  • Oncology/Hematology
  • Surgery
  • Geriatrics/Long Term Care
  • Spinal Cord Injury/Rehab Medicine
  • Outpatient Nutrition Counseling for individuals and groups
  • Home Based Primary Care (HBPC)
  • MOVE! Weight Management Program

Interns progress to more specialized areas of nutrition practice which include:

  • Renal
  • Pediatrics
  • Nutrition Support (parenteral and enteral)

The culmination of the clinical experience is a three-week Professional Practice/Staff Relief rotation during which the intern is expected to be able to assume the role and responsibilities of a staff dietitian.

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Community Nutrition

The Community Nutrition rotations are comprised of a total of four weeks in a variety of community practice settings. The dietetic interns work together with community/public health dietitians in various settings to provide nutrition education promoting health & wellness to the general public as well as in employee wellness. Highlights in the community rotations include: presentations, developing publications for media, health fairs, planning, implementing and evaluating nutrition education programs.
Community Nutrition experiences will include opportunities for supervised practice in a variety of practice settings, including some but not all of the following depending on preceptor and scheduling availability during the internship:

  • Women, Infant, Children (WIC) Clinics (DuPage County Department of Public Health and the Well Child Center/Elgin )
  • MOVE! Rotation including work with the MOVE! Weight Management Program
  • Jesse Brown VA Employee Wellness Program
  • Heartland Alliance Health: Clinics for individuals with HIV/AIDS, food pantries and other sites serving the homeless and other community members.
  • Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health: Disordered Eating specialty practice setting
  • Hines Child Care Center

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Each intern will complete at least one Performance Improvement/Quality Assurance (PI/QA)/research project during the program.  Interns will receive guidance from staff members, other healthcare professionals, and the Internship Director. These projects require significant work outside of the normal work week, but provide valuable opportunities and practical experience to support the responsibilities of an entry-level Registered Dietitian in all areas of nutrition and dietetics practice.

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