The dietitians at Children’s National Medical Center know first-hand that big challenges can come in small packages. The University of Maryland Dietetic Interns were given an opportunity to learn this and more at the Children's National Pediatric Nutrition Symposium. The Symposium consisted of a series of lectures presented by the dietitians of Children’s National. The symposium began with the basics of pediatric nutrition care. As the day progressed, the lectures moved on to more specific disease states, such as cystic fibrosis and gastrointestinal disorders. The day ended with breakout sessions on neonatal intensive care, pediatric critical care, and inborn errors of metabolism.
A common theme that appeared during the disease lectures was monitoring the patient’s development on a growth chart. Abnormally low growth chart readings are typically indicative of malnutrition caused by a worsening disease state. With many of these issues, getting enough calories and protein to prevent further loss of lean body mass is critical. The dietitians at Children’s National use creative methods to boost calories in their patients’ meals, such as adding olive oil into dishes or an extra scoop of ice cream into their patient’s supplement shake. These methods may seem to go against the conventional view of dietitians as weight loss coaches; however, they are incredibly important to pediatric care as an imbalance in marco or micronutrients can result in dire consequences.
Dietetic Interns before the start of the symposium
What stood out to me the most from the symposium was the way the dietitians described their work. In a morbid area that sports high levels of burnout, the dietitians of Children’s National Medical Center displayed passion and excitement as they described their experiences with pediatric patients. Nothing but positivity could be found in their body language and their speech throughout the series of lectures. They know they are truly making a difference in so many lives through their work. I believe I speak on behalf of all the interns when I say that the Pediatric Symposium has left me eagerly awaiting my 2 week rotation at Children’s National.