Monday, January 6, 2014

Open Mind, Better Client Care

Throughout the internship open house and interview process, our director and internship advisors made it clear that successful interns need to have an open mind. An open mind is necessary for numerous reasons, but mainly due to the on-the-go, ever-changing atmosphere of the internship. If an intern is rigid and only focuses on specific goals and tasks, their day will not go well.

I learned early in the internship that being flexible, willing and open to changes is just part of everyday work life, and that unyielding expectations for the day ahead can lead to disgruntled colleagues, unfinished assignments or unseen patients. Although an open mind about the day ahead is necessary for day-to-day activities, one must have an open mind about the clients served to ensure a positive impact. I did not fully understand this until my Food & Friends rotation in Washington, DC.

Food & Friends is a meal delivery service in the heart of DC with the mission to provide specialized meals and groceries in combination with nutrition counseling to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life challenging illnesses. Employees and volunteers of Food & Friends create and package meals, assemble meal delivery and grocery bags, and provide support and a friendly face to each of their clients. One of the delivery drivers I had the opportunity to work with even brings the clients' mail and has little treats in his truck for the clients' pets. While shadowing the dietitians I listened to their nutrition counseling and was amazed by how their poise and empathetic approach directed each session and client to a positive goal or outcome.
 The empathy I witnessed at Food & Friends reinforced the significance of an open mind toward clients and their care. I was reminded to always approach a patient, client, or participant with an open mind and heart. I saw that regardless of their situation or illness, each client deserves a chance, a conversation, and an opportunity to make initiatives toward a healthier life.

As the second half of this internship begins, I still plan to approach each day with an open mind, but more geared toward the people I am serving and less toward my specific day.

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