This was the first week of spring semester classes. The workload has yet to dig in and leave marks on my shoulders, so for the present I feel foolishly enthusiastic to run, skip, and leap ahead into every class, assignment, and reading. But hold on-let me turn around and peer back to the beginning, way back to the trailhead. Where have I trekked, and what have I learned? I’m glad this blog can help me remember the signposts along my trail.
Signposts along the Dietetic Internship
What’s a dietetic internship? Short answer: Learning the skills to become a Registered Dietitian through 1200+ supervised hours of clinical nutrition training. Long answer: please see the American Dietetic Association.
Here’s the rotations I’ve done so far.
- Tufts Weight and Wellness Center-a multidisciplinary approach to weight loss and bariatric surgery. What did I do? I donned scrubs and observed a gastric bypass surgery. I [unsuccessfully] attempted a meal-replacement diet by eating high protein bars from 3 days. I watched a lot of nutrition counseling. But most importantly, I learned respect from the clients that I met. Behavior change is HARD! Also, the dietitians here introduced me to greek yogurt. A lovely substance.
- Tufts Research rotation. These dietitians and researchers are investigating the relationship between HIV and nutrition. I did my first diet recall here! (I had one convicting assignment involving omega-3 fatty acids. I went home and bought walnuts, and I am still on the search for cashew butter.)
- Outpatient Head and Neck Oncology. Chemotherapy and radiation makes for some unhappy patients. This was my first chance to read medical charts-so many abbreviations!
- Dental rotation at Tufts Dental School- I learned about preventative oral nutrition. You know-don’t eat hard candy, avoid soda, brush those pearly whites, and floss. Yay for a free toothbrush!
- Administration Rotation- mock staffing schedule and quality control exercise…tedious but very relevant.
- Management Rotation- mock budget exercise, and a lesson on the politics of hospital bureaucracy…scary.
- WIC Office. I never thought I would like community nutrition. But here I was truly touched.
- Joslin Diabetes Center. Ahh, 3 weeks of diabetes overload at Joslin-what a priviledge! I counted my carbs and tracked my sugars (yay for a free glucometer!), I observed insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring training (wow, high tech stuff), I learned about Vitamin D and UV exposure, and I met a very cool pediatric dietitian. Now here’s someone who rocks her job!
- PRIORITY- a new pediatric weight clinic at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children. I gathered materials for a nutrition education handout on healthy restaurant eating tips. Pretty *shocked* by the Cheesecake Factory and Uno’s menus. 5000+ mg of salt and 30+ grams saturated fat in ONE dish?!
Signposts from the classroom.
I’ve learned so much from my classes, but here’s two things I’d like to share.
First. I’m thankful that my classmates are my future colleages. In my biochem class I enjoyed hearing the opinions of my peers as we tore apart the new cookie diet, debated the soda tax, or questioned the front of package food labels. I’m constantly humbled by their accomplishments and ideas. What an optimistic future.
Secondly. I’ve been thinking about the field of nutrition, and I have a lot of questions. Online nutrition information is like an unchartered frontier. How can I sort through the inaccurate junk and dig up the nutrition truth? Nutrition is a multi-disciplinary field crossing into government policy, food industry, marketing, and scientific research. Thus, is there such a thing as a nutrition expert? Nutrition is a hot topic, and everyone wants to get their hands dirty: the food industry, sports and fitness professionals, physicians, researchers,…and every person who eats is their own nutrition expert, right? As a future dietitian, where is my place?
Here’s my Sping semester lineup:
Crumbs of Advice: for Dietetic Students [and myself!]
Get friendly with Pubmed. This search portal for scientific literature is the ultimate resource for nutrition research, or any research! Reading, understanding, and translating research literature is an art and an essential skill. I’m slowly getting better.
Have you tried Google Reader? Stay on top of real time nutrition news by subscribing to RSS feeds of the NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, other major newspapers, and government health agencies (USDA, NIH, non gov’t IOM).
Plunge into social media. It’s pulling out to sea, so get on board. No I’m serious! Blogs, twitter, linked in. Yup-even if you don’t like it, at least be aware of it. I believe this skill set will be critical in our internet-fueled economy.
Get aquainted with Microsoft Excel. Quite frankly, I struggle with Excel and wished I had learned it sooner.
Thank you to those who read my blog, or for anyone who is stopping by for the first time. I enjoy processing my thoughts, sending them out into the void, and sometimes hearing echoes and answers.
I’m happily munching and crunching along this trail, and I’ll try my best to keep spreading the crumbs of what I’m learning.