WIC - Community Rotation
My final rotation was spent in the county WIC offices. I was able to assist with nutrition screenings, assessments, and education. I gave several nutrition presentations, including a staff in-service training on the distinction between a milk allergy and lactose intolerance, and more importantly, the significance of such a distinction with respect to treatment and education. This was a particularly interesting rotation for me, as I most passionate about the prenatal/infant population and the vital role nutrition plays during these periods in the lifecycle. Growth assessments and the necessary interventions were a regular part of care, assuring that both mom and baby were doing well and nutritionally-sound. I was also able to observe and participate in a number of breastfeeding classes and educations, providing me with valuable tools for future pre/postnatal counseling so that mom can supply her child with the most perfect and complete nutrition possible from birth.
I had the opportunity to work at a diverse, long-term care facility, offering everything from Independent Living arrangements, to very hands-on clinical care for rehab and long-term residents. This rotation offered me experiences in not only clinical nutrition management of the elderly and often demented patient, but also provided valuable foodservice and nutrition management experience. From menu development and foodservice staff training, to dietitian/chef recipe demo specials and an on-site farmers' market for residents, this rotation allowed me to truly experience every facet of long-term care and the variety of roles a dietitian can play in such a setting.
Fall 2013 - Spring 2014
The clinical component of my internship was comprised of rotations at 4 different major medical centers in the D.C. and Baltimore areas and included inpatient and outpatient experiences. My clinical adventures began at Franklin Square Medical Center, an acute-care center in Baltimore. I began learning to screen patients to determine if they required assessment, assessing those who did, and then composing an appropriate intervention plan. I was responsible for documenting all of the care process and any education that was appropriate to the patient's needs and goals.
I then spent a week at National Rehabilitation Hospital in D.C. This was a very different experience, as patients in this setting were not in acute distress, but trying to recover from or maintain their current, chronic status. I learned to electronically chart in this setting, using one of the many available electronic medical record systems. I was again responsible for screening, assessing, creating interventions, and following up with patients in this new setting.
Because my interest lies heavily in pediatrics, I was fortunate to receive time at Children's National Medical Center in D.C. This was my first real opportunity to work with the pediatric population, which has vastly different needs and considerations than the adult population with which I had become accustomed. I provided obesity/weight management education, as well as failure to thrive (FTT) diet strategies. One of my patients during this rotation served as the subject for my self-selected and presented case study. I chose to present on a FTT child, as I felt it would be an area with which most of my fellow interns would be unfamiliar.
My final and most lengthy portion of clinical experience was at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. My rotations here included everything; General Medicine, Surgery, Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgery, Endocrine, Neurology, Transplant, Oncology, Critical Care, Renal, and NICU. I additionally had pediatric and oncology outpatient experience, where I was able to counsel adult and pediatric patients one on one and created a number of educational handouts with recipes and suggestions for improving diet compliance and success. My time at Georgetown was a continuation of my previous experiences, including further screening, assessment, intervention, education, and monitoring of a diverse set of patients and disease states. Enteral and parenteral nutrition was a regular part of my nutrition care therapy. I also completed my staff relief at this location, spending two weeks providing care as the active dietitian on my assigned floors. For the first week, this included the General Medicine floor and the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). The latter was a significant and unique intern experience. Infants are a population with which many dietitians never have the opportunity or desire to work. My final clinical week was spent in the ICU (intensive care unit) and the Neurology floor. These 700+ hours of clinical practice have left me feeling confident in my abilities as an entry level clinical RD. I am proficient in writing chart notes and was able to carry a full RD patient load, starting with screening patients, all the way through follow-up and education.
School Nutrition Management Rotation
The first part of my dietetic internship was spent in the D.C. city schools through Chartwells. I worked side by side with the Resident Dietitian to help promote healthy school lunches and provide effective training to associates to ensure food was safe and delicious. I created a number of nutrition lessons that were utilized and presented during the "Growing Healthy Schools Week" in October. I also designed a handout and gave a nutrition lesson to adults and parents in the D.C. Chartwells office, as well as DCPS representatives. Samples of these lesson materials can be found in the "Work Examples" tab.
During my time at the Chartwells account in D.C., I collected plate waste as part of a larger study through Cornell, wrote reports for improving school food consumption, and helped design and implement numerous taste tests for new potential menu items within the schools. I also gained experience in associate training, performing allergy, modified diet, and puree trainings with various foodservice staff. Additionally, I worked one on one with many parents throughout the district to develop an appropriate cycle menu that met their child's special dietary needs, both medically related and due to religious preferences. My experiences and time in the school nutrition rotation gave me a good sense of both the specific dietetic-related activities and demands, as well as the management aspect of a dietitian in a school foodservice environment.
Summer 2013, 2014
Connecting with food, with nature, getting back to basics and understanding where our food comes from, how it came to be, and where I can take it next has always been fascinating to me. I had the rare opportunity to volunteer at a local, family-owned, organic farm over the summer. I spent several hours a week helping to plant, harvest, grow, and, where necessary, curing a variety of plants. I was able to follow the process from composting to growing, all the way back to the return of the harvested crop remains back to the compost pile for the following year's planting soil. Toward the end of the summer, I had developed enough skills that I was offered a job by the farmer to help finish the final weeks of summer harvesting. Because this farm ran a local CSA as well, I was able to develop and offer recipes to be provided to the CSA members each week to give them ideas for what to do with their weekly bounty.
This experience has only made me want to grow my own food and be more aware of where my food is coming from than ever before. I developed a greater appreciation for local offerings and based many of the recipes in my blog on seasonal, local fare that I had hand-picked from the fields myself. I found myself more willing to try new recipes and eat items that I would previously have avoided, feeling so proud of having played a part in the food item making it to my table. I realized how being involved with our food, whether on the growing level, the shopping level, or just the cooking level, changes the way we relate to food and nutrition and builds a deeper interest in what we consume. I believe this experience will not only benefit me personally as I continue to further my connection with nutrition, but can be employed and draw upon in my future work with clients and patients. Finding a way to incorporate a direct connection with the food one is eating may help encourage a change and increase one's investment in their nutrition.
Assistant Varsity Girls' Soccer Coach
Summer and Fall 2011
This was an incredible experience for me. I have always known that I wanted to be able to work with individuals, providing them with the knowledge they need to truly help themselves. Coaching allowed me to help guide these young women learn a different way to approach health and nutrition. I loved being a part of the process in which these women began creating a healthy relationship with food and exercise. For one of my classes, I was asked to give a nutrition presentation. These girls were a perfect audience. They were excited to learn more and so grateful for my presentation. This was another experience that just confirmed how much I enjoy working with people and helping them help themselves find a way to wellness.
Fall 2010-Summer 2011
After a semester at medical school, I was asked to be a teaching assistant for one of my professor's anatomy labs. Due to my success in all of my courses, I was also sought out by several students for private tutoring sessions in anatomy, pathology, and biochemistry. I enjoyed these opportunities. Both built my confidence in my ability to help others learn and develop new skills and knowledge. I also relished the chance to sharpen my own skills and knowledge about these subject areas, which provide the basis of much of my current nutrition coursework and the clinical skills I will need in the future.
National University of Health Sciences - Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Student
Fall 2010-Summer 2011
I have always had a passion for and interest in preventing disease and instilling life-long wellness through the practice of healthy life-style habits. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes the role of what are referred to as the "determinants of health": nutrition, physical activity, sleep, hydration, mental and spiritual health. I spent a year in a medical school program, working towards becoming a doctor of naturopathic medicine. Not only was the program deeply science-based, but it emphasized the relationship of the doctor as teacher to his patient. I began developing skills in history taking, assessment of vitals, and becoming a true listener. The role of diet in health, both for disease prevention and healing was a key element of my studies. Over the course of my year at National, I realized that my passion for nutrition and wellness was stronger than ever, but that my overall life goals might be better suited by pursuing a path in nutrition specifically. As I've put it before, I'm very glad that when the time comes, there is a pediatrician out there somewhere who will answer my 3 a.m. phone call, but I don't want to be that doctor! My time in medical school showed me how important a work-life balance is to health. It confirmed my passion for nutrition and helping people find their way to wellness, and provided me with an incredible opportunity to begin developing my clinical skills and a firm science foundation. It was through this experience that I was able to find my path to the dietetic field.
Spring 2009 - Fall 2010
Although this experience was not specifically nutritionally related, the doctor I worked with places a clear and distinct emphasis on prevention. I also gained a great deal of insight into what it takes to run and maintain one's own practice. This is something I hope to achieve in the future. So many of the patients we saw could have prevented or reduced their suffering if they had maintained better nutrition and exercise. I was struck by how many ailments could be eliminated if a stronger emphasis was placed on the basics. This experience helped me to more clearly define the path I wanted to pursue within the healthcare field.