Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Make Your Dreams Your Reality

On April 6th, 2014 my dream came true; I was accepted into a Dietetic Internship.  But let’s back track here quickly.  As I was applying to the internships I read a book that changed my life, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  I constantly reminded myself to stay positive during the waiting period.  I focused on the good and visualized myself in the University of Maryland Dietetic Internship program.  I highly suggest looking into the book or just accepting this train of thought for anyone who is going through the application process.  

While I was getting ready to make my move from New York down to Maryland, in light of a ton of nerves, excitement, and anticipation, I wrote down a few important goals to keep in mind.  Now that I’m about 10 weeks into the program, I still hold true to my goals and think of them each week.  I wanted to share them for anyone about to enter an internship, or any new adventure at any point in life. 

Take every possible opportunity.

This may sound cliché, but it is so true.  Take everything that comes your way.  What’s the worst that will happen?  Nothing I can think of.  Whether it’s a group workout class with the office or a health fair with no one you know, go for it and don’t stop there!  Grab dinner with your new internship (or work) friends and go to that extra event after work.  You’ll gain a new friend, a new experience, and so much more. 

Act like a sponge.

A dietetic internship is a unique time in life between undergraduate classes and work.  You are provided with the opportunity to meet and interact with so many different people.  Every person you meet has a story and something to teach.  Take advantage of this.  Write notes, capture mental memories, and absorb everything you possibly can.  Your director, the internship staff, and preceptors want to help you learn and watch you succeed.  Don’t forget that! 

Enjoy it all.

Whether you are in your hardest rotation, or simply a challenging time in life, there is always something positive to take out of every single situation.  Enjoy where you are right now in your life.  When you give off positive energy others will respond.  The internship will challenge you both intellectually as well as emotionally.  Whether it’s a 5:00am alarm or staying up late to finish homework, always remember that you are one step closer to your goal.  Enjoy it.  

Find time for yourself.

New beginnings can always create a sense of uneasy feelings or stress.  Make sure to create time for yourself.  Do something you enjoy; take a workout class, do a yoga video, cook a new meal, or simply sleep late on a Sunday.  But most importantly, take a second to be proud of yourself for starting this new adventure! 

Never stop seeking opportunities to capture your dream and never stop learning.  Set goals for yourself, talk with people you meet, stay positive, and always put your best foot forward.  Take a chance because who knows you may stumble upon the path to your dream. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top Five Tips and Tricks to Survive Your Clinical Rotation

Halloween is right around the corner and it doesn’t just mean candy and a toothache for me, but the end of my 10-week clinical rotation at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital. When I learned that my first rotation in the dietetic internship would be clinical, excitement wasn’t exactly the first thing that came to mind, but instead absolute PANIC. Don’t get me wrong, I live and breathe for the clinical setting, but learning that I would have no prep time for homework or become mentally prepared almost had me admitted as a patient. But I am here to tell you that with a few Chakra breathing techniques and my survival tips, you too will feel like a clinical superstar!

1. Strive for improvement, not perfection.
Obviously this is easier said than done and chances are you are a type A personality just like myself, but what you are not is a Registered Dietitian with 30 years of experience under your belt. This concept took awhile to sink in, but after 8 weeks I think I finally understand. There is a reason this is the longest rotation of them all, the information to learn is endless, but your time here is not. As a dietetic intern, many of us believe that when we leave here we need to know everything ever written by ASPEN or in the nutrition care manual to be successful, but this all comes with time. Take a deep breath - it will all be okay.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
While in your clinical rotation any time you’re not seeing patients, scribbling down every little thing the dietitian is doing, completing homework, or burying your head in a textbook, you will be most likely trying to make sense of every little thing you have learned and still have questions. We are the nutrition experts we should want to know as much as possible to do the best job we can, but that doesn’t mean we will know everything. So much of why we complete such an extensive clinical rotation is because we couldn’t possibly learn everything we need to know from a textbook – practicing is learning too! Just when I think I’ve got diabetes education down to a science, some loop hole exception never mentioned in my textbook applies, but hey now I know next time.

3. Be proactive!
Since day one of my internship the phrase, “this is a 10-month interview” has been engrained in my brain. For the past 8 weeks, I have had the opportunity to work with three amazing dietitians who have taught me so much and gone out of the way to answer any questions I have, the least I can do is offer to help them with any additional work big or small. Not only have I worked on my clinical skills with patients, but also I have had the opportunity to work with the wellness guru herself and assist in superfood sampling and food demos – did anyone say fabulous free food?

      4.  Do NOT procrastinate.
I repeat, do NOT procrastinate! Did you get that? Your clinical rotation specifically requires a lot of brain power and focus in and out of the hospital and keeping up with weekly assignments is a must. You’re probably thinking 10 weeks? Pshh plenty of time to do my weekly homework assignments, quizzes, case studies, and any other projects I may have going on – think again. This isn’t college where you have endless breaks and can rush an assignment before class, planning is key and procrastination will only lead to increased stressed, sleepless nights, and tired eyes. Simple enough, do it right and on time, you won’t regret it.

      5. Have Fun!
Okay, okay, enough of the fearful messages, remember to have fun! As nervous as I was for my clinical rotation, I could not have been more excited to be working in a hospital and acting as am ‘almost’ Registered Dietitian. I have met so many wonderful people from patients to dietitians to kitchen staff, I am so thankful to have had such an amazing experience and am sad to go.

At the end of the day you are here to learn and complete the next stepping stone in becoming  Registered Dietitian. Life is scary as it is, your clinical rotation doesn’t have to be!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Laughter is Key: My Internship Experience Thus Far

                  It’s hard to believe, but this internship program has officially hit the two month mark. Time is flying by and sometimes I feel like I live in a whirlwind. If you aren’t one of my fellow interns (and especially if you are a Dietetics major interested in the program) let me give you a quick run-down on what life is like as a UMD College Park Dietetic Intern.    

                   The 10 and a half month program allows each intern to experience 14 different rotations revolved around clinical, community, food service, and technology--which is a unique rotation to our program. Rotations vary in length of time.  Interns work full time in these rotations 4 days a week and 1 day a week we meet for class. Class days are what I like to call miscellaneous days; they can consist of many different experiences including but not limited to: technology training, clinical lectures, general lectures, conference meetings, group days with other internship students, and professional speaker presentations. Class days are also a day when we all get to be together as a group, catch up on each other’s rotation experiences, learn, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. Additionally, we are required to complete several projects and homework assignments during each rotation. So it’s a lot—hence my use of the word whirlwind.

                  Whirlwind could be interpreted negatively so let me clarify: I wouldn’t change a single experience that I have had since I started this program. If you want variety, a director who is there for you every step of the way, a program that challenges you and builds character, an opportunity to make hundreds of new connections, and a unique internship emphasis--this program is for you. A quote that I love by American Author Ken Kesey, “You can’t really be strong until you see a funny side to things” has really resonated with me over the years and especially during this internship. Stress, chaos, and hardship are inevitable (in this internship and in life) but if you can smile, laugh, and find humor throughout your day, you will be strong enough to handle anything that comes your way. Live, laugh, love! And don’t stress too much about that Biochemistry test ok? You’ll make it through!!

Here are pictures of some of my experiences so far!! 

My internship partner Chandler and I at a seminar hosted by the National Coalition for Food & Agricultural Research(C-Far) 
Seminar Speaker Sonny Ramaswamy, PhD and Director of the National C-Far

Promoting Healthy Corners, a program aimed at reducing food deserts in Washington DC
Helping RDs and aspiring RDs register at the MD-DHCC conference

Sorry for the bad posture Mom! It was really early and I feel like I can partially blame the wall here!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Working with Weebly: Making a Website Your Own

      Growing up in a world surrounded by technology, the idea of creating my own website and understanding HTML coding never crossed my mind. I simply thought Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were as close as I would come to having any sort of website attributed to my name. Throughout this internship, we (the interns) have the ability to be guided through creating a website based on our own professional experiences with multiple technology tools and techniques. We have been shown multiple tools to add creativity and organization to our website, which will be a great representation of all our hard work throughout the next 10.5 months. 

We began learning more about website creation by using HTML coding and designed a test webpage to see how different codes affect the webpage through font and paragraph structure. Then, we were shown a website creator called Weebly, and this is where the fun began. We had the opportunity to explore the website and check out all of the different features it has to offer. In order to have the most informative professional website there are some essential components to keep in mind.

  • Welcome page
  • Biography page
  • Resume page
  • Work Samples page
  • Pages for all experiences within each rotation
  • Conferences and Events attended page
  • Certificates page
  • Contact page
      More sections and subsections can be added, but there has to be one place to start! Weebly has a ton of great tools to customize your site including many themes, option to add pictures, change fonts, add videos, put in your twitter feed, add links to other sites from the original page, and so much more! With multiple options to customize, not one intern has the same website as another.

The finished product will be a representation of all of the rotations summarized, presentations given, certificates acquired, projects completed, and the overall experiences gained throughout the entire internship. The website is a great way to keep track of all of my skills obtained while being a dietetic intern. I can't wait to see the finished product of my website after I graduate! I will definitely continue to update my website after I get my first job and gain more skills and experience.
Visit my, or any of the intern's, websites for updates on our progress throughout the internship!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Flavors Of Morocco: Beginning, Middle and End!

Ashley and I began at Riderwood for our first rotation site. Initially we were a bit nervous, knowing we had a “theme meal” to create, which had been talked about in great detail through orientation and conversations with past interns. Walking into Chef Victor’s office on the first day was a bit nerve-racking, not only were we starting our first day of our dietetic internship, but it was also the first day of our rotation. After talking with Chef Victor, we gained great insight about creating, preparing and executing our theme meal. Our first step was to brainstorm an idea for our meal. We looked through previous themes and decided that an ethnic theme was the most popular. We also decided not to reuse ideas from the past.  After many days of brainstorming we finally landed on Morocco, leaving us with our final idea, Flavors of Morocco! Following the creation of our theme, we quickly got to work researching recipes native to Morocco and learning about traditional foods and traditions. 

After finalizing our menu, Ashley and I began working in with the wonderful and friendly kitchen staff to practice using kitchen equipment and also learning new cooking techniques. After a bit of trial and error, Ashley and I made adjustments to our recipes and felt comfortable working with the kitchen appliances needed for our theme meal.

Time flies when you’re having fun; it was already time to promote our theme meal. Ashley and I began creating posters, flyers and handouts to encourage residents to attend our theme meal. We were able to promote the lunch by hanging posters all around the facility, crafting table tents at each dining hall and speaking with residents at dinner. 

Next, it was time to begin prep work for our theme meal! Ashley and I created a preparation schedule, which included times to cut and cook food items and decorate the dining hall. Our theme meal was scheduled on Friday, therefore we spent Tuesday through Friday morning preparing! With the help of the Chefs and cooking staff we were able to finish everything on schedule!

Friday morning flew by and it was time to plate our food for the buffet and greet guests! Sure enough residents were in line, ready to enter and Ashley and I were so excited to see such a great turn out! Throughout the meal we received great feedback and through talking with the residents we could tell the meal was a success! The clock hit 1:30pm and the meal had come to an end. Ashley and I could not have been more thrilled with the turn out of the meal and the amount of support we gathered from the cooking staff and residents!

Thank you to the wonderful cooking staff that helped us create this delicious meal and who gave us support throughout the entire process!