Monday, December 29, 2014

Move your Feet for Moveable Feast

That’s right… time to get moving and out in the community – well for me at least. After spending months in a clinical setting working in different hospitals, the time has come for me to experience what else the dietetics field has to offer. I began my two-week community rotation at Moveable Feast, a non-profit organization in Baltimore, Maryland that provides “nutritious meals and other services at no cost to people who are sick and need support.”

Some of the “other” services include nutrition counseling where Registered Dietitians come in to place. They provide nutrition assessments to clients at home or in office. During my rotation, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients in both settings. I didn’t think I would use the same skill set in a community setting that I had learned during my time in clinical rotations, but found that the assessments weren’t that different at all. I actually learned that I enjoyed visiting clients more at home. I was able to view the client’s living style, see their food availability and they often felt more comfortable in their own home than at a hospital where they are often sick and not feeling well. I loved developing deeper relationships with the clients and felt that I was able to make a better nutritional assessment in the comfort of their own home.

Moveable Feast specifically works with HIV/AIDS clients and those with life-changing medical conditions. Malnutrition and poor appetite is often a side effect and I was able to enhance my nutritional skills with repetitive practice.

Not only did I put my clinical skills to use at Moveable Feast, but also had the opportunity share my technical skills creating infographics and developing recipes for their culinary class. We had a guest baker come in and teach the class how to make two different healthy holiday recipes and take baked goods home with them.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I enjoyed working in the community setting, despite my dream to have a career as a clinical registered dietitian. I loved the idea of regularly working with clients and monitoring their nutritional changes. Although I finished my rotation before Christmas, I volunteered to deliver meals on Christmas morning. The regular drivers for Moveable Feast are given the day off on Christmas and the entire community and state pitches in to deliver meals to every client on Christmas day. It was a great way to start my Christmas morning and reminded me how lucky and truly blessed I am to have had such a great experience. I shared with my family and friends my experiences with Moveable Feast and it is definitely an organization I hope to continue to work with. My final takeaway from my community rotation was to stay open-minded. You may have an idea of what you would like to do as a career, but never close the door to other options.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Finding Happiness in the Hospital

My two and half month clinical rotation has officially come to a close. Clinical nutrition has never been my driving force in this field of work; however, my experience these past 11 weeks has changed how I feel about clinical dietetics. So if you are a future Dietetic Intern and you are struggling with the fact that all internships require you to do a large portion of time in clinical, read on.
I went into this rotation with the mindset, “I cannot wait for this to be over. I know this isn’t what I want to do. I know I don’t want to work in a hospital.” Period. However, with some time, I started to think and feel differently. At the rotation end I reflected on my time in the hospital and came up with two huge reasons why I appreciated the lengthiness required of an intern in a clinical setting.
1st: Working as a clinical dietitian allowed me to gain skills that can’t be obtained through reading a textbook or sitting in a classroom. No matter how many times I have heard an ADIME lecture, all the steps in the process didn’t click for me until I physically screened and visited patients in the hospital.  Constantly learning and gaining new knowledge is very satisfying and rewarding. This is important to have in any job, but especially when you are not being paid for your work. My knowledge of different disease states and medical nutrition therapy greatly deepened during this rotation. This constant learning and skill development helped keep me engaged, on my toes, and focused while working in the hospital.
2nd: Helping others is extremely rewarding. It provides a sense of satisfaction and happiness that can’t be attained through any tangible or worldly item. This rotation forces you to take yourself outside of your own thoughts and needs; it has helped me to be a more selfless, thoughtful person. When you are in the hospital you are surrounded by sick, often frightened patients. You can’t go into their room with a bad attitude and expect them to give you the answers you need to get your job done well. You have to step outside of yourself to provide them the care that you would want if you were in their shoes.
However, treating patients the way I would want to be treated was not a huge challenge for me. The challenge for me was the way being in a hospital all day made me think and feel after I left work. Not to get morbid, but it made me think about sickness and death more often than I wanted. Sometimes it made me feel sad, maybe even a little depressed.  With that said, thinking about my patients and their (mostly) positive attitudes and outlooks on life made me realize I needed to snap out of it. Life is fleeting; we all go through hardship and have pain at one point or another. I can choose to feel sad and sorry for myself when things get tough or I can choose to be happy and strong. It isn't always easy, but then I think about my patients and the lessons they have (unknowingly) taught me; I choose to be happy and strong.  

To help myself feel this way, even after a hard day of work, I decided to start counting my blessings and reminding myself of all the good that I have in my life on a daily basis. This way of thinking required me to monitor my thoughts and actions consistently. The moment I started to complain, feel angry, feel sad, feel like I was treated unfairly, etc.  I reminded myself of everything wonderful that I have in my life. This ability to re-direct my thoughts when negativity enters my brain has been beneficial to me in so many ways that extend far beyond the workplace. Life is so short, I want to be happy during the time I have here.
 I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to work this length of time in a hospital. I can now say with 100% honesty that I am not opposed to taking a job in a clinical setting once this program comes to an end.

Pictures posted are of just a few of the things/people that make me happy and inspire me to be better on a daily basis.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Future Registered Dietitians in the Kitchen at Riderwood

With the holidays quickly approaching, there is one thing that will be on everyone's mind, and that's food! I know that I have been thinking about all of the delicious food I will eat over the holiday season, and looking at recipes is becoming a hobby of mine. I also have been looking at traditional English recipes for our theme meal "English Grub in the Pub." Since starting our rotation at Riderwood, my partner, Colleen, and I have had the opportunity to work in the kitchen at Riderwood's Seasons restaurant. There is so much to learn about how the meals make it to the plate and then to the residents. We assist in the production of dinner for that evening and the preparation for the days following. I never imagined I would be learning so much about cooking! 

Colleen and I working in Season's Kitchen 

In order to prepare for our theme meal, we have been doing various tasks throughout the kitchen to get familiar with the facility so we are able to cook our meal successfully the week prior to the big day. I have learned how to trim a beef tenderloin, how to quickly chop many fruits and vegetables, how to get the nice grill marks on yellow squash, and so much more! We also have been working with Chef Victor and Chef Evroy to learn about the various roles they play in food service. We were able to practice ordering food and costing out our recipes to understand how much our own meal will cost per plate. 

Our Theme Meal Handouts

In the beginning of this rotation, I read over the projects to be completed over our six weeks at Riderwood. I began to feel incredibly overwhelmed, and did not know how we will be able to get everything done on time. With great time management and help from awesome employees at Riderwood, everything is coming together so well. It is crazy how fast the time goes when there is so much to do and fun people to work with! It's not all work and no play, of course! We had a great time with residents serving appetizers and hot apple cider during Winterfest.

Serving appetizers and hot cider to residents at Riderwood for Winterfest!

It is definitely going to be a lot of work, but there is so much to learn in the weeks leading to our theme meal. All of the hard work will pay off when we are serving our food to people who attend our meal. Food service is not just cooking food and doing dishes, there are many people who are essential in making a restaurant successful and wear a variety of hats. We have a great opportunity to work with all of them at Riderwood!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wellness Walls

What are Wellness Walls?

My partner, Ashley, recently explained our three-week rotation at The University of Maryland Dining Services. I am going to point out one of my favorite projects….The Wellness Walls! The Wellness Walls incorporated five main categories; healthy cooking tips, exercise tips, nutrition tips, a seasonal recipe and lastly, a healthy and unhealthy plate picture. My partner and I worked on creating material for the wall each day and were able to finalize and design a new board each Friday!
'Get Rooted In Fall'
'Fall Into Comfort'

Our rotation started October 6th and ended October 24th making ‘fall’ a perfect theme for our Wellness Walls.  Our first Wellness Wall was titled 'Get Rooted In Fall', which incorporated rooted vegetables in many of our nutrition tips and our in recipes. These tips allowed our viewers to gain ideas on how to prepare and cook rooted vegetables along with healthy ways to incorporate rooted vegetables into their diet.

The theme of our second Wellness wall was ‘Pumpkinfest’ which, if you couldn’t tell from the name, hinted on the health benefits of pumpkin and presented healthy ways to roast and cook with pumpkin seeds. Our exercise tips also included fall traditions for example raking leaves and getting pumped with pumkins! Who knew pumpkins could be used to intensify push-ups?

Our final wellness wall was titled ‘Fall Into Comfort’ which incorporated traditional comfort fall food with a healthy spin. For example, when preparing heavy fall dishes cooking with reduced fat and sodium brands will lighten up the dishes, yet still create the comfort flavor. We also created exercises that can all be done in the comfort of your own home!   

Overall, Ashley and I got great feedback from our Wellness Walls. We were told that because staff members speak both English and Spanish, having all the materials in both English and Spanish was visually appealing and clear to everyone. Another comment made by the staff was the importance of the pictures. Our healthy and unhealthy plates were clear and contained limited text allowing viewers to understand portions and food groups without reading text. The Wellness Walls were a great way to incorporate creative ideas with nutrition knowledge to promote a healthy lifestyle!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Is There a Formula for the Perfect Intern?

“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark”

During orientation, my Internship Director provided the class with this powerful quote.  My director also told us to think about the internship as a 10 month long job interview.  This really got me thinking about what qualities and characteristics make up a successful intern.  With only a few weeks at each rotation, I realized just how important it would be to make the best impression possible with my preceptors and coworkers. 

Since beginning the rotation at the end of August, these past 3 months have flown by.  In this short period of time, I have had the opportunity to rotate through 6 of my rotations including: Prince George’s County Agency on Aging, Dining Services, DC Central Kitchen, Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE), International Food Information Council (IFIC), and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). 

With nearly half of my rotations under my belt, I have come to realize that certain characteristics are essential if one wishes to be a successful intern.  So, what is the formula for a successful intern?  Two key components contribute to this formula:


The fast-paced nature of a dietetic internship makes it extremely important for an intern to be adaptable and maintain flexibility in these ever changing environments.  My rotation with FSNE required me to be flexible in many ways.  Each day’s schedule was different and required me to travel to many locations throughout Maryland and meet with a variety of nutrition educators. Being flexible helps to minimize stress and increase efficiency when working on projects and assignments. 

While it is important for adapting to changes, flexibility is also an essential part of adapting to the different personalities and work habits at each rotation.  Each of my 6 rotations so far have been very different from one another and required me to utilize different skill sets.  By tailoring my actions and behaviors to the particular environment I am working in, I am able to show my preceptors that I am capable of working as part of a diverse team. 


Thinking of the internship as a 10 month long job interview, self-motivation is one of the most distinguishable characteristics an employer would be looking for when hiring. Impress your preceptors by showing them that you can get work done in a timely and professional manner with little supervision.  Listening carefully and asking questions has helped me understand my preceptor’s expectations and stay on top of my assignments.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask if you can get involved with a project that you are interested in.  If something sparks your interest, see if there is any way you can help out.  This shows that you are truly interested in gaining a better understanding of what each rotation has to offer.  With numerous interns going through each of the rotations, it is easy for your preceptor to forget a lot about you.  However, if you work hard and stay motivated, you will be more likely to stand out from the crowd. 

Although there is not one perfect formula or equation for being the perfect intern, remember to stay positive and put 110% effort into everything you do.  Make the most out of any situation and don’t hesitate to get involved!