Rotation 1: Food Service Management (Weeks 1-3)
When I was told I would be starting in food service I immediately thought… “GREAT.. my least favorite”. I worked two food service jobs in college but I knew I didn’t want to go the food service route. A food service rotation is required for almost all dietetic internships because it’s a big chunk of the RD exam. I went into this rotation with an open mind. I worked with the Director of Nutrition. Basically, all of food service worker and RDs report to her with problems or required changes.
During this rotation, the most valuable task I had was evaluating patient trays. I evaluated appearance, accuracy, taste and temperature. I received several patient trays and held them in the office for 15 minutes before I took the temperature of EACH food item. This includes the main entree, vegetables, meats, soups, dessert, etc. I also tasted each food item. I was able to try the regular, low sodium and dysphasia trays. Dysphagia trays are pureed, mashed or chopped. They weren’t the best tasting… but it was what I expected. This helped me understand and actually taste what patients were eating.
Rotation 2: Public Health (Weeks 4-6)
One of the most valuable experiences was presenting a Rethink Your Drink campaign. A fellow intern from another school and I prepared a presentation to a K-6 elementary school. We presented twice. The first time was K-3, second time was 4-6th graders.
We talked about Potter the Otter who likes to drink water. We talked about sugary drinks, how to replace sugary sodas/juices with more water and the importance of hydration.
Here’s me on stage introducing Potter the Otter to come on stage!
In addition, I also had opportunities to go to several different WIC (women, infants and children). I provided nutrition consults under supervision of an RD to pregnant women, post-partum women and moms with children under 5! We discussed the importance of breastfeeding, breastfeeding alternatives and general nutrition information according to the patient needs.
I also did a presentation on plant based diet to the whole clinic. I shared about the difference with a vegetarian vs. vegan diet.
I also talked about the 5 key nutrients to consider when being on a plant-based diet. This includes vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc.
Rotation 3: Community College Counseling (Weeks 7-8)
Alright, third rotation! I was placed at Glendale Community College. I was only able to see a total of 3 clients but two of them had follow-ups. So basically, I had 5 counseling sessions!
The main problems the community college students came in was for healthy eating tips on a budget, a grocery list, weight loss tips, physical activity and overall healthy eating.
I made some handouts to provide them! Below are two of them.
Also, RDs love their vegetables with a side of donuts. You can tell which one was touch more (donuts). I love a good bearclaw donut!
Rotation 4: Eating Disorders – Outpatient (Weeks 9-10)
I’ve worked in a residential ED treatment center for 1.5 years before starting my rotations. I actually had to leave because I had to start. I miss it so much! It taught me so many valuable skills that I will continue to build on moving forward.
I cooked and ate with my patients.
Before the meal/snack, we go around the table and have all the patients check in with their hunger cues as well as emotion. For example, “I am hungry and I’m feeling anticipatory and worried.” or “I am natural and feeling anxious.”
There’s 45 minutes to eat meals. 30 minutes for snacks. If there is any type of ED behavior such as microbiting, microcutting, eating in food groups, pushing food apart, etc – that’s behavior to redirect and correct. If the patient is eating slowly or not eating, I encourage gently but firmly to continue eating. I’m eating the exact same meal as the patient so in a way, I’m modeling appropriate eating habits!
After the meal/snack, we go around and check out with the same hunger cues and emotions.
Here’s the list of hunger cues.
Emotions! Not limited to just this list!
Also, if a patient checks out at “disgusted” you BETTTT I redirect that & encourage another emotion. “Disgusted” is not an emotion. Neither is “tired”.
Here’s a setup for breakfast. We ate at 8am so I came in at 7am to help cook and setup. We had brioche french toast w/ scrambled eggs and apples!
Rotation 5: Headstart (Weeks 11-12)
This rotation required me to stay with a friend because it’s a 2 hour drive from my house. Headstart is a program to provide early childhood education, nutrition services and counseling to children and their families.
I was mainly with an RD who went to many of the different preschools to promote eating more vegetables so we made a mac and cheese dish with cauliflower. It uses less butter than usual, cheddar cheese and incorporates cauliflower for more nutrients!
I talked to the parents about the importance of vegetables, how to incorporate veggies and introducing new foods to kids!
Not a beautiful pic, I know. I quickly snapped it.
Rotation 6: Administration (Weeks 13-15)
This rotation flew by! It was very similar to my very first rotation because I was with the Director of Nutrition again.
I was in charge of order a new ice machine for the hospital kitchen. I got in contact with the vendors, received quotes and then actually was able to place the order. I also evaluated trayline as well as the tray passers when they were passing out trays during lunch and dinner. I made sure they were double checking patient names, ensuring the correct tray is being delivered and that the patient is satisfied.
In addition, I went to daily huddles (meetings) at the mother baby care unit and intensive care unit. I represented the Director of Nutrition and reported all necessary dietary requests and info to the diet office. I love being able to be on the side of administration and see what goes on behind all the work!
Overall, there were many mini projects in this rotation that kept me busy all day long.
Rotation 7: Outpatient/Counseling (Weeks 16-17)
For the first week, I was in a small clinic and shadowing a RD in a few counseling sessions before I took over!
Counseling requires OARS – open-ended questions, affirmative, reflective listening and summarizing. Counseling is hard! Patients are not always ready to change, be guarded, talk excessively/off-topic or just don’t have time to sit and talk for long periods of time.
I enjoy counseling because I enjoy the longer periods of time I get with a client. I also like being able to follow-up with a patient (if they show up) to assess their progress. I enjoy helping them develop goals and see them motivate themselves to make healthy changes.
On one of my rotation days, I taught a class on “Merry Berries” and talked about the nutrition of berries as well as how to incorporate them into holiday recipes and meals!
In the morning, I taught a 30-minute parent class on the benefits of berries, more specifically about the nutrients and also answered any questions they had. The parents had an opportunity to make a christmas fruit tree (pictured below) and their children were able to eat it after.
In the afternoon, I taught two 15-minute children classes. I asked them about what they eat for Christmas, if they like eating berries and a short summary of why berries are delicious and healthy for them! After, the children all got samples of the fruits!
Overall, these rotations have all taught me something different.
- Not all RDs work the same way. They don’t all chart the same way. Find out how the RD you work with wants work to be done! This is a skill to help you adapt to different people you work with!
- There is so much more to what an RD does than just clinical. The experiences and opportunities almost seem endless and it’s amazing to see how this field provides that.
Whatever work you do, you make the best of your experiences through your efforts, time and perspective! Make it a fun and worthwhile experience while you’re at it! 🙂
Loved this insight! Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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