Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It’s Not Just Clinical: The Technical Side of the Internship

It is hard to believe that just one year ago I had submitted my applications, checks were mailed, and interviews were being scheduled. I was initially intrigued by the University of Maryland College Park dietetic internship for its widely diverse rotations and “information technology” focus. I thought technology? Hmm… I like working on computers, learning the mechanism behind things worked, and knew technology was an integral part of the future.

Up until now my internship time has been filled with 12+ weeks of clinical experience and shorter rotations in between. I recently just finished my rotation at the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC), working specifically with the SNAP-Ed Connection team and really learned how nutrition and technology go hand in hand.

I spent five weeks working with the SNAP-Ed team learning how to code, develop new pages for their website, perform resource reviews, attend conferences, and research materials for web pages. The SNAP-Ed Connection website is a great resource for state and local snap-ed providers, educators, and consumers. I learned html coding and was able to design nutrition information pages about food preparation and cooking for all ages. As a future registered dietitian, having webpage development skills and a nutrition background can be a great marketing tool. When I was first provided with the upcoming projects I would be working on, I would be lying if I say I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t know how to code or interpret Google analytics, but I do know how to listen and manage my time, which was key in being successful.

Using Google analytics, I was able to track site traffic and hits and depict the reasoning for certain spikes or falls in views. After uploading new materials, we are able to quantify data to make future decisions on the work site for better or worse. Although working on the technical side of things doesn’t involve patient interaction, I was able to see how my work truly made a difference when users emailed the team thanking them for new materials and describing the helpfulness to their classes even from behind the screen.

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