I can’t believe I’m already half way through with my rotations. I recently completed my second community rotation at Food and Friends. Food and Friends is a non for profit organization that cooks, packages, and deliver food to people with HIV/AIDS and cancer in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. There are Registered Dietitians on staffs who provide nutrition assessments, complete home visits, phone counseling and educations to the clients. Some of the roles the dietitians performed that caught my attention were; the cooking classes and the nutrition education that were offered to the clients. The dietitians were so dedicated in teaching the clients in how to prepare a healthy meal, modify recipes, and general food safety.
Some of the things that I worked on while I was in Food and Friends:
Packing and delivering meals to clients
Assisting with a cooking class and delivering a nutrition lesson
Creating a food safety handouts
Developing and creating employee healthy challenge theme.
Participating in staff meeting
It was exciting to meet the clients face-to-face. After we did a couple of stops, I wondered how the HIV/AIDS clients would feel about the home delivery visit by different drivers and volunteers. I remember when AIDS was the elephant in the middle of the room that no one wanted to talk about. Virus carriers isolated themselves because of the stigma. This was the main reason why too many people were afraid to see a doctor or seek help from the community. Even though that we have seen changes in people understand of the disease, there is still a fear of the social disgrace of speaking about it and taking easy available precautions.
I am sure that living with HIV is certainly no walk in the park. Taking medication every day, doctor's visits every three months, and the fear that one day your health might fail are just some of the challenges people living with HIV/AIDS face. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been in the beginning of the epidemic, to be dying of something and not knowing what was killing you. Or even worse -- knowing what is was, but having a doctor tell you "sorry, there is nothing we can do." This rotation made me realize that today HIV/AIDS patients are aware of the disease process and are using community resources to stay healthy.
This rotation gave me the opportunity to work with excellent dietitians who inspired me to become more passionate about community nutrition. I learned that as a future dietitian, I can make an effective change in the health of society through community efforts. I also liked the reflection component of this rotation the best. The reflection component definitely set this rotation apart from other rotations I have done in the past. It will allow me to take this experience and apply it in the future.
RD to Be: Tips for success in your community rotation. If you want to be helpful in your rotation, do research on community resources ahead of time. Having a knowledge base about the population served by the organizations will let you brainstorm with your preceptor. I also suggest reading your facility’s community needs assessment reports and this will give you more information about the population you’re helping.