Dietetic Internship Program
Michael E. DeBakey Houston VA Medical Center
I am pleased to be able to share with you information about the Dietetic Internship Program at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC). This Dietetic Internship is part of the combined Dietetic Internship/Master's Degree Program. Originally established in 1952, the program has been a combined master's degree program for more than 30 years. This program has a long history of preparing outstanding dietitians who go on to pursue many different avenues of professional practice. I'm confident that after browsing through our website, you will find our program can provide you with a superb training experience while keeping your out-of-pocket costs in check.
I would like to summarize some unique qualities and opportunities which may not be immediately apparent as you browse through our website:
Generous stipend: A stipend of about $15,000.00 is paid over the 12 months of the program while students are completing the supervised practice experiences. You will be eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians after completing the dietetic internship program. Interns are typically able to complete their Masters within 12-16 months, but some may take longer. To have both the master's degree and registered dietitian nutritionist credential will enhance your marketability as you seek your first professional position.
Affordable tuition: While the cost of tuition is rising everywhere, you'll find tuition in Texas remains far below the national average. Some students are surprised to find that the non-resident tuition rates remain lower than resident rates in their home state. If you are not a Texas resident and receive at least $1,000 in scholarships from TWU, you may be eligible to pay tuition at the resident rates a savings of at least $10,000!
No other fees: There is no fee to apply to our program and interns do not pay any fees to complete the dietetic internship portion of the program. The VA also pays many other miscellaneous costs and provides some items at no charge to students (i.e. lab coats, background checks, immunizations).
Great learning environment: The VA is a leader in health care patient safety and has a fully computerized patient record system (CPRS). The MEDVAMC is the fourth largest VA in the Nation and offers a rich training environment filled with a wide-variety of different clinical practice areas. The program maintains a number of affiliations to ensure interns gain experience in areas not available at VA (i.e. WIC, school food service, community food banks, etc.). We have a very dedicated and experienced staff of dietitians.
Increased job opportunities: In planning for the future, keep in mind that we will assist you to find employment in the government or in the private sector. Within VA, there are many opportunities for career mobility and career advancement! Emerging areas include geriatrics, wellness, telehealth, health promotion disease prevention,weight management and outpatient counseling. At the Houston VA, the starting salary with a Masters is $57,777 and increases to $69,904 after one year. Within only a few years, many dietitians in the VA earn a higher salary than those who have been working in the private sector for 20 years!
Tuition reimbursement: I am pleased to inform you that the VA has implemented a program that will pay student loans for recently hired clinical professionals in hard to recruit/hard to retain clinical professions for each full year they continue to work for the VA. You may be eligible to receive funding over five years to pay qualifying student loans. This program is not available in all VA facilities and is determined locally by each VA. Tuition reimbursement is not available for the dietetic profession in Houston. This is something you would need to ask VA sites when seeking employment.
Competitive program: It is not uncommon for students to be informed that our program is more competitive than others. The truth is that all programs are competitive and the number of qualified applications we receive varies widely from year to year. While we are seeking top-quality candidates, our selection committee places value on applicants who are well-rounded. Since you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, I encourage you to apply if you meet our eligibility criteria. We would love the opportunity to consider your application.
I hope you will carefully read the material posted on our website and take these points into consideration when making your decision of how to rank your program choices. Should you have any questions, or should you wish to schedule an appointment to come and visit the medical center, please do not hesitate to contact me at (713) 791-1414, extension 25290 or Kristy.Becker2@va.gov.
Kristy R. Becker, MS, RD, LD, FAND, VHA-CM
Director, Dietetic Internship Program