Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Have Abstract Poster, Will Travel

Each year, the UMD dietetic interns are tasked with creating an abstract poster related to a project completed during the internship. These posters are then presented at various professional gatherings and workshops in the spring.  These abstract poster sessions ended up being a great way for me to practice my public speaking skills and network with health professionals in the DC/Maryland area. 

After completing my rotation at USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), I chose to write my abstract about the research I had conducted on “Mommy Bloggers” and how they can be of use to dietitians.  For some background information on my abstract, see the infographic below. To read my full abstract related to “Mommy Bloggers”, check out my internship portfolio

Although writing an abstract may seem daunting at first, choosing a topic you are truly passionate about will make things easier and more enjoyable in the long run.  My internship director helped me with every step along the way to ensure that the final poster was the best it could be.  In addition to the help from my internship director, my technology preceptors taught me about the relationship between the design and organization of a poster and its success among peers.  Abstract posters should be clean, professional, and eye-catching in order to grab the reader’s attention. 

I have unquestionably gotten a lot of use out of my poster these past few weeks. On April 10, I had the opportunity to participate in the abstract poster session at the District of Columbia Metropolitan Association of Nutrition and Dietetics (DCMAND) annual meeting.  This year’s meeting focused on Evolution or Revolution and facilitating change in nutrition practice.  I even got a shout out from the first speaker, Priyank Shah PhD, for my innovative “Mommy Blogger” abstract!  After Dr. Shah’s speech, I had numerous people come up to my poster asking questions. This experience taught me it is extremely important to be knowledgeable about the topic you choose to research in order to better explain the abstract to other health professionals at the poster sessions. 

Last week, I attended the Maryland Dietetics in Health Care Communities (MD-DHCC) spring workshop and had the opportunity to network with a wide array of healthcare professionals from long-term care facilities in the state of Maryland.  At this meeting I was invited to present my abstract, MOMMY BLOGGER: A Powerful Tech Tool for Dietitians Targeting Moms, for over 150 attendees at the workshop.

Creating an abstract poster with the help of my internship director and preceptors helped me become more comfortable putting together presentations for other Registered Dietitians and members of the healthcare team.  I now feel confident enough to write abstracts all on my own and have even submitted an abstract up for consideration at this year’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Nashville, TN.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rotation Spotlight:Corporate Wellness

As a future Dietitian with a strong interest in wellness, I was ecstatic to spend a five week rotation with Wellness Corporate Solutions and a 2 day visit with a Health Waves. After spending the beginning of the internship in Clinical, Corporate Wellness was a new and exciting venue of Dietetics I wasn't aware of before! Here are some of the things I learned:

1) "Survival Skills" vs. Health Coaching

With clinical nutrition counseling, you have limited time with a sick patient, often with little to no follow-up. You basically are providing "survival skills" of  a disease state and hope the patient follows-up with an outpatient RD. However, as a Corporate Wellness RD, you have much more time to spend coaching and checking up on progress. There is a larger opportunity to get to know a patient to determine what lifestyle changes are best for them.

2) Corporate Wellness RD's are often Program Coordinators or Directors.

Program Coordinators run the show in Corporate Wellness Dietetics. They plan, implement, and present webinars, group presentations, and write blogs. They often create handouts and other printed materials for clientele, while squeezing in a few health coaching here and there! Program coordinators organize all aspects of the "product" (wellness coaching) for big name companies.  Not all Program Coordinators are RD's though, some have degrees in Kinesiology or Public Health.

3) Technology and people-skills are important!

If you are interested in wellness, it's important to develop technology, marketing, and people skills. You need to be able to produce results by drawing people in and maintaining their interest. Why would a company hire you if you cannot improve their employees' health profile? Your health materials and ability to work with others play a large role in your client's success.

I loved Corporate Wellness because I believe RD's can make a huge impact on their clients' lives. You have the opportunity to inspire  healthy and often motivated employees. You can watch them progress and improve their health, which is an exciting process. If you have the opportunity to see a Corporate Wellness company during your internship, I highly recommend it!

The Farmer’s Market at Maryland

Two weeks ago, I began my second foodservice rotation at the University of Maryland Dining Services. While working at the South Campus Dining Hall, I was pleasantly surprised by all the sustainability efforts being made by Dining Services. Their “Green Dining” program supports multiple sustainability programs on campus, such as reusable carryout, waste separation, composting, and bottle filling stations. Dining Services also supports the Farmer’s Market at Maryland, which provides students with the opportunity to purchase directly from local farms. Every Wednesday in the spring, members of the UMD community can enjoy the food and friendliness of a farmers market right on campus.

I was really excited when I was asked help out Allison, the Dining Services Sustainability and Wellness Coordinator, at the UMD Farmer’s Market. When I first arrived, I couldn’t help but take a quick stroll down the aisle of vendors. Local farmers were selling fresh produce, breads, meats & cheeses, jams, and other artisan products. I also saw the Green Tidings truck, a mobile food truck that serves local, sustainable food throughout campus. I my first job was at the Farmer’s Market Information Table, where I talked to students and staff about Dining Services sustainability efforts and upcoming events on campus. As an incentive to come, we handed out free UMD Green Tidings t-shirts to the first 100 visitors at the Farmer’s Market.

After the giveaway, we held an on-site healthy, cooking demonstration featuring a delicious chickpeas stew with couscous. During the demo, I passed out recipes to students passing by and handed out free samples. This was a great way to engage customers and show them hands-on how to prepare easy and healthy meals.

Overall, I was really impressed by the University of Maryland’s dedication to provide healthy, fresh, locally-grown produce and other products to students on campus. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with the Dining Services staff at the Farmer’s Market and on other sustainability projects!