I recently finished my second clinical rotation at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network (NRH) in Washington, D.C. MedStar NRH provides inpatient and outpatient services to patients with disabling illness or injury, such as stroke recovery, spinal cord injury and brain injury. One of the things I enjoyed most was about working at NRH was the strong focus on diet education. I had the opportunity to provide both individual and group nutrition- education sessions to patients on a variety of topics, such as weight management and diabetes.
I was so excited to teach my first lesson to a group of patients on the basis of MyPlate, healthy cooking techniques, and a heart healthy diet. Keeping it simple is key to nutrition education, especially since these patients have varying levels of cognitive, neurological, and behavioral function. To make the lesson more interactive and fun, I brought in MyPlate paper plates, provided handouts on each topic, and used colorful posters. The patients were so involved and interactive throughout the lesson; it was such a rewarding experience!
I also enjoyed participating in the Wellness Cooking Demo featuring January’s super food of the month: citrus. The event featured five delicious and healthy recipes using citrus as the base ingredient and incorporating other foods such a salmon and Brussels sprouts with fennel. The registered dietitians and I handed out samples and recipes to patients, staff members and visitors in the cafeteria. Although some were hesitant to try the recipes, many others were pleasantly surprised by how yummy everything tasted!
During my two-week rotation at NRH I learned so much about the integral role nutrition plays in the rehabilitation process. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent at NRH and have developed so many new skills working with an amazing team of registered dietitians!