Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Clinical Experience at a Veterans Affair Medical Center

With less than 3 months until graduation from the UMD Dietetic Internship, it is hard to believe that I am 3 days shy of completing staff relief at my clinical site. For the past 10 weeks, I have been interning at the DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center (DCVAMC). My experience has been quite unique and different compared to my classmates, as I have gotten to experience both inpatient and outpatient.  At the DCVAMC, there are 16 Registered Dietitians; for my primary 8 weeks I was with a different dietitian each week. For my first month, I started with the outpatient RD’s who specialize in diabetes education and management, weight loss, cardiac rehab, and oncology. I began my second month working with the inpatient RD’s in the Medical Telemetry Wards and in the ICU/Critical Care Units. Prior to starting my clinical rotation, I was very nervous and slightly intimidated as I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. All my worries and fears dissolved within a day as I quickly adapted to the fast paced environment and grew confidence within myself while interacting with patients and writing nutrition notes. The weekly homework assignments and weekend quizzes helped hone my knowledge, skills and application of different disease states and treatment so that I could better assess, diagnosis and create a nutrition intervention plan for a patient.
Fortunately, I was able to celebrate National Nutrition Month at the DCVAMC where every Wednesday, the Nutrition Department hosted a themed health fair in the atrium for the staff and general public. The health fair themes consisted of: Diabetes Management and Prevention, Weight Management, Bone Health, and a Heart Healthy Diet. I was able to participate in the Heart Healthy fair and educate the public on ways to lower their cholesterol and reduce their sodium intake, all while enjoying complimentary fruits and vegetables and handing out prizes to participants who answered game questions correctly.
During my time at my clinical site, I have been able to witness and experience firsthand different tasks a registered dietitian is responsible for—I even had to opportunity to watch a modified barium swallow and endoscopy! My rotation at the DCVAMC has been nothing less than rewarding as I feel I have strengthened my clinical skills all while being able to make a true and positive impact on the patients I have seen.

Learn about Heart Healthy Tips with RD's: Donna, Jeff and Ryanne
Spin the wheel to select a heart healthy question for your chance to win a prize!

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