Friday, December 4, 2015

Conferences Galore

                Variety is the spice of life, right? Turns out variety can be the spice of an internship too. So far, I am twelve weeks into the UMCP dietetic internship, and I have already visited 31 different locations! I love being able to see the incredibly wide variety of places that dietitians work.  As a part of my rotations, I have been able to attend many different conferences, workshops, and seminars which were great for learning, networking, and having fun. Many dietitians seem to be constantly learning and improving their skills. I’ll describe a few of the events I’ve been able to attend.
                At my school lunch rotation, I got to go to a briefing called the State of Obesity 2015, at the Capitol building! My partner and I acted nonchalant as we walked in, but it was really exciting to be there. The talk was mostly focused on childhood obesity and how we will need to use many different approaches to combat obesity and promote health. I was surprised to learn that the DC Healthy Kids Act actually has goals for nutrition behavior, physical activity, and emotional health for every grade level from pre-K through high school.  Some of the speakers were a principal of a NYC public school who has exercise bikes in the classroom and a researcher who described the trends and statistics related to childhood obesity.
                At one of my technology rotations at the International Food Information Council, I was sent to a two-day conference at the National Academy of Sciences building in DC. It was co-hosted by Institute of Medicine and AARP, and the event was focused on changing nutrition needs for the elderly and how to meet them.  I think I learned so much on this day that my brain must have grown! From 8-5:30 on the first day, there was a steady stream of 20 minute lectures by experts from around the country in a wide range of topics.  I typed up 26 pages of notes for my preceptor, who was at a different conference that day.  One of the most interesting topics was hearing how they are preparing for the new 100-120 year old segment of the population which is rapidly growing and expected to be over 1 million people by year 2050. 
                I also got to attend an FSNE (Food Supplement Nutrition Education) conference in Annapolis. This was a class day event, which meant that all ten interns were invited to come (although two did not because they were doing their clinical staff relief rotation). This day kicked off with a lecture by a pediatrician, followed by talks about SNAP, childhood education, and text messaging services to spread nutrition education. This was the most interactive conference I’ve been to; there were a lot of different activities like walking around the room to write on posters, moving to a new table to discuss a case study with somebody new, and coloring in a blank puzzle with qualities that nutrition educators should try to exhibit with young children.  All in all, I really appreciate the opportunity to see so many different events and experience the wide scope of the dietetics profession. 

- Maria Pittarelli
follow me on twitter @beyondlettuce

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