Monday, November 24, 2014

Healthy Cents: Saving Money on Food Away from Home

What is Healthy Cents?

Healthy Cents is a program designed to help participants save money while purchasing healthy food. Healthy Cents lessons focus on teaching seniors about making healthy and affordable food choices, reducing food expenses, developing a food spending plan, planning a meal, and saving money on healthy food shopping.

On several of our class days, we have had the opportunity to assist Phyllis in presenting these different nutrition education topics to seniors who are part of the Food Supplemental Nutrition Education (FSNE) Program in Baltimore. This past Monday, we taught the seniors about ways to save money when buying food away from home. Phyllis usually starts off the class with an activity or game to get the participants and interns interacting with one another... and this week was no different! We began the class by dividing into groups of 4 or 5 and were given a basket of cards describing a situation with a price. Working together as a group, we took turns reading the card aloud and discussed how to make less expensive choices in various situations. This activity was great way to practice choosing ways to save money on food as well as share our own experiences in similar situations. 

Following the activity, we tried a banana pudding that is affordable and easy to make at home. During the tasting, we discussed shopping strategies to save money when buying ingredients and ways to substitute other ingredients to change the recipe to your liking. This snack was delicious and everyone seemed to love it! Afterwards, we compared the cost of 4 food common food items at restaurants like McDonald’s and Wendy’s with the same meals prepared at home. I think this activity was eye-opening for everyone because you may end up saving $128 a month just by making these foods once a week rather than buying them!

These classes have been a very enjoyable and beneficial experience for me because I am given the opportunity to interact with an older population. Moreover, I am able to practice tailoring nutrition messages to people from low-income communities. It is so rewarding to see how enthusiastic and happy the seniors are to be there! I look forward to our next class day activity at Healthy Cents!

Monday, November 17, 2014

FSNE and Me: My Rotation with Food Supplement Nutrition Education

After spending most of the internship in a clinical setting, moving on to community was quite a shock! During this rotation, I spent time in the state office, attended the FSNE fall conference, and helped educators present a variety of classes in elementary schools. Although I learned a ton, here are the top four things I learned over the past two weeks.

1) What is FSNE?

Karen reading "Up, Down, and Around" to a class of 4th grade
students participating in the "Read for Health" program.
Before my rotation, I had no idea what FSNE was all about. FSNE, or Food Supplement Nutrition Education, provides nutrition education to those receiving SNAP benefits (previously known as food stamps). Educators provide lessons to all age groups in SNAP-eligible community agencies, from schools to senior centers. These programs encourage participants to make healthy and affordable choices by providing tips, resources, and "tastings." A "tasting" provides a sample of a recipe associated with the lesson and gives the participant a chance to try a healthy item before making it at home. 

2) Kids can get excited about fruits and vegetables!

Most of my time was spent in elementary schools around Baltimore. Educators utilized story books and holidays to emphasize the importance of fruits and vegetables. After each lesson, the kids were able to taste a themed recipe. This week, we made pumpkin parfaits with yogurt, pumpkin, and pumpkin spice.

3) Documentation and Evaluation

I was surprised to learn that educators and state employees alike complete tons of documentation! Each program has a different mechanism of evaluation and documentation, ranging from class demographics to statements from participants. Pre and post evaluations are often employed to determine what each person learned from the program. These evaluations allow the state office to prove that these programs are essential in this population and petition for additional funding.

Here I am encouraging a "Read for Heath" participant to try
a new vegetable!
4) Social Media and Community Nutrition Collides!

Social media is used extensively by FSNE to reach the SNAP eligible population. From Facebook posts to Youtube videos, FSNE finds a way to provide additional nutrition tips to the community. Utilizing social media allows nutrition education to continue after programs end and draws more participants in to sign up for other programs.

Overall, my experience with FSNE was an amazing experience. I was able to see all aspects of the program by networking with educators and those who work “behind the scenes” at the state office. Good luck to the interns who are moving on to this rotation this week!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What's in My Bag?

One thing I have learned from my time in undergrad as a dietetics major is the majority of us have type A personalities. We love to get assignments done as soon as we get them, we put time into picking out our day planner for the next year, and we have special colored pens for taking notes. We are super organized, and we love it! Leading up to the start of my dietetic internship, I had no idea what I would need for each rotation. I knew it would be different from college, but having been in school my whole life, I needed an adjustment period to figure out my new organization system. 

Here are my organizational essentials for a dietetic internship:  

1. Red Phyllis Folder

Provided by Phyllis, the internship director, on the first day of the internship. In this folder, I keep all the important papers together that need to be handed into Phyllis. It is a similar system to when you start kindergarten and have a take home folder for your parents to check every night.

2. Small Wallet/Clutch

Some days we travel to other locations during the day, and I am able to leave my bag at the rotation site. It is nice to have a wallet that can hold your phone and keys. This makes it easy to carry want you need without having to bring your whole bag. Of course, I had to have the Stella & Dot one that matches my larger bag.  

3. Black Folder with Notepad

This is my version of a professional binder. One side has a notepad and the other side has a folder. I carry it to the meetings with my preceptors, so I can write down the details of each assignment. I keep continuous to-do lists for each rotation on the notepad. 

4. Business Card Book

Given on the first day of the internship. Provides a new way of competing with your peers, seeing who has the most business cards at graduation.

5. Professional Bag

I put a lot of thought into what type of bag I wanted for the internship. I wanted a bag that looked professional, had a zipper, and could hold my laptop. I settled for this Stella & Dot bag. I like the pocket on the outside that securely holds my SmarTrip card; it holds the fare for riding public transportation in D.C., making it easier when getting on and off the Metro.

6. iPad Mini

Provided by the internship. Every good dietetic intern needs an apple in her bag.

7. Charger & Headphones

Obviously these are needed for the iPad Mini.

8. Emergency Kit
I feel you can never be too prepared. I keep Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, tissues, Advil, lotion, Chap Stick, and mints in a Kate Spade cosmetic bag.

9. Calculator

A calculator is needed for basic calculations in clinical rotations and on occasional class days. I love school supplies and everything Lilly Pulitzer, so I clearly needed the Lilly Pulitzer calculator. 

10. Journal

I realized after the first week of the internship I needed to write down what I did each day as a reference for filling in my competencies, updating my website, and completing my self-evaluations at the end of each rotation. Being from Annapolis, MD, I always pick out nautical-themed things, and when I saw this Jonathon Adler journal, I knew it would be perfect.

11. Day Planner

Picking out my day planner is something I take very seriously. This year I chose the large Kate Spade 17-month agenda. I selected this day planner because I think it looks more professional than the Lilly Pulitzer agendas, but don’t worry, I have had those too. I keep a Thank You card in the front pocket of my day planner, as a just in case.

12. Colored Pens

Like every good dietetics student, I use different color pens.

13. Flash Drive

On the first day of the internship, everyone is given a flash drive with everything you need throughout the entire internship. It contains contact information of the preceptors, directions to rotations, homework assignments, and evaluations. This little flash drive is the lifeline to the internship.

14. Pencil Case

I use a Vera Bradley pencil case to hold my calculator, flash drive, and pens. It is just an easy way to keep things from getting lost in your bag.

Hopefully, this post makes your transition from college to a dietetic internship 14 times easier.  

These are my personal opinions on what I need for the internship and do not reflect the opinions of the University of Maryland.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ready, Set, Go! Campus Dining in 3 Weeks

For your average dietetic intern, 3 weeks at any rotation site can fly by in a blink of an eye! Over the last 3 weeks my internship partner Rory and I ended our food service rotation with Campus Dining at the University of Maryland, College Park. Although this rotation only lasted for a few weeks, it was packed with valuable learning experiences.

In the Beginning…

During the beginning of our rotation, we were introduced to several key players on the Dining Services team, including Sister Maureen and the marketing team, to learn the logistics of running an operation with the size and scope as College Park.  We were also given the chance to interview and shadow other vital members of the team to learn and observe their responsibilities including:

·         A Morning with Mario- Rory and I spent a morning learning how to receive, put away, and order new food products for South Campus Dining Hall. With over 20 years of experience he made it look easy!

·         Money Sense with Lorraine- One afternoon we spent time with the associate director, Lorraine DiPrima. Lorraine taught us about the importance of keeping a balanced budget for any business. She even taught us how to create a budget from scratch!

·         Human Resources with Shirlene- During our conversation with Shirlene, assistant director, we learned the strategy of hiring the best people. The hiring process utilized at Campus Dining is detailed to ensure quality people are chosen to create the feeling of home for College Park students.

As we learned the roles and responsibilities of the different team members, we also worked on our rotation projects.  We had several to complete in just 3 short weeks. Time management was key as many of our days were stop and go.  Our projects included creating multiple table tents, nutrition articles, wellness walls for employees, creating a sustainability poster, and several others; all of which will be used as nutrition education tools to reach College Park students while in the dining halls. By working with the marketing team I learned how important the health and well-being of students is to the Campus Dining team. Every effort is made to make education tools easy to read with the latest nutrition information. Dining Services uses multiple resources to help foster healthy habits and lifestyle choices in the College Park student.

Let there be Lobster…

My partner and I were also able to help and volunteer at two special events hosted by Campus Dining.  The first, Lobster Fest, was super fun AND delicious! Students had the option of using their meal plan for a traditional, freshly steamed Maine Lobster dinner. We served students on the buffet line which never seemed to end! The lobsters were huge and came with all the fixings, which students loved. We even took a picture with the only lobster lucky enough to avoid the steamer!

We also had the chance to volunteer at a food drive, Campus Pantry, during homecoming week.  Campus Pantry is a new initiative by Campus Dining to help reach students and staff in need of food assistance. We helped at the kickoff event collecting food. Bins and signs were set up at several locations around the campus mall.

On the Last Day…

The last day of our rotation was the most tasteful! We presented our theme meal to the Dining Services team along with a presentation of final projects. With the help of Chef George, we created a beautiful fall meal consisting of fall starter salad of multicolored baby potatoes in a vanilla vinaigrette; roasted pork with cranberry walnut stuffing with a port wine demi glaze sauce; roasted acorn squash with pear, quinoa, and kale; roasted asparagus, parsnip, and carrot wrapped in bacon; and for dessert, apple crisp parfait. Our presentation went very well and our meal was amazing!

Finally, although our time at Campus Dining was short we had the most amazing experience! We learned a great deal of information regarding the day to day operations of a food service system servicing over 40,000 students and staff! As a dietetic inter your rotation does not have to be long or lengthy for you to have the opportunity to learn. Campus Dining at College Park is one example of how quality can trump quantity. Whether your rotation is 3 days, one week, or ten weeks, make the best of it! Your rotation is what you make it! 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Make Your Dreams Your Reality

On April 6th, 2014 my dream came true; I was accepted into a Dietetic Internship.  But let’s back track here quickly.  As I was applying to the internships I read a book that changed my life, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  I constantly reminded myself to stay positive during the waiting period.  I focused on the good and visualized myself in the University of Maryland Dietetic Internship program.  I highly suggest looking into the book or just accepting this train of thought for anyone who is going through the application process.  

While I was getting ready to make my move from New York down to Maryland, in light of a ton of nerves, excitement, and anticipation, I wrote down a few important goals to keep in mind.  Now that I’m about 10 weeks into the program, I still hold true to my goals and think of them each week.  I wanted to share them for anyone about to enter an internship, or any new adventure at any point in life. 

Take every possible opportunity.

This may sound cliché, but it is so true.  Take everything that comes your way.  What’s the worst that will happen?  Nothing I can think of.  Whether it’s a group workout class with the office or a health fair with no one you know, go for it and don’t stop there!  Grab dinner with your new internship (or work) friends and go to that extra event after work.  You’ll gain a new friend, a new experience, and so much more. 

Act like a sponge.

A dietetic internship is a unique time in life between undergraduate classes and work.  You are provided with the opportunity to meet and interact with so many different people.  Every person you meet has a story and something to teach.  Take advantage of this.  Write notes, capture mental memories, and absorb everything you possibly can.  Your director, the internship staff, and preceptors want to help you learn and watch you succeed.  Don’t forget that! 

Enjoy it all.

Whether you are in your hardest rotation, or simply a challenging time in life, there is always something positive to take out of every single situation.  Enjoy where you are right now in your life.  When you give off positive energy others will respond.  The internship will challenge you both intellectually as well as emotionally.  Whether it’s a 5:00am alarm or staying up late to finish homework, always remember that you are one step closer to your goal.  Enjoy it.  

Find time for yourself.

New beginnings can always create a sense of uneasy feelings or stress.  Make sure to create time for yourself.  Do something you enjoy; take a workout class, do a yoga video, cook a new meal, or simply sleep late on a Sunday.  But most importantly, take a second to be proud of yourself for starting this new adventure! 

Never stop seeking opportunities to capture your dream and never stop learning.  Set goals for yourself, talk with people you meet, stay positive, and always put your best foot forward.  Take a chance because who knows you may stumble upon the path to your dream. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top Five Tips and Tricks to Survive Your Clinical Rotation

Halloween is right around the corner and it doesn’t just mean candy and a toothache for me, but the end of my 10-week clinical rotation at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital. When I learned that my first rotation in the dietetic internship would be clinical, excitement wasn’t exactly the first thing that came to mind, but instead absolute PANIC. Don’t get me wrong, I live and breathe for the clinical setting, but learning that I would have no prep time for homework or become mentally prepared almost had me admitted as a patient. But I am here to tell you that with a few Chakra breathing techniques and my survival tips, you too will feel like a clinical superstar!

1. Strive for improvement, not perfection.
Obviously this is easier said than done and chances are you are a type A personality just like myself, but what you are not is a Registered Dietitian with 30 years of experience under your belt. This concept took awhile to sink in, but after 8 weeks I think I finally understand. There is a reason this is the longest rotation of them all, the information to learn is endless, but your time here is not. As a dietetic intern, many of us believe that when we leave here we need to know everything ever written by ASPEN or in the nutrition care manual to be successful, but this all comes with time. Take a deep breath - it will all be okay.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
While in your clinical rotation any time you’re not seeing patients, scribbling down every little thing the dietitian is doing, completing homework, or burying your head in a textbook, you will be most likely trying to make sense of every little thing you have learned and still have questions. We are the nutrition experts we should want to know as much as possible to do the best job we can, but that doesn’t mean we will know everything. So much of why we complete such an extensive clinical rotation is because we couldn’t possibly learn everything we need to know from a textbook – practicing is learning too! Just when I think I’ve got diabetes education down to a science, some loop hole exception never mentioned in my textbook applies, but hey now I know next time.

3. Be proactive!
Since day one of my internship the phrase, “this is a 10-month interview” has been engrained in my brain. For the past 8 weeks, I have had the opportunity to work with three amazing dietitians who have taught me so much and gone out of the way to answer any questions I have, the least I can do is offer to help them with any additional work big or small. Not only have I worked on my clinical skills with patients, but also I have had the opportunity to work with the wellness guru herself and assist in superfood sampling and food demos – did anyone say fabulous free food?

      4.  Do NOT procrastinate.
I repeat, do NOT procrastinate! Did you get that? Your clinical rotation specifically requires a lot of brain power and focus in and out of the hospital and keeping up with weekly assignments is a must. You’re probably thinking 10 weeks? Pshh plenty of time to do my weekly homework assignments, quizzes, case studies, and any other projects I may have going on – think again. This isn’t college where you have endless breaks and can rush an assignment before class, planning is key and procrastination will only lead to increased stressed, sleepless nights, and tired eyes. Simple enough, do it right and on time, you won’t regret it.

      5. Have Fun!
Okay, okay, enough of the fearful messages, remember to have fun! As nervous as I was for my clinical rotation, I could not have been more excited to be working in a hospital and acting as am ‘almost’ Registered Dietitian. I have met so many wonderful people from patients to dietitians to kitchen staff, I am so thankful to have had such an amazing experience and am sad to go.

At the end of the day you are here to learn and complete the next stepping stone in becoming  Registered Dietitian. Life is scary as it is, your clinical rotation doesn’t have to be!