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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Next step: Dietetic Internship

Many miles from the last place I called Home, I have now fully installed myself in Memphis, and on the second full calendar week in October 2012, I began my 10-month (41 weeks, 1,436 hours) required Dietetic Internship at the Memphis Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). 

So…  a required Dietetic Internship venture?  In a nutshell, to become a Registered Dietitian, one must, at least:

  • complete a Bachelor’s of Science degree,
  • complete specific, relevant nutrition coursework at university, and
  • complete a minimum 1,200 hour dietetic internship at an accredited facility.
This last one is the trickiest…

Dietetic Internships are competitive, hectic, and coveted.  About 5,000 students per year apply for 2,500 positions through a centralized processing facility.  You prepare, upload, and send in your application materials (which take months to compile), choose the locations you wish to apply to, pay application fees and complete additional supplemental applications, then rank your order preferences of these selected facilities.  Every additional facility application = more application money, more forms.  This is very similar to the MD residency procedure.

The Memphis VAMC Class of 2013 Dietetic Interns
(Yes, I am wearing bright blue pants...SCRUBS, I have an excuse!)

Then you wait.  Wait about 2.5 months to see if you are one of the lucky ones to be “matched” to your rankings.  The facilities?  They also rank all of their applicants.  A great big computer algorithm then spits out the matches on “Match Day,” and every applicant crosses fingers and toes in hope. 

If you don’t get matched, it is on to re-applying… next year.  However, if you are a lucky one, you calm yourself down, pack up, move, and start the minimum 1,200 hour internship.  Some institutions DIs are longer, the Memphis VAMC DI is 1436 hours.  After completion, eligibility is granted to study your booty off before sitting for the Registered Dietitian exam.

Personally, I applied to 6 different facilities, ranked #1-6, and was MATCHED to my #2 choice in Memphis! (#1 choice? VAMC in St. Pete, FL)  Thanks to my Dad, his values, and his friends, Veterans have a very special place in my heart, and I applied to 3 VAMCs across the nation.  I was lucky enough to be matched to the Memphis VAMC internship program, which has a strong clinical care nutrition focus, as well as requisite rotations in community nutrition and large scale food preparation (in the hospital and in school systems).  Click here to see all of the rotations.  This internship is nearly 10 months long, and promises to be full of new experiences, sights, scenes, and learning adventures.

My Dad (right) & his lifelong best friend, Chuck,
both 'Nam vets, at the Vietnam Wall  (Washington DC, 1989)

(Picture taken in Durban, South Africa, just a few weeks before moving to Memphis.)

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