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Dietetic Internship Program

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Michael E. DeBakey Houston VA Medical Center

Supervised Practice Rotation Experiences

Interns complete all rotations at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) and its affiliated sites. The program is approximately 1600 clock hours in length; this is approximately 34% more than the 1200 hour minimum required by ACEND which allows for more depth in training for various practice areas. The average work day is eight hours but additional time is sometimes necessary at home after hours to complete projects, assignments and unit readings. On rare occasions, interns are scheduled to work on a holiday or weekend. The program will begin in August with orientation and complete at the end of July with staff relief and graduation. An approximate breakdown of the primary rotation blocks  is listed below and a more detailed description follows:

  • 2019-2020 Internship Begins August 5, 2019
  • Orientation/Clinical Training: 3-4weeks
  • Inpatient Clinical Practice: 18 weeks
  • Food Service Administration: 4 weeks
  • School Food Service: 3 weeks
  • Outpatient: 6 weeks
  • Home Base Primary Care: 3 weeks
  • Community: (Houston Food Bank/ WIC) 3 weeks
  • Management: (Clinical and General)  4 weeks
  • Staff Relief: ~4 weeks
  • Graduation July 17, 2020
  • Vacation/Holidays: 2 weeks (Thanksgiving Day and the Day After ( 11/28/19 & 11/29/19), 1 week Christmas (12/23/19-12/27/19), and 1 week Spring Break (3/9/20-3/13/20) *Dates are subject to change*
  • Federal Holidays (Interns will observe federal holidays which occur during their rotations. Ex:Memorial Day & Indepenence Day

* Please do not make any scheduled plans prior to receiving a final schedule. These dates are subject to change*

Note: In our program, interns are scheduled for rotations 4 days each week during the fall and spring semesters for a total of 32 hrs/week.  Between semesters and during the summer, rotations are scheduled over the entire five-day work week (Monday through Friday) for a total of 40hrs.week. Outside employment is not recommended. Some sick leave is excused however, excessive absence must be made up to meet ACEND requirements.

General Orientation

The first week of the internship is spent in general orientation. Interns are provided with an overview of the MEDVAMC's mission, philosophy and vision. They learn about the organizational structure of the department and are informed of important policies and procedures. Interns meet the Food and Nutrition staff and key administrators in the facility.

Clinical Orientation and Training

Interns are scheduled to participate in a variety of didactic classes, role plays, simulations, observations, quizzes and other experiences to assure they are prepared to enter clinical rotations. Classes include nutritional assessment, nutrition counseling, documentation in the medical record, and food service systems. A number of classes summarize nutritional care for diseases and conditions commonly encountered in the clinical setting (i.e. renal, cardiac, and liver) and are associated with case study examples. Because the VA operates using a completely paperless medical record and utilizes multiple software, a number of computer training classes provided.

Clinical Nutrition

image showing Clinical Dietetics

The clinical medical nutrition therapy experience is comprised of  rotations which provide interns both broad-based and in-depth experiences in nutritional care.  Clinical rotations are designed to allow the intern to first master basic clinical skills before progressing to more specialized areas and assuming additional professional responsibilities. Clinical rotation areas may include, but are not limited to long term care, medicine, cardiology, surgery, intensive care, and nutrition support. Interns gain knowledge in a wide variety of diseases and conditions including oncology, cardiology, liver disease, and renal disease. Experiences may also include the following clinical areas: spinal cord injury, rehabilitation, transplant, mental health and substance abuse.

  

Administration and Foods Service Image

Administration and Food Service Systems Managment

Rotations are planned to provide interns with a variety of food service systems and management experiences within the VA hospital and also in school food service with Klein Independent School District.  Interns learn about food production and procurement, food service systems, menu planning, recipe development, employee education, sanitation, safety, personnel management, and a number of other administrative experiences.

General Management

Additionally, interns work with the NFS Service chief, the NFS Assistant Chief and the Clinical Nutrition manager, where they hone leadership, marketing, and management skills. They participate in performance improvement, systems redesign, lean management, personnel management, fiscal management, budget planning, and interdisciplinary leadership meetings. Through projects, meetings, and role plays, interns gain an understanding of skills needed in upper management and leadership roles.

Outpatient Nutrition

Community image

The outpatient nutrition rotation provide interns with an understanding of the role of the dietitian/nutritionist in a managed care setting. Experiences include VA Outpatient Nutrition Clinics such as the Nutrition Clinic, Individual Weight Management Clinic, Eating Discorders Clinic, Transplant Clinic, and Oncology Clinic. Interns will also work with the MOVE! Weight Management Program. Interns provide individual counseling, teach group classes, organize health promotion events, and participate in a variety of community health and wellness projects.

Home Base Primary Care

This is a unique rotation in which the intern travels to the Veterans home with the RDN preceptor and conducts in home nutrition assessment and provides in home diet education as needed. 

Community Nutrition

The community nutrition rotations provide interns with an understanding of the role of the dietitian/nutritionist in a variety of agencies and programs in the local community. Expriences include Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program as well as the Houston Food Bank. Interns will have an opportunity to participate in a variety of community health and wellness projects.

Staff Relief Experience 

Staff relief provides a capstone experience in which interns assume the duties of a dietitian. This 3-4week rotation affords interns an opportunity to build confidence and demonstrate they are competent to enter practice as entry-level dietitians.

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