Dietetic Internship Program
VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System
Thank you for your interest in the VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System (VASNHCS) Dietetic Internship. Our Dietetic Internship Program is 31 weeks (1240 hours) and includes hands-on supervised practice rotations in clinical nutrition, clinical and food service management, community and specialty areas, with a program concentration in Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT). Our interns learn the necessary skills and confidence to become competent entry-level dietitians and future leaders in the field of dietetics.
The VASNHCS operates approximately 150 beds, including critical care, medical, surgical, extended care, rehab, dementia care, and in-patient mental health units, along with local and community-based outpatient clinics, and home-based primary care services.
The curriculum is based on the 2022 Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) Eligibility Requirements and Accreditation Standards for entry level dietitians; the mission, philosophy, goals and objectives of the program and requisite skills and knowledge necessary for entry level dietetic practice. The professional staff of the VASNHCS Nutrition and Food Service Department actively participate in the development and administration of the Dietetic Internship program and serve as program preceptors. Registered Dietitian staff are highly trained and experienced to meet the requirements of being preceptors, participate in curriculum development in their specialty areas, and receiving ongoing evaluation to ensure rigorous program expectations are met. During the internship, our highly skilled healthcare team of physicians, nurse managers and practitioners, clinic specialists, therapists, and pharmacists of the various specialties and care areas provide advice and information that is incorporated into the training experience. Affiliate locations for specialty rotations are screened, selected, and receive ongoing evaluation to ensure program expectations and learning experiences are achieved and maintained. Staff at those affiliates are preceptors for the rotations they supervise and assist in curriculum development for those rotations.
The curriculum is divided into three major areas: clinical, management, and community and specialty areas.
- Clinical Experience
The clinical experience is divided to include rotations to give the interns broad based, in-depth experiences in clinical care. In addition to general clinical rotation, interns will rotate through specialty areas, which include nutrition support, general medical and surgery, Ambulatory Care clinics, geriatric, rehab and psychiatry for the concentration in Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT). As the intern progresses in the program, more responsibility and increased patient assignments and learning experiences will be planned. During staff relief, interns will be expected to assume full responsibility for the area assigned.
The management experiences are divided into clinical and food service systems management, designed to give the intern experience in both clinical and food service management and leadership situations. In depth experience involving food service inventory, production, and delivery systems, clinical and food service staff supervision and training, professional communication and presentation skills, and financial management are incorporated into our rotations.
- Community and Specialty Areas
The community nutrition rotation is planned to give the intern experiences in applying the principles of nutrition to various groups of people in the community environment. Rotations could include experiences with various community programs such as community agencies, area schools, and/or private practice (affiliate rotations TBD).
The curriculum of the SNVAHCS dietetic internship provides learning opportunities to develop hands-on, real-world skills to gain the confidence and knowledge to become entry-level dietitians. Our interns actively participate as part of interdisciplinary healthcare teams, attend professional meetings, present professional case studies and in-services to staff, calculate and manage enteral and parenteral feedings, develop and deliver group classes, build and refine counseling and education skills, supervise staff in a food service setting, participate in research, and complete administrative and management functions like conducting quality assurance or process improvement. These experiences prepare graduates for success in entry-level clinical, administrative and supervisory positions in a variety of areas such as: clinical nutrition, wellness, marketing/sales, long-term care, weight management, foodservice, and community nutrition.
Why choose the VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System Dietetic Internship?
- There's NO FEE to attend or apply to our program - In fact, interns may receive a stipend, paid bi-weekly, through the course of the internship!
- Individualized Attention from Preceptors - We have a dedicated staff of highly qualified dietitians and small class sizes of 2-6 means that you will get specialized, individualized attention. In most rotations, only one intern is assigned to a preceptor at a time, allowing for maximum attention to your learning experience.
- Hands-on supervised practice – interns gain the skills and confidence to be entry-level dietitians because our program provides hands-on real-world experience.
- Professional Respect and Enhanced Scope of Practice – VA dietitians typically enjoy a wider range of ordering privileges than their private-sector peers leading to more efficient patient care and better nutrition outcomes.
- Team Approach to Patient Care - dietitians and interns serve as the nutrition expert on interdisciplinary teams. At the VA, physicians and healthcare staff are receptive to questions and your recommendations are usually implemented.
- Electronic Medical Records- easy access your patient's medical record from your desk. No waiting for paper charts!
- Intern Workspaces with personal desks, and computers with high speed internet access - each intern gets their own desk.
- VAMC Career Opportunities- VA is one of the largest employers of dietitians, with locations across the country, and offers highly competitive salary and benefits packages. We love to hire our interns and program graduates!
- Location – Downtown Reno is just 30 min from Mt. Rose and Lake Tahoe for year-round outdoor recreation.
- Curriculum: The program is hospital based with rotations in all areas of medicine, surgery and specialty care. These rotations are supplemented with experiences in the community such as WIC, Eating Disorders, School Food service, Public health clinics and more.
- Jobs: We will assist you in finding employment in the government or private sector. With more than 100 VA Medical Centers across the country, you will have increased opportunities to work for the VA.
- Stipend: Interns in our program receive a stipend, which is paid throughout the course of the internship.
Please take all this information into consideration when you are making your decision on how to rank your program choices. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the Internship Director, Lauren Kester, at 775-786-7200 ext. 4609.
Virtual Open House Information
We are pleased to provide you with the opportunity to learn more about our Dietetic Internship Program. Open house attendees will be given a detailed program overview and have a chance to meet the preceptors, graduates of the program, and current interns.
When: Friday, January 19th from 10:00am to 12:00pm PST
Please RSVP to Lauren Kester at Lauren.Kester@va.gov to receive the link for the virtual open house.
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 didactic program in Dietetics), completion of an ACEND accredited supervised practice program and confirmation of academic and practice requirements by verification. Verification of academic and didactic requirements is necessary for entry in the SNVAHCS Dietetic Internship. Completion of the internship allows the student to meet the second requirement of CDR (completion of an ACEND accredited supervised practice program). Graduates of the internship are eligible to take the Registration Exam for Dietitians upon successful completion of the program. Attainment of the RDN credential also establishes eligibility for certification and/or licensure at the state level. In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. For more information about state licensure requirements click here.
Internship program completion includes:
- Intern completes 31 weeks (1240 hours) of supervised practical experience with 10.5 months (150% of the program length).
- Intern completes all assignments and projects by established guidelines.
- Satisfactorily completes the requirements for each rotation.
- Completes staff relief experience with an overall satisfactory performance rating based on established criteria.
- Attends all workshops and seminars scheduled during the year.
Dietetic interns will be eligible for the Registration Examination for dietitians after receiving a verification statement of successful completion of the internship from the program director. Eligible candidates are submitted through REPS (Registration Eligibility Processing System) to CDR within one week of graduation. Intern graduates are responsible for submitting their demographic information online prior to graduation. Candidates will receive authorization to take the exam shortly thereafter.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 dietitian nutritionist (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 click here.
- For more information about educational pathways to become a RDN click here.
VA Sierra Nevada HCS has been granted candidacy accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®) to open an ACEND accredited Dietetics Internship to prepare Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in Fall 2022.
For more information about the ACEND accreditation standards click here.
Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995