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Dietetic Internship Program

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VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the steps to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)? 

2. How are interns selected, and what other criteria are you looking for in an ideal applicant?

3. If I don't get accepted into the Combined Program Track, can I still be considered for the Non-Degree Program Track?

4. If I am accepted into the VAGLA DI, where should I live?

5. Will I need a car to be a VAGLA Dietetic Intern? 

6. Why are there floating breaks in the Non-Degree Program?

7. If I'm already enrolled in a master's program at CSULB or CSUN, can I still apply to the Combined MS Optional Program Track?

8. I read that the Covid-19 vaccination is required for your program. Are exceptions to this rule granted? 

1. What are the steps required to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)? 

The steps for becoming a RDN include:
  1. Completing a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a United States regionally accredited university or college or foreign equivalent, and coursework through an ACEND-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) or Coordinated Program (CP) in Dietetics.
  2. Completing at least 1000 hours of supervised practice through an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship (such as the VAGLAHS DI), CP in Dietetics or an Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP) offered through an ACEND-accredited program.
  3. Passing a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). 
  4. Obtaining licensure (if the state in which you will be working requires licensure; California does not)

Applicants to the dietetic internship program must have completed a DPD and at least a bachelor's degree (step 1) before entry into the VAGLAHS DI program.  The VAGLAHS DI provides the supervised practice (step 2) for becoming a RDN. Graduates of our program are eligible to sit for the CDR Registration Examination for Dietitians, the third step required for becoming a RDN.  

Effective January 1, 2024, the CDR will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a RDN. In order to be approved for registration examination eligibility with a bachelor’s degree, an individual must meet all eligibility requirements and be submitted into CDR's Registration Eligibility Processing System (REPS) before 12:00 midnight Central Time, December 31, 2023. For more information about this requirement visit CDR's website: In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised practice in program(s) accredited by the ACEND. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited VAGLAHS DI are eligible to apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN.

In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements click here.

For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN click here.

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2. How are interns selected, and what other criteria are you looking for in an ideal applicant?

A selection committee at VAGLAHS will review and rank applications. Top applicants will be selected to interview.  The Dietetic Internship Director will be in communication with selection committees for UCLA School of Public Health, CSULB Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and CSUN Department of Family and Consumer Sciences to coordinate ranking for the Combined Masters Program Tracks. Applicants must meet selection criteria for both the university and VAGLA in order to be considered for the Combined Masters Program tracks. Notification of admission to the university may occur prior to notification of computer matching results; however, it is not a guarantee of being matched to the Combined Masters Program.

An interview before the selection committee is required. You are encouraged to be available for a personal interview; however, telephone interviews will be conducted for students unable to attend in person.

The selection criteria are as follows:

  • Academic Achievement
  • Content of Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Work Experience, both paid and volunteer
  • Leadership in Campus, Community
  • Professional Activities
  • Awards and Honors
  • Interview Performance
  • Recent Education (if applicable)

Therefore, maximizing your application packet in the above mentioned areas is the best way to prepare for applying.

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3. If I don't get accepted into the university for the Combined Master's Program Track, can I still be considered for the Non-Degree Program track?

Not unless you also applied for the Non-Degree Program Track AND you will have earned a Masters Degree by the program start date (or by the end date as approved by the DI Director).  We can only consider your application for the program track(s) you applied to. If you want to be considered for multiple program tracks, you must apply to each program track separately.

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4. If I am accepted into the VAGLAHS DI, where should I live?

The West Los Angeles campus is the primary location for supervised practice rotations. Interns also may be assigned to rotations downtown at the Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center (15 miles east of the West LA campus) and the Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center in the San Fernando Valley (15 miles North of the West LA campus) in addition to affiliated sites. Recommended areas to look for housing would include: Brentwood, Westwood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Mar Vista, Palms, and the San Fernando Valley (Sherman Oaks, Encino, Van Nuys, Reseda, Tarzana).

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5. Will I need a car to be a VAGLAHS Dietetic Intern?

A car is recommended, but not required. Rotations can occur at any VA Greater Los Angeles location as well as at affiliations within the Greater Los Angeles area. In addition, interns attend classes provided by the Greater Los Angeles Dietetic Internship Consortium and locations are spread throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. Significant commuting is part of the program and reliable transportation is recommended.

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6. Why are there floating breaks in the Non-Degree Program track?

Incorporating floating days off in the Non-Degree Program Track allowed for more scheduling flexibility to accommodate our current class size. Two weeks of break are fixed at the end of the calendar year where interns can make vacation plans. The other 16 days are floating and are used to accommodate scheduling problems arising from staffing shortages, maternity leave, jury duty, and etc. Without including these floating breaks, we faced permanently reducing the total number of interns per class.

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7. If I'm already enrolled in a master's program at CSULB or CSUN, can I still apply to the Combined MS Optional Program Track?

Interns in the Combined MS Optional track are required to be enrolled full-time at the university for the first year of the program.  The second year of the program, they are completing supervised practice rotations while completing university requirements for the master's degree and are only required to be enrolled part-time. If you are just getting started with your master's degree coursework and can meet the above enrollment requirements, enrolled full-time for the first year and part-time for the second year, then you can be considered for the Combined MS Optional Program track. If you have completed more coursework and cannot meet the above enrollment requirements, the Combined MS track is not appropriate for you.

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8. I read that the Covid-19 vaccination is required for your program. Are exceptions to this rule granted? 

Currently, the policy of the VAGLAHS is that any VHA employee (including Health Professions Trainees, i.e. Dietetic Interns) or volunteer who works in VHA facilities, visits VHA facilities, or provides direct care to those we serve is required to be fully vaccinated. Exceptions are approved on a case-by-case basis, and those with exceptions must comply with workplace safety protocols (i.e. appropriate masking and testing). Exceptions related to a medical condition or a religious belief are processed as a request for reasonable accommodation to the vaccination requirement.

Exceptions cannot be reviewed or approved prior to the onboarding process. HR does not address vaccine status with employees until they are offered employment, which would be after matching occurs.  There is no way to get any exemption approved in advance, and there is no way to predict if exemptions will ultimately be honored at the time of employment.

In addition to VA policies, VAGLAHS is subject to federal laws and executive orders, which means policies are frequently evolving. Students applying for our internship program who have not received the Covid-19 vaccination cannot be guaranteed that they will be able to complete their internship at the VA without receiving the vaccination. At any point, including after matching, after onboarding, or even after the internship has started, vaccination requirements may change and the intern may no longer be able to complete supervised practice rotations at the VA if they are not vaccinated.
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