Friday, October 28, 2016

White House Tour

When given an opportunity to network, UMD’s dietetic interns jump at the chance.  The interns recently were able to connect with some previous interns during a tour at the White House. The tour was coordinated by Sasha Bard, a former UMD Dietetic Intern who currently serves as Associate Director of Policy for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program.

Current and past interns meet to tour the White House.

Although anyone can schedule their own self-guided tour of the White House, the intern’s tour came with a couple of benefits. We met members of Let’s Move who told us about their daily duties and what it’s like to work in the Office of the First Lady. We also met the White House Executive Chef and Pastry Chef. They described what it is like to cook for the first family and official visitors. The chefs shared some of the Obama’s favorite meals and other interesting facts about White House food.

White House chefs are explaining the intricacies of cooking for the first family.

After hearing from the speakers, it was time to go on the self-guided tour. The White House encourages visitors to take pictures and that is exactly what the interns did. From group pictures with statues of former Presidents to selfies outside the White House, the interns made sure to document their tour. Overall, the White House was an incredible experience and something that we are sure to remember. I am grateful we had this networking opportunity and I gained insight into these RDs’ valuable work.

2016-2017 Interns with bust of Abraham Lincoln.

Group selfie outside the White House!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

MD-DHCC Fall Workshop

On Wednesday, October 5th, we were given the opportunity to attend the Maryland Dietetics in Health Care Communities (MD-DHCC) Fall Workshop in Clarksville, MD. The emphasis of this meeting was Long Term Care, a specialty of many members of MD-DHCC.

As a first-time conference goer, I had two goals for this workshop: network and learn. Here's how I accomplished my goals:

1. Network with some of Maryland's finest Registered Dietitians 
I was excited to be in a building full of experienced RDs--people who not only share a common love for nutrition, but who have also been interns before and could provide words of wisdom to current interns. I can happily say that I was not disappointed! The RDs that I had the chance to speak with had nothing but encouraging messages for me and my upcoming career as an RD.

One of the messages that I particularly loved was: "Participate in everything you can during your internship. You may never have some of these opportunities again." I took this message to heart and the following day I made room in my busy schedule at my clinical site to see a Modified Barium Swallow Test!

I will also note that it was initially super overwhelming to be at my first conference. Thankfully, all of the interns were given jobs to perform during the day--like signing guests in, helping with parking, etc. Having a job made it easy for me to introduce myself as an intern and future RD.

2. Absorb information given during the workshop presentations
As I said before, the overarching theme of this workshop was long term care. There was a lot of incredible material presented, all contemporary and relevant to the field of nutrition in long term care. Some of the information I learned includes:
  • Nutrition Focused Physical Assessment (NFPA)
    NFPA is a valuable skill for dietitians and is becoming an essential part of the Nutrition Care Process. During this workshop, I learned how to look for and feel for signs of malnutrition, really using a literal hands-on approach to patient care. As you can see in the pictures below, we all had a chance to practice our NFPA skills with a peer. The interns in the pictures are checking their partners for wasting of the temporalis muscle.
Top: Intern Paula assessing intern Ysabel
Bottom: Intern Ben assessing intern Mike
  • Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition - Sure, I learned about the basics of tube feedings in my undergrad education, but this lecture told me how nutrition support really works for long term care facilities. Patients and/or patient families can have a say in what is being provided in a tube feeding. Many facilities are making blenderized feedings possible. That's right, tube feeding formula made from blended foods!
  • Pressure Injuries - Pressure injuries, formerly known as "bed sores" or "pressure ulcers," are a huge concern for long term care. I knew that adequate nutrition, especially protein, is needed to prevent and treat pressure injuries. This presentation taught me that Arginine intake up to 6-9 g/day is now also recommended for patients with higher staged ulcers whose nutritional needs for treatment may not be met through traditional measures.
Overall, I highly enjoyed my first conference experience. I exceeded my goals for networking and learning. I look forward to the next conference in Spring!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Benefit of Tech Tools

As UMD Dietetic Interns, we have the opportunity to experience a lot of different dietetic settings, including community, foodservice, clinical, and technology. The technology rotations consist of completing blog posts, constructing infographics, or compiling and organizing data. The three programs below have been extremely helpful in developing my technology skills, and you may find them useful as well!
1] Google Drive
Google Drive allows you to easily create and store all kinds of "Google documents", including "slides" and "sheets" that mimic Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel, respectively. These features are particularly helpful when my partner and I need to share documents like nutrition education flyers or research compilations. Google drive is very user-friendly, so it’s not too difficult to learn.
2] Piktochart
So far I have been to four rotations, and three of them have had me use some kind of simple graphic design platform to create informational handouts or pages for different audiences. While words are always useful in describing or teaching community members, clinical patients, or even the general public, pictures and colorful images are undoubtedly needed. Piktochart will allow you to create aesthetically pleasing graphics without much of a headache. Plus, it’s free!

3] Weebly
Weebly is simple for everyone to use. All UMD interns are required to create and update a professional online portfolio that will encapsulate all of our experiences, work samples, resume, and certifications throughout this internship. Since it’s interface is build-as-you-go, with a little patience and practice, you can easily become a pro.
From creating amazing infographics and detailed websites to organizing and sharing your documents, developing your technological skills will prove remarkably useful as you build your brand in the professional world. Even if you aren’t an expert right now, you can become one with a little practice! Soon you’ll be teaching your coworkers tech tips to simplify their jobs -- and yours.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Three Things I Wish I Knew Before my Dietetic Internship

It’s a little surreal to wake up in a place that I had never been only two months ago. For the last two years, I sat in class day dreaming about getting a dietetic internship and moving out of state. It felt like I had ten years until that day would come and here I am, it has come and gone and I am already done with six weeks of my dietetic internship and halfway done with my primary clinical rotation.  

I have already learned so much in such a short time that I can only imagine how prepared I will be to practice as an RDN by the end of the program. While I feel like I did come to my internship well prepared, there are some things I wish I would have known beforehand to help ease into the internship.

1. Moving across the country isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Everywhere you go there are people just like you who don’t know what they’re doing either. You will never know the feeling of true accomplishment until you move into a city that is completely foreign to you and can finally get to the grocery store without using a GPS. No matter how different the new city is, you will adjust quickly.

2.  Everyone had the same type of undergraduate experience as you did.

One of the biggest things I was terrified of coming into the internship is that other interns would have had a more thorough undergraduate curriculum than I did. I was nervous that my small state school in Minnesota wouldn’t compare to the students from James Madison or Penn State. Truth is, we all know different things but we are all on an even playing field in the internship. Lesson learned: if you were lucky enough to get matched with an internship, you will be just fine.

3. Your fellow interns are your new best friends.

The other interns are the only people who know exactly what you’re going through. They can laugh – or cry – with you about how you sat in traffic almost as long as you were at rotation (minor exaggeration). They encourage your growing coffee addiction and help explain things that went over your head. Best of all, you always know there are people in the same situation as you.

It is hard to believe that we are already six weeks into our internship, but I am so excited for all of us to grow as professionals and help each other along the way. Happy interning!