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.
- 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.