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Dietetic Internship Program

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Michael E. DeBakey Houston VA Medical Center

Becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Becoming an RDN is a three-step process

  1. First complete an undergraduate or graduate ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD).  The DPD provides all of the prerequisite and core dietetic courses needed for preparation for the supervised practice portion of the RDN training. 
  2. The supervised practice portion is completed during the dietetic internship which is the second step to become an RDN. Completing an internship at MEDVAMC would be this step.
  3. After successful completion of a dietetic internship you must then take and pass the national Registration Examination for the RDN credential, which is administered by the Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR)*
**Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master's degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietition nutritionist (RDN). In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). After obtaining your RDN, it is encouraged to obtain state licensure as applicable since it may be required with non-federal employers.  For more information about educational pathways to become an RDN please visit https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend/students-and-advancing-education/information-for-students


Program Overview

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) has been in existence for 67 years, graduating its first class in 1952. For more than 30 years, the program has been affiliated with Texas Woman's University providing students with an edge in today's competitive job market. This combined Master of Science Degree-Dietetic Internship is a  12 month program that allows interns to become a masters prepared Registered Dietitian in a relatively short time frame. Students complete the supervised practice rotations in 12 months and depending on the Master's route chosen, interns may complete their Masters in 12-16 months. Students may choose from two options for completion of their Masters. The thesis route or a coursework option which includes a research capstone. Graduate coursework is completed via face to face courses, on-line courses, hybrid courses, and video teleconference. Our program prepares entry-level dietitians through an integrated approach that reinforces and builds upon the required dietetics academic preparation.

Up to 8 interns are accepted each year. The program offers a unique opportunity to study nutrition both in the classroom at TWU and in a variety of healthcare environments during the supervised practice portion completed with MEDVAMC and its affiliates. Upon graduation from the program, the intern will be eligible to take the Registration Examination for dietitians. Completion of the Master of Science degree in Nutrition provides an edge in today's competitive job market.

Curriculum

During the 12 months of the program, interns participate in a wide variety of learning experiences which are focused on clinical dietetics, food service systems management and administration, community nutrition, wellness, and business and industry. Professional conferences and seminars allow for additional training. Dietetic interns learn under the direction of an experienced staff of dietitians whose expertise and specialties include:

  • Oncology
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Renal disease
  • Surgery
  • Transplantation
  • Primary care
  • Long-term care
  • Rehabilitative medicine
  • Home-based care
  • Specialized nutrition support
  • Weight management
  • Wellness
  • Community

Supervised practice experiences and course work are combined throughout the twelve month program. Interns attend classes on campus one day per week or participate in on-line or hybrid courses and spend the remainder of the week at MEDVAMC or at an affiliate training site. Weekends are usually free. After the internship is completed, the intern is eligible to sit for the registration examination of the Commission on Dietetic Registration.  If desired, interns may elect to begin academic courses during the summer prior to the start date of the internship.

About the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is one of the largest facilities in the VA system. The facility and its leadership have received many national awards. Each academic year, more than 1,000 students receive training at MEDVAMC. In addition to dietetic interns, health care students from fields such as nursing, social work, physical therapy, pharmacy, and a wide range of medical and surgical specialties receive training at MEDVAMC. To learn more, visit the facility's website.

Internship Graduation Requirements

The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) establishes requirements for eligibility to take the entry-level registration examination for dietitians. Current requirements include academic preparation (minimum of a baccalaureate degree; completion of an ACEND accredited program in Dietetics), completion of an ACEND accredited supervised practice program and confirmation of academic practice requirements by verification. Verification of academic and didactic requirements is necessary for entry in the MEDVAMC Dietetic Internship. Successful completion of the internship allows the student to meet the second requirement of CDR (completion of an ACEND accredited supervised practive program). Graduates of the internship are eligible to take the Registration Exam for Dietitians once successful completion of the program is reached. Attainment of the RDN credential also establishes eligibility for certification and or licensure at the state level.

Program Completion:

  • Satisfactorily completes all unit rotations in the supervised practice experience.
  • Registers for required courses at TWU-Houston using suggested curriculum for fall, spring and summer terms; maintains GPA and grades in accordance with established minimums set by TWU.
  • Completes all assignments by established deadlines.
  • Completes staff relief experience, meeting all ACEND competencies based on established criteria.
  • Pays all fees necessary to attend required meetings, purchase needed resources, and to complete other activities as needed
  • Attends all field trips, workshops and seminars as scheduled during the year
  • Returns all government-issued or borrowed property at the conclusion of the program
  • Abides by all applicable laws governing the conduct of government employees including trainees

For more information or to make an appointment to tour the facility, please contact:
Kristy Becker, MS, RD, LD, FAND, VHA-CM
Director, Dietetic Internship Program
Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center Houston
713-179-1414 ext 25290