Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fashion Forward: Dressing for Success, The Dietetic Intern Way

           It is already week 7 of my rotations, and it feels like I started the program yesterday. Man, does time fly! I just completed my 5 week rotation at USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP).  I enjoyed my time at CNPP working with Registered Dietitians, and other health professionals who are behind the scenes of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, ChooseMyPlate and SuperTracker just to name a few. CNPP’s mission is to improve the health of Americans by advancing and promoting food and nutrition guidance for all Americans, assessing diet quality, and advancing consumer, nutrition, and food economic knowledge. I have strengthened so many skills through numerous projects and tasks, which has been valuable. I can't wait to use these skills in many rotations to come.  A big thank you to my preceptors and the entire CNPP Office of Nutrition Marketing and Communications team for making this rotation worthwhile!

            This week I started my rotation at the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in DC, a non-profit organization which is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, nutrition and food safety for the public good. I look forward to expanding my knowledge in nutrition informatics and research, as well as networking with many nutrition professionals in this rotation, wish me luck!

               Apart from my dietetic internship experiences so far, one thing I find very important is appearance. In undergrad, the dress code wasn’t business casual, it was pretty much “wear whatever you feel like wearing”. In my Junior and Senior year of college, I started to purchase professional clothes, so that transitioning to the real world wouldn’t be such a pain. Most rotations in the Internship will require a “business casual” dress code. As an intern representing the University of Maryland, it is very important to dress professional when asked to because it affects how others perceive you and the program itself. If your clothes are clean, neat, and professional, it shows that you are confident in your abilities, and also makes you feel confident. Before every rotation, make sure to check the facilities dress policy before the start date. When in doubt, ask!

                   Here are some things I keep in mind when dressing up for my rotations... from top, to bottom:

1.     Hair: Always keep hair clean. In clinical or food service management rotations, be sure to keep it away from the patient’s food (Wear hair nets, put hair in ponytail or bun).

2.     Jewelry: Wear little to no jewelry- keep it to a minimum (studs, a bracelet, small necklace).

3.     Tops: Select blouses, collared shirts, cardigans, button downs and camisoles with cardigans or blazers, and sweaters. 

My Internship partner Kelda, is wearing a crème blouse with a grey pencil skirt & a black cardigan.
4.     Bottoms: Choose skirts that are no more than 2" above the knee, slacks and nice dress pants.

Me, wearing a white button down shirt, with a black & grey stripped skirt, and nude & black 2" heels; holding a Tommy Hilfiger bag.
5.     Dresses: Shop for business dresses that are no more than 2” above the knee.

6.     Suits: Wear pant suits or skirt suits.

7.     Nylons: Search for pantyhose or tights that match your skin tone.

8.     Shoes: When shopping select comfortable flats, heels that are no more than 2" high,  or knee length dress boots with heels no more 2".   

Me, ready to take on my IFIC rotation in DC wearing my Charming Charlie bracelet & Steve Madden nude & black heels.

9.     Lab coats: Keep lab coats clean, white, and wrinkle-free for clinicals, and other rotations when appropriate.

10.  Perfumes: Many people have fragrance sensitivity. Reduce the use of strong scented perfumes.

Here are some stores to find professional clothes: Thrift Stores, Target, Nordstrom, Gap, Ross, Macy’s, J. Crew, Forever 21, H&M, Old Navy, Khols.

             Appearance is key! You don't need to go shopping for a new wardrobe. Just mix and match your clothes, and you will be fine. Stick to neutral colors or dark colors such as navy blue, grey and black. Boost your confidence levels in your rotations by dressing for success. When you look good, you feel good! Remember, someone is always watching you. Happy Fall :)

To keep up to date with my Internship experiences, follow my Twitter account:

Twitter: @ValerieAgyeman

University of Maryland, College Park Dietetic Internship twitter account: @UMD_DietIntern

Monday, September 21, 2015

Welcome Class of 2015-2016

Please welcome our 2015-2016 class of dietetic interns!  Our interns have been in the program for about a month now and have already had some great experiences!

To learn more about our interns, visit the Meet the Current Class on our website and stay tuned to hear about their year as a University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Intern!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Congratulations Class of 2014-2015

The University of Maryland Dietetic Internship held their graduation of their 10 interns on Friday, June 19th.   Prior to graduation, 2 interns had already accepted jobs!  We wish the class of 2015-2016 in their future careers as RD's! 

The graduation speaker this year was Angela Leone, a 2009-2010 program graduate and  senior nutritionist at the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.  Thanks to Angela for speaking at graduation.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ State Dinner

During my 5-week rotation at the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), my internship partner Megan and I had the unique and exciting opportunity to participate in the Healthy Lunch Time Challenge (HLC). The HLC and Kids’ State Dinner is a competition that promotes cooking and healthy eating among kids and their families across America. Kids between the ages of 8-12 years old were invited to submit an original, healthy recipe that followed MyPlate nutritional guidelines. Our role in this challenge was to help narrow down contestants' chosen for the final judging, and to assist in the final taste testing of the recipes.

Criteria used to determine contest winners included:
  • Nutritional value
  • Taste 
  • Creativity 
  • Originality 
  • Affordability 
  • An essay accompanying the recipe

Tanya Steel, CEO of Cooking up Big Dreams and Kids’ New World and creator of the HLC, taste-testing a Finalist dish 
Megan and I narrowed down hundreds of contestant entries, leaving two finalists from each of the 50 U.S. states and territories. We were then invited to attend the first round of judging at the DC Convention Center with our wonderful directors at CNPP, Jackie Haven and Shelley Maniscalco. For the fourth year in a row, D.C. Central Kitchen’s (DCCK) were chosen to cook, assemble, and plate 108 dishes, all within a 3-hour judging period. Dishes were rated on a scale of 1-5 using each of the criteria listed above. One winner from each state has been chosen to attend the Kids’ State Dinner hosted by Michelle Obama at the White House this summer. 

DCCK staff
It was beneficial for us to get a taste—pun intended, of what children across America are eating. We were impressed with the amount of thought that went into these recipes and that many of the children were able to incorporate all five food groups into their dish. The experience allowed us to visualize and brainstorm new ways in which we as future RD’s can influence trends and eating patterns of the youth in our country. Having the opportunity to observe a strong leader like Steel manage a large-scale event, revolved around food, was both empowering and inspiring. Steel commented that the contest has come a long way since the first year and has overcome many barriers, enabling it to run seamlessly. 

Megan and I took away many positive memories and learned lessons from our time participating in the contest. Most importantly was the impression and influence left on the kids that will hopefully help build a foundation for healthy eating habits for years to come. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Renal Rotation

The renal rotation at Independent Dialysis Foundation (IDF), a University of Maryland affiliate, is a more relaxed version of the clinical rotation. There are fewer patients to see and only one disease state to focus on. It is easier to communicate with the physicians and nurses when the staff is smaller and there everyday.

Best Aspects of Working as a Registered Dietitian in Outpatient Dialysis:

1. Build relationships

The patients need to come for dialysis three days a week, and treatment is typically three hours long, allowing for a lot of time to sit and talk with the patient. One day, I had the opportunity to discuss low potassium foods for one hour with a patient who was very interested in learning how to lower his potassium levels. The patients knew all of the employees so when they saw me, they immediately wanted to know who I was and what I was doing.  

2. Focus on one disease state

The registered dietitian discussed labs related to end stage kidney disease, medications, and special diet requirements. All three of these items play a role with one another, and it is unique to renal dietitians to be able to discuss all three with the patient and have the physician in complete agreement. This allows for a conclusive picture of what the patient needs.      

3. See the success of patients

While I was at IDF, a patient who received a kidney transplant and was now off dialysis came into the office to visit the staff. Everyone was so happy to see him. He shared his experience with the kidney transplant and how his quality of life had improved now that he no longer needs dialysis three times a week. Experiencing this makes for a very rewarding day.    

During my renal rotation I experienced a great deal in three days. I provided nutrition education to a variety of patients, explained lab values, and medications to patients. I wrote chart notes for new admissions and quarterly reports. I posted a bulletin board on fluid intake in the lobby and arranged spice samples for patients to take home. This experience sparked my interest in becoming an outpatient registered dietitian and I am very thankful to the dietitian who let me work with her.   

Bulletin Board on Fluid Intake

Spice Samples