Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How Twitter Enhanced My Internship Experience...In 140 Characters or Less

I have to be honest...when Twitter became really popular several years ago, I didn't get it.  At all. Constant status updates? A character limit? What was so appealing about it?

When I realized that one of the requirements of our program was to tweet, I thought it would be a struggle.  I started off slowly by just sharing what I was doing at my rotations. I figured if no one read my posts, I'd at least have something to look back on at the end of the program. As things got busier, I found myself tweeting more and more to keep up with everything that I was experiencing.  Soon, I got the hang of using hash tags to connect with others and began posting pictures of me in action, in addition to sharing interesting nutrition articles that I found on the web.  I gained followers that weren't just my (awesome) fellow interns and even had the CEO and co-founder of the tech tool that I presented reach out to me for future collaborative efforts after he saw several of my tweets.

There are tons of ways to make the most out of Twitter during the internship but here are a few things that helped me the most:

1.  Using hash tags to reach a larger audience.  You can tweet as often as you'd like but if no one is reading it, you're wasting your time. Hash tags like #rd2be, #rdchat, and #nutrition can connect you to dietitians and dietetic interns. If you're at a conference or event, a great way to be a part of the discussion is to use hash tags suggested by the event coordinator - for example, at DCMADA, we were asked to use #DCMADA2014.

2.  Tweeting on a regular basis.  Unlike Facebook or other social media platforms where sharing too much can be a bad thing, you can post as often as you'd like on Twitter. Some weeks you may post more often than others but you don't want huge gaps in time when you aren't tweeting at all.  Similar to blogging, you want to be consistent to make sure you are keeping your followers interested.

3.  Interacting with other as much as possible.  Don't be afraid to start a conversation or reply to a dietitian or other professional on Twitter if they post something interesting.  If someone follows you, favorites a post, or retweets you, be sure to thank them - and return the favor by following back. You never know who will stumble across your Twitter after seeing your interactions on someone else's page.

4.  Staying organized!  It can be hard to keep up with all of your followers, and you may be interested in what some people have to say more than others. Creating lists can help you prioritize the tweets you want to check out, especially since some people tweet 20+ times per day. I put my fellow interns and people I met this year into a list called "Dietetic Internship" while dietitians I follow on Twitter fall under my "RDs/Nutrition Professionals" list, and my friends and family are added to "People I Know", etc.

Twitter has been a great platform for me to create an online presence and to connect with dietitians, dietetic interns, and health professionals from all over the country.  In the beginning, I wasn't sure how social media could benefit me as an intern but I quickly realized that it was another way to market myself and to share my ideas and experiences.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Adventures at Riderwood

The last six weeks have flown by and I have loved every minute of it! Coming into this rotation I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have learned so much about food service management, serving people, and having fun in the kitchen. I am grateful for all of the kitchen staff, supervisors, managers, and chefs, and the loving kindness they showed towards me. The work environment was welcoming and a great place to learn. I truly felt like part of the team and even like family. From helping at their African dinner to preparing for my own Cinco de Mayo theme meal with Becky, I enjoyed working with those around me. 
Interacting with the residents and getting to know many of them was heart warming. I enjoyed talking to them and hearing how much they love having the UMD Dietetic Interns come to Riderwood. Many of the residents knew who Becky and I were based on our uniforms. It was great to meet other Maryland Alumni!

There are no words that can truly express the joy and love I have for Riderwood. I am so happy I had the opportunity to come here and meet all of these wonderful people.

Becky and I wanted to share with those we worked with how much we appreciated them, so we came up with our own homemade recipe…

A Recipe for Fun


2 Bubbly Interns
1 Smiling Chef
1 Singing Chef
1 Loving Manager
10 Patient and Supportive Kitchen Staff
2 Selfless Service Managers
2 Funny Supervisors
5 Sweet Utility Workers


Combine Smiling Chef, Singing Chef, and Loving Manager in a small bowl and set aside to cool. Add a cup of Bubbly Interns and knead until fully mixed. Transfer to larger bowl and let rise for 5 minutes.

To the larger bowl add the Patient and Supportive Kitchen Staff. Proof for 5 hours. Bake in oven at 300o F for 10 minutes, check for doneness. Remove and cool on wire rack.

Once fully cooled, add icing of Selfless Service Managers and Funny Supervisors to top. Garnish with Sweet Utility Workers on the side. Serve warm.

Finished Product: 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

If I'd Only Known....

It’s unbelievable to think that our 10-month journey is almost coming to a close. After that first day of orientation back in August, my only thought was, “This is going to be a long year.” But boy was I wrong! Now the new dietetic interns have been matched (congrats!) and our time will soon be over. While I wouldn’t change a thing, there are some things I had wished I had known going into the internship. So, voila! I’ve created a list of the five things I wished I’d known.

1.       You do not need to know EVERYTHING! I think this was one of the first things I had to come to terms with. I used to work myself up going into a new rotation, thinking that I would be quizzed and questioned on every little thing, when in reality, your preceptors and rotation sites do not expect you to be a genius. If you were, you wouldn’t be in an internship! So don’t try to memorize every single lab value and medication on the market before starting clinical or spend countless hours reviewing your food service book – you’ll only make yourself crazy!
2.       Stayed organized and ahead of the game. You’re schedule is constantly changing, so my biggest piece of advice is learn organizational skills – and quickly! Invest in a planner or big wall calendar and map out all of your rotations that way you know exactly where to go each week. It’s also great to write down any due dates or homework assignments that are coming up. We’ve also learned about a ton of tech tools this year for organization like Wunderlist and Trello – these are nice to have in your back pocket…i.e. on your smart phone.
3.       Never be afraid to ask questions. If you never ask questions, you’ll never learn. I was always afraid I would appear “stupid” or “dumb” if I asked certain questions, but you’re preceptors are more than willingly to help out in any way they can, so ask! Many of your preceptors have had years of experience in the profession so they are the perfect people to look to for answers.
4.       Learn some patience. Because it will be tested at times. Whether it’s the hour and a half long one-way commute you have, or the patient who just doesn’t want to listen or cooperate, just remember things could be much worse. I promise all of the commuting is worth it! The experiences we get in this internship program are so unique and unlike many other programs so sometimes we do have to travel. And the patients and clients we see are what we will experience in the real world, so it’s just a matter of killing them with kindness to hopefully give them a small nudge to make a change – and don’t take it personally.
5.       Keep that chin up. There will be some days where things just won’t work out for you, or information won’t stick, or maybe you or preceptor just isn’t having a great day. Don’t fret! Just take a deep breath and remember that tomorrow is a new day.

And the bottom line is to HAVE FUN! It truly is a one of a kind experience that you get in your internship so make the most of it. If you make it enjoyable, it will be something you’ll never forget. You get out of your internship what you put in – so keep that in mind. It’s a learning opportunity that can only help you to grow in your knowledge and experience, so enjoy it!