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WIC Nutrition - Dietetic Internship - FAQ

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The Texas WIC Dietetic Internship (TX WIC DI) is designed to assist qualified nutritionists employed within the Texas WIC program, either by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) or WIC local agencies, to become registered dietitians.

FAQ2

Questions and Answers Regarding
Texas WIC Dietetic Internship (DI) — 2014

1.       Why does Texas WIC have a dietetic internship?

The mission of the Texas WIC Dietetic Internship is to prepare competent entry-level dietitians to enhance the quality of nutrition services delivered to WIC clients and their communities. 

 

2.       Will the WIC State Agency provide financial assistance to WIC local agencies if they have an applicant selected for an internship?

Yes.  While the nutritionist participates in the internship program, his or her salary continues to be a WIC allowable cost which can be billed through regular WIC funding.

 In addition, the State Agency will supplement the local agency’s regular WIC funding by providing extra special funding  equal to approximately 90% of the intern’s salary and benefits for the 8 months that he/she is participating in the internship, and an additional small sum ( varies each year)  to help defray other costs (travel, supplies etc.) for the intern. If the intern has to take leave without pay to participate in the internship, the state agency will not provide this additional financial assistance. This extra financial assistance is provided to the WIC local agencies so they may hire temporary staff to help cover the clinics while their employee is participating in the internship or to help pay for the costs of the intern while he or she is participating in the internship.

 

3.       How many interns can be selected for each class?  

The internship can select up to twelve interns per year. 

 

4.       Is there a minimum number of years required working for WIC before a nutritionist can apply?

Any nutritionist currently working for a WIC local agency or WIC State Agency and ahs worked for WIC for at least 6 months is eligible to apply.  A WIC local agency may have its own policy about the minimum time the nutritionist has to be employed by the local agency before supporting the application.

 

5.       Is a nutritionist in a part-time position or a temporary position eligible to apply?

A WIC nutritionist in a part-time position is eligible to apply.  A WIC nutritionist in a temporary position will have to check with their local agency/DSHS employer regarding their employment situation.  If the local agency or DSHS can not assure that the employee will remain employed during the internship as well as the 2 years after taking the registration examination for dietitians, then the nutritionist will not be eligible to apply.

 

  1. Will more than one nutritionist from each local agency be able to apply?

The Texas WIC Internship will accept more than one application from the same local agency.  The local WIC agency director/DSHS Unit Manager may not be able to allow more than one nutritionist to participate in the internship each year.

 

7.       Are DSHS Region and State Agency nutritionists eligible to apply for the Texas WIC Dietetic Internship?  

If the nutritionist is funded on a WIC budget, then a DSHS nutritionist who works in a DSHS region or DSHS Central Office is eligible to apply as long as they meet the other admission criteria.

 

8.       Will preference be given to local agencies that lack registered dietitians (RDs)?

Lack of RDs in a WIC local agency is taken into consideration.  However, this should not discourage WIC local agency directors who employ RDs from encouraging their nutritionists to apply for the Texas WIC DI.  Although a WIC local agency may have one or more RDs on staff, there may be a need for additional RDs because of the large number of clinics that still may be left un-served by an RD.

 

9.       What are the selection criteria?

          All parts of the application are important, including:

  • Grade Point average - following completion of the internship, the intern must pass the registration exam in order to become a registered dietitian.  Dietetic internship programs are evaluated by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ credentialing agency (ACEND) based on the percentage of interns who pass this exam on the first try.  That is why it is critical that interns have demonstrated academic abilities.  Dietetic internship programs can be put on probation or even discontinued if this pass rate is not acceptable.  College GPA is the best indicator of the intern’s ability to pass the registration exam.
  • Recommendation letters – the letters that co-workers, supervisor and professors write are extremely important in the application process.  We require a recommendation letter from the applicant’s supervisor and highly recommend one from a college instructor.  Three recommendation letters are required for each applicant.
  • Need of the community –Underserved areas of the state are given a high priority during the selection process.  Local agencies that have difficulty finding RDs are also given priority.  Being bilingual is also seen as an asset during the selection process.
  • Local agency and geographic diversity within the class.  An attempt is made to select interns each class from diverse areas of the state.
  • Facility availability – Ability finding facilities and preceptors factors into the selection process.
  • Application Completeness  and professionalism
  • Other considerations – writing ability, maturity, motivation, career goals and other qualities all are important considerations in the application process.

 

10.     What is a DPD verification statement and where do you get one?

A Didactic Program in Dietetic (DPD) Verification form is the method used by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to ensure that the required academic preparation has been obtained by the individual.  This form must  be submitted as part of the application.  As part of the Dietetic Internship Centralized Application System ( DICAS) you will asked to provide your DPD Director’s email address. DICAS will request the DPD verification statement. Many professors are not working during the summer months, and students who wait until late May or June to ask for verification statement may not be able to get one before the application deadline.  Your application will not be reviewed without this verification statement.  

To obtain a hard copy of your DPD Verification Statement, contact the DPD Director of the University where you received your degree.  If you do not know how to contact the DPD director of your university, please refer to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

 

11.     Can a nutritionist apply for the Texas WIC DI if they have a Plan IV Verification Statement from an undergraduate program in dietetics?

No.  Dietetic internships can only enroll individuals with a verification statement indicating completion of a Didactic Program in Dietetics.  Individuals who have completed Plan IV and wish to become Registered Dietitians should contact a university with a Didactic Program in Dietetics and have their transcripts reviewed.  The Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics will determine what academic coursework that individual will need to obtain a DPD verification statement.  A nutritionist may try contacting the university he/she graduated from or a nearby university.  A complete list of universities with Didactic Programs in Dietetics may be found at the website www.eatright.org.

 

12.     Who is on the selection committee?

All of the applications will be screened and reviewed by an internship selection

committee including:                                                                                               

  • Director, Texas WIC Dietetic Internship
  • Texas WIC DI Coordinators
  • Manager, Nutrition Education/Clinic Services Unit
  • other state agency staff or internship partners may be asked to participate

13.     Will an interview be required of the applicants?

Telephone interviews may be conducted with applicants at the discretion of the selection committee.

 

14.     Can a WIC nutritionist who has not yet completed all of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics-approved Didactics Program in Dietetics courses apply?

Students currently enrolled in classes must submit a "Declaration of Intent" listing courses in progress. Successful applicants must supply signed verification statements and final transcripts to Texas WIC DI prior to the start of the internship.

DICAS provides for your DPD director to login and submit the verification statement of declaration of intent statement. Please verify with your DPD director that they have done so.

 

15.     Can interns complete their supervised learning experiences in their own communities?

Not necessarily. When possible, supervised practice sites will be utilized in the area of the state where the intern is employed.  There is no guarantee that the intern will be placed in his/her home community. Most of the community nutrition supervised learning experiences can be accomplished in the intern’s community if there is a willing RD preceptor.  If there is not an RD in the intern’s LA, then a nearby LA with a willing RD may be sought.  There will be approximately 7 – 10 weeks that the interns will be in Austin for seminars, supervised experiences and the major project presentations and graduation.

           

16.      What is the expected role of the WIC preceptor?

The WIC preceptor will assist the intern in scheduling all supervised experiences and assignments within the WIC local agency and other community sites.  The WIC preceptor must review community assignments and complete evaluation forms for the intern indicating whether or not he/she met the expected competencies for the community portion of the supervised learning experiences.  The WIC preceptor does not have to be present at all times with the intern, but should be present at regular intervals in order to be able to evaluate the intern’s performance.  The WIC preceptor will also be asked to give feedback to the dietetic internship director in order to improve the quality of the internship.

 

17.      Is there a minimum GPA and/or DPD GPA requirement?

No, but preference will be given to applicants with a cumulative GPA and a DPD GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale.

 

18.     What can an applicant do if their undergraduate GPA and/or DPD GPA are less than 3.0?

The applicant should consider taking upper-level undergraduate or graduate courses in advanced nutrition and nutrition therapy.

 

19.     Is participation in the internship an allowable WIC cost?

Yes, USDA has stated in a policy memorandum that federal WIC funds can be used

to support the development and operation of a dietetic internship that is approved / accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Texas WIC Dietetic Interns will charge their time to WIC Nutrition Education, if they are receiving a salary while participating in the internship.  Other expenses that the WIC local agency may pay the costs for include professional textbooks and travel to internship facilities.

 

20.     Is the Texas WIC Dietetic Internship approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics?

Yes, the Texas WIC DI is currently granted initial accreditation by the Accreditation council or Education in Nutrition and Dietetics(ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 S. Riverside Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606, (312) 899-0040, extension 5400.

 

 

21.     If a WIC local agency does not pay the intern’s salary during the time he/she is participating in the internship, is the intern still expected to sign a Letter of Agreement with the WIC local agency specifying a work obligation and financial payback if failing to complete the work obligation?

Yes.  The intern is still receiving substantial benefits by participating in the Texas WIC DI even if he/she has to take leave without pay.  Most dietetic internships have significant tuition costs and few internships allow the intern to remain employed while completing an internship.  Although each local agency can specify the terms of the contract (Letter of Agreement) with his/her employee, we have listed recommendations in the Prospective Student Brochure.  The intern’s salary is just a portion of the total costs of administering the Texas WIC DI.  Because there is a significant financial investment that WIC State Agency is making with the internship, a good return on the investment is expected, e.g., registered dietitians providing high-risk nutrition counseling services in local agencies that previously had few or no RDs on staff.  For a sample Letter of Agreement, please contact the Texas WIC DI Director.  The DI Director can also provide a list of WIC local agencies that have had an intern in the DSHS DI in past years.  These WIC Directors may be able to answer administrative questions that are common to other WIC local agencies.

 

  1. Can an applicant apply more than one time to the Texas WIC DI?

Yes

 

23.     Once an applicant is accepted into the Texas WIC DI, is there any preparation before the internship begins?

Yes, there is a substantial time commitment for the intern between September 2013 and when the internship begins in January 2014.  Many assignments and case studies are required during this time period.  Many former interns report that they spend 10-20 hours each week researching and completing these assignments.  Interns are expected to satisfactorily complete all these assignments during this time period, and can be dismissed from the internship for poor performance on these assignments.

 

24.     How should letters of recommendation and official transcripts be submitted with the application?

Yes, these are part of DICAS.

 

25. Do I need to find my own facilities and preceptors?

No, you do not need to find your preceptors. However, when you know for sure that you are going to apply ( and have your WIC Director’s approval)  to the Texas WIC Dietetic Internship, please email mary.vaneck@dshs.state.tx.us or call her at 512-341-4510 to inform her that you are planning on applying. In many areas of the state, established relationships already exist for facilities, but for others, we will need to find new facilities and preceptors.

 

26. Do I get any credit for my WIC experience?

Yes, you are given a minimum of 120 prior learning hours for your WIC experience.

 

26. Still have questions?

E-mail or call Mary Van Eck at mary.vaneck@dshs.state.tx.us or 512-341-4510 or 512-413-7320.

 
 

 

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Last updated August 21, 2013