Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Theme Meal Troubleshooting

Almost all dietetic internships require the interns to complete a theme meal. At the University of Maryland dietetic internship, the theme meal takes place at a retirement home. The foodservice rotation requires the daunting task of the interns to create a theme meal for 200 people.

The requirements of the meal included:
  • Soup
  • Salad
  • Two Vegetable Side Dishes
  • Two Starch Side Dishes
  • Beef Entrée
  • Chicken Entrée
  • Fish Entrée
  • Vegetarian Entrée
  • Two Desserts
  • Beverage


The week leading into the theme meal was spent entirely in the kitchen. Prior to that we researched our theme, tested recipes, made flyers, talked to residents to promote the event and even filmed a commercial. Considering we are organized individuals who like to have everything planned out, we created a schedule for the week outlining the steps to complete each recipe. Even with all the planning and preparation the weeks leading up to the event, there were challenges we could not prepare for.

Time Management
One of our biggest challenges was not accurately determining how long each task would take. For example, writing we need to chop onions for the soup doesn’t seem like a task that would take a lot of time until we started. The recipe called for 50 onions, which we thought would take 30 minutes with two people chopping. Two hours later – with tears rolling down our faces – we had sliced 50 onions for the soup. From that point forward, we knew each task would take much longer then originally planned.

Andie cooking the onions in the soup kettle.
Food Ordering
Another challenge faced was the correct amount of food we requested on the grocery list was not ordered. We needed sweetened condensed milk to make the toffee bars, and it was not ordered. We started making the recipe before gathering all the ingredients, so we discovered we didn’t have the milk until all the other ingredients were already mixed together. Luckily, another kitchen on the campus had enough cans to finish making the dessert.

I am making the toffee cookie bars.

Temperature Check
The morning of the theme meal was very stressful. My partner and I needed the help of two chefs to get every menu item ready in time for the event. Even with their help, we faced problems. We discovered our brisket was raw when we went to carve it and it had to go back in the oven. We had just enough time to cook it and have it carved for the meal. Now, we know to ask someone to double check the temperature of the meat before assuming it is done just by cooking it in the recommended amount of time.


Knowing these simple precautions in advance could have saved us time and stress during the preparation of our theme meal. Even with facing challenges every step of the way, our theme meal was a success.  We had about 100 guests and minimal food waste.


Monday, January 12, 2015

School Dayz

As with most recent graduates, as you put away your cap and gown, you probably thought school days were a thing of the past. Right? Wrong! As with any dietetic internship, school days are here again. The life of a dietetic intern includes a variety of learning experiences to enhance the rotation experience including class days. Once a week, typically on Monday, the dietetic interns meet for class. Class days can include anything from MNT related lectures to conferences. They can also include field trips and joint class days with other internship programs. Whichever the venue or the topic, you are guaranteed to learn and have a great time. Below are just a few of our most recent class day adventures.

University of Maryland Joint Class Day: Nutrition, Communication, and Information Management

Joint Class days are always fun especially when you are the host! On January 12th, the University of Maryland Dietetic Internship Program hosted a joint class day. The over-arching theme, like our emphasis, focused on nutrition, communication, and information management. Presenters shared information on new and upcoming Apps in nutrition and dietetics, reaching a new generation of foodies through technology, and life as a super market dietitian just to name a few. As inters hosting a class day, we all participated in helping the day run smooth. I was able to introduce different speakers while others helped with registration and facilitated other activities.  We were also given the chance to network with registered dietitians and other interns while visiting different vendor/information tables.
Me, Rayna, and Rory at UMD Joint Class Day

Children’s National Medical Center Pediatric Symposium

The Pediatric Symposium was hosted by Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C on January 5th.  The symposium included multiple speakers lecturing on a variety of topics. Presentations were given on pediatric nutrition assessment, formula and enteral nutrition, inborn errors of metabolism, cystic fibrosis, and much more. The symposium allowed interns to take an in-depth look at how to appropriately assess, evaluate, and care for critically ill infants and children.

Always time for selfies! Chandler, me, Rory, and Andie!

Technology Class Days at the National Agricultural Library

Technology class days are by far the most fun yet the most simple in regards to class days. Many of our class days are spent on the 14th floor on the National Agricultural Library (NAL) in College Park, MD- what a great view!  During class days at NAL we cover tons of information regarding technology and nutrition information management in a variety of ways. We've learned how to effectively maintain information databases through useful applications; the importance of reaching audiences through social media; and, how to build our own website.  Having html basics is a great tool to have in your back pocket in the age of technology; having your own website to showcase your hard work is even better!

Me and the gang at Hopkins Bayview Joint Class Day


Halfway through the internship program I find myself extremely thankful for class days! Whether I am learning about MNT or learning how to reach audiences through Twitter, I count them as days to learn more about what I truly love-nutrition!   

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Day in The Life of a UMD Dietetic Intern: Outside Rotations

UMD’s dietetic internship is filled with a variety of experiences.  Throughout the rotations, each intern is able to try out different areas of nutrition, whether it’s in a hospital, a school, the government, and the list goes on.  However, our practice goes beyond our rotations.  We are offered many outside opportunities, along with class days filled with conferences and workshops.  As with many things in life, it’s important to take as many chances that come your way.  Our director is sure to include us in many great events!  Here are some I took part in. 

Mission of Mercy Health Fair

I attended the Mission of Mercy Health fair with some of Food Supplemental Nutrition Education (FSNE)’s amazing staff!  The health fair was a free dental clinic.  I was so impressed with the procedures being completed right before my eyes.  I was introduced to a piece of equipment known as the “smoothie bike”.  We encouraged participants to pedal away to power the blender attached to the bike!  The blender was filled with a delicious cantaloupe and watermelon smoothie.  I of course, had to give this bike a shot!  I also helped hand out healthy s’mores with non-fat vanilla yogurt, graham crackers, and slices of strawberries!  People asked me nutrition related questions about healthy breakfast ideas, healthy shopping on a budget, or getting kids involved in the kitchen.  I’m so glad I was part of this amazing fair! 




Maryland Dietetics in Health Care Communities Fall Workshop

Phyllis, our director, allows the interns to actually get hands on involved in many of the conferences.  At this event I was lucky enough to introduce Pam Cureton who was speaking to us about Gluten Free Diets.  Following Pam, we learned about managing diabetes with the elderly, prebiotics and probiotics, public policy, and so much more!  Each lecture was filled with educational information.  Many of these events are great for networking with extremely established individuals in the field.  We even got to taste new gluten-free products!

Moveable Feast: Food Day

My partner and I decided to join Moveable Feast’s celebration of Food Day back in October and we are happy we did!  This was a really special event, which again provided a great place to speak with others in the field and network.  We met Registered Dietitians who worked at Moveable Feast, as well as other interns from various internship spots.  It was great to hear their experiences.  The event had incredible chefs who participated in a healthy cook-off.  They had to use cabbage, eggs, raisins, apples, sweet potatoes, and could add items ranging from garlic powder to crushed tomatoes.  I was so impressed with the dishes they created!     



Food Supplement Nutrition Education Annual State Conference
On a class day, the 10 interns met in Annapolis to participate in the fall conference for FSNE.  The day was filled with great presentations talking about how to be a better communicator and develop teamwork skills.  We did really fun icebreakers, which had us all laughing and getting comfortable with each other.  One icebreaker even landed me some new Okra seeds to plant!  Since I already had my rotation at FSNE and worked with the wonderful staff and educators, it was really nice to see them again and catch up. 





All in all, throughout my internship, I am continuously learning that each day and each event presents so many learning opportunities.  I am so excited to continue taking advantage of everything that comes our way!  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Move your Feet for Moveable Feast

That’s right… time to get moving and out in the community – well for me at least. After spending months in a clinical setting working in different hospitals, the time has come for me to experience what else the dietetics field has to offer. I began my two-week community rotation at Moveable Feast, a non-profit organization in Baltimore, Maryland that provides “nutritious meals and other services at no cost to people who are sick and need support.”

Some of the “other” services include nutrition counseling where Registered Dietitians come in to place. They provide nutrition assessments to clients at home or in office. During my rotation, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients in both settings. I didn’t think I would use the same skill set in a community setting that I had learned during my time in clinical rotations, but found that the assessments weren’t that different at all. I actually learned that I enjoyed visiting clients more at home. I was able to view the client’s living style, see their food availability and they often felt more comfortable in their own home than at a hospital where they are often sick and not feeling well. I loved developing deeper relationships with the clients and felt that I was able to make a better nutritional assessment in the comfort of their own home.

Moveable Feast specifically works with HIV/AIDS clients and those with life-changing medical conditions. Malnutrition and poor appetite is often a side effect and I was able to enhance my nutritional skills with repetitive practice.

Not only did I put my clinical skills to use at Moveable Feast, but also had the opportunity share my technical skills creating infographics and developing recipes for their culinary class. We had a guest baker come in and teach the class how to make two different healthy holiday recipes and take baked goods home with them.


I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I enjoyed working in the community setting, despite my dream to have a career as a clinical registered dietitian. I loved the idea of regularly working with clients and monitoring their nutritional changes. Although I finished my rotation before Christmas, I volunteered to deliver meals on Christmas morning. The regular drivers for Moveable Feast are given the day off on Christmas and the entire community and state pitches in to deliver meals to every client on Christmas day. It was a great way to start my Christmas morning and reminded me how lucky and truly blessed I am to have had such a great experience. I shared with my family and friends my experiences with Moveable Feast and it is definitely an organization I hope to continue to work with. My final takeaway from my community rotation was to stay open-minded. You may have an idea of what you would like to do as a career, but never close the door to other options.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Finding Happiness in the Hospital

My two and half month clinical rotation has officially come to a close. Clinical nutrition has never been my driving force in this field of work; however, my experience these past 11 weeks has changed how I feel about clinical dietetics. So if you are a future Dietetic Intern and you are struggling with the fact that all internships require you to do a large portion of time in clinical, read on.
I went into this rotation with the mindset, “I cannot wait for this to be over. I know this isn’t what I want to do. I know I don’t want to work in a hospital.” Period. However, with some time, I started to think and feel differently. At the rotation end I reflected on my time in the hospital and came up with two huge reasons why I appreciated the lengthiness required of an intern in a clinical setting.
1st: Working as a clinical dietitian allowed me to gain skills that can’t be obtained through reading a textbook or sitting in a classroom. No matter how many times I have heard an ADIME lecture, all the steps in the process didn’t click for me until I physically screened and visited patients in the hospital.  Constantly learning and gaining new knowledge is very satisfying and rewarding. This is important to have in any job, but especially when you are not being paid for your work. My knowledge of different disease states and medical nutrition therapy greatly deepened during this rotation. This constant learning and skill development helped keep me engaged, on my toes, and focused while working in the hospital.
2nd: Helping others is extremely rewarding. It provides a sense of satisfaction and happiness that can’t be attained through any tangible or worldly item. This rotation forces you to take yourself outside of your own thoughts and needs; it has helped me to be a more selfless, thoughtful person. When you are in the hospital you are surrounded by sick, often frightened patients. You can’t go into their room with a bad attitude and expect them to give you the answers you need to get your job done well. You have to step outside of yourself to provide them the care that you would want if you were in their shoes.
However, treating patients the way I would want to be treated was not a huge challenge for me. The challenge for me was the way being in a hospital all day made me think and feel after I left work. Not to get morbid, but it made me think about sickness and death more often than I wanted. Sometimes it made me feel sad, maybe even a little depressed.  With that said, thinking about my patients and their (mostly) positive attitudes and outlooks on life made me realize I needed to snap out of it. Life is fleeting; we all go through hardship and have pain at one point or another. I can choose to feel sad and sorry for myself when things get tough or I can choose to be happy and strong. It isn't always easy, but then I think about my patients and the lessons they have (unknowingly) taught me; I choose to be happy and strong.  

To help myself feel this way, even after a hard day of work, I decided to start counting my blessings and reminding myself of all the good that I have in my life on a daily basis. This way of thinking required me to monitor my thoughts and actions consistently. The moment I started to complain, feel angry, feel sad, feel like I was treated unfairly, etc.  I reminded myself of everything wonderful that I have in my life. This ability to re-direct my thoughts when negativity enters my brain has been beneficial to me in so many ways that extend far beyond the workplace. Life is so short, I want to be happy during the time I have here.
 I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to work this length of time in a hospital. I can now say with 100% honesty that I am not opposed to taking a job in a clinical setting once this program comes to an end.

Pictures posted are of just a few of the things/people that make me happy and inspire me to be better on a daily basis.