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Dietetic Internship Program

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Michael E. DeBakey Houston VA Medical Center

ESTIMATED ANNUAL BUDGET

  • Application Fee for Internship - NONE
  • Application Fee for Graduate School - $50*
  • Tuition and Fees for MS Degree Estimated Costs - ~$12,600 (resident) to $27,000 (nonresident)**
  • Housing - $1000 - $1500/month
  • Parking - $varies***
  • Transportation - discounts available for students
  • Liability Insurance - $36
  • Heath Insurance Premium: - Basic: ~$1,150 - Comprehensive: ~$1,500 (can vary in price with carrier)
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Student Membership - $58            
  • Southeast Region of Nutrition and Dietetics Student Membership - $0
  • Books and Supplies - $400-$800
  • Professional Meetings - $600
  • Background check - free
  • Drug Testing- Not required by VA *****
  • Lab coats - free provided from VA
  • Scrubs - optional and can range in price from $25-50 (Black scrubs only)
  • Physical - free
  • Pager - free
  • Immunizations (PPD, Hep B, flu shot) - free when completed at VA ******

*Important note regarding application to graduate school:  Early application is strongly encouraged especially for those students seeking scholarships for support. TWU policy allows scholarship recipients to pay resident tuition rates offering a very substantial benefit to non-residents of Texas. Over the course of the year, the difference will likely result in at least $10,000 in tuition savings for non-resident scholarship recipients. Minimum of $1000 TWU competitive scholarship required.

**Again, students who obtain at least $1,000 in competitive scholarship money from TWU are allowed to pay in-state (resident) tuition rates for the fall and spring semester. Because fees vary from year to year, you should contact the TWU Registrar's Office to get current prices. The Registrar can be reached at 713-794-2320 or you may go to the TWU website.

*** Parking is free at the VA. While at TWU or affiliated sites, interns may incur parking fees. There are several ways to reduce parking costs (free apartment shuttles, light rail system, discount student fares for public transportation such as Metro, discount parking lots, car pooling) so parking costs vary greatly.

**** The Southeast Region of Nutrition and Dietetics is our region affiliate and the membership rate is $0.00 for all members.

*****VA does not drug test interns, but some affiliate sites may require random drug testing and the cost arrangements would be the responsibility of the intern.

******Sometimes your VA physical may indicate you need additional titers for previous vaccines received. These are not free at VA and will need to be completed with your private physician.

Financial Aid and Scholarship:
VA dietetic interns are compensated through a stipend which is  paid biweekly over the course of the 12 month internship. While the amount of the stipend is dependent on available funds and may vary from year to year, the amount is currently expected to be approximately $15,000- $16,000. Financial aid is available through TWU in the form of scholarships and student loans. A non-resident student who receives a competitive scholarship in the amount of $1,000 or more from TWU pays in-state tuition rates for the fall and spring semester. Scholarships, fellowships and loans are also available  for interns or graduate students through a variety of sources. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation* and the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation * offer excellent scholarship opportunities. 

Information about the TWU scholarships can be found at the TWU website TWU Scholarships

BENEFITS 

  • The stipend helps offset living expenses: Interns continue to receive a stipend which is paid biweekly throughout the scheduled program. The amount of the stipend is anticipated to be approximately $15,000. The amount of each check varies depending on whether  graduate school is in session.
  • Central location offers ideal learning environment: Interns in our program are able to complete the majority of the program requirements in one location. Many interns actually choose to live within one block of the VA campus. Feedback from graduates reveals this is seen as a benefit as it allows more time to focus on learning new skills. Our facility is a comprehensive medical center with growing emphasis on wellness, disease prevention, and new technologies. To learn more about the VA's nutrition and health promotion initiatives, visit the following websites:www.nutrition.va.govwww.move.va.gov; www.prevention.va.gov 
  • Excellent preparation for the RD Exam: The program has an excellent track record when considering success of our graduates in passing the Registration Examination for Dietitians on the first try. For the last 10 years, every intern who has completed the program has passed the exam on the first try. Scores are above the national average, again demonstrating the strength of the program.
  • Excellent preparation for employment: While employment in VA is not required, the vast majority of program graduates report they would like to work in the VA system. The program director assists program graduates in job placement both within and outside the VA. VA careers offer many benefits and VA salaries are very competitive. Positions are available at any of the many facilities across the nation and include positions in a variety of practice areas (clinical, administrative, outpatient, home based care, wellness and telehealth).
  • Salaries are highly competitive: Entry level salaries are competitive and promotion to higher levels is common.  At the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC, the starting salary is currently $45,200 (GS 7, without MS degree) and  $55,289 (with an MS degree). With successful performance, salary increases to $66,893 by the start of the third year, exceeding the salary average for dietitians nationwide. Dietitian positions range from GS-7 to GS-14 and salaries are posted online.
  • Student Loan Repayment Programs: The Education Debt Reduction Program allows for possible repayment of student loans for recently hired clinical professionals. Dietitians may be eligible to receive funding of $6000 during the first year, $8000 during the second year, and $10,000 for the third through fifth years if they continue to work for the VA over this five year period. This program offers a maximum benefit $44,000 to pay qualifying student loans. This program will vary from VA facility to facility and may not be available at all locations. This program is not available in Houston for dietitians.
  • Free parking: Parking is free at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.
  • Transportation discounts: Transit benefits may be available to subsidize transportation costs.
  • No fee for employment physical, background check, lab coats, or pagers.

 

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