Nutrition In yoU: What it takes to be a Dietetic Intern

Dietetic Intern, Megan Farris, serves samples of Arugula and Beet salad during lunch to students at Mooseheart School in February of 2020.

It is the end of the semester. It is also the end of my time as a contributor to the Nutrition In yoU blog. It has taken me a while to decide what topic would best serve this final entry of mine. So much has changed since this semester started. It is hard to reflect upon how it will impact our lives in the future since we are still in the middle of the unknown. With the effects of COVID-19 impacting our meat-processing factories, there are rumors the food supply chain may be breaking and what it means for the average consumer. My co-contributor, Jackie, wrote a great piece this past fall on Meatless Mondays and then another piece this semester on Cooking with Pantry Staples. I recently wrote a piece on Nutrition on a Budget, another on Stress Eating, and one on Healthy Ways to Shake the Winter Blues. These have been popular topics among our clients, family, and friends. I hope they will serve you as you face whatever comes next.

When we began contributing to this blog last fall, we started by giving you a glimpse into what it takes to be a Dietetic Intern at NIU. Through all of the changes this current situation has thrown our way, we’ve adapted and persevered. We’ve remained Dietetic Interns committed to achieving our ultimate goal: to become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in order to serve others. Things are not ideal right now, but we move forward.

We have all been working on our coursework from home. For me that means balancing a research Graduate Assistant position, full-time coursework, a thesis, an internship as a Nutrition Counselor at NIU’s Rec, a marriage, a house, a dog, and a two-year old. My days are incredibly long, and the workload and care of others is relentless. I try to heed my own nutrition and wellness advice as best I can; some days are better than others. Others in my cohort moved back with their parents and are completing projects, seeing clients, and giving presentations from their childhood bedrooms and kitchen tables via online platforms. We do what we must. Some of my cohort have been able to continue on-sight rotations with our partnered long-term care facility and are experiencing what it is like to work with an at-risk population during one of the darkest times in our country’s history. Others are in impacted by the reality the food service industry is currently facing and managed to complete their food service management rotations with facilities that were forced to close. The adversity we’ve faced and most likely, will continue to face, is not ours alone. Every student, every household, every medical care professional, every American has been affected by the current situation. We could choose to wallow in our own pitiful situation and focus on the opportunities we’ve lost, or we could take this for what it is and grow from it.

We started this academic year with a glimpse into what it takes to be a Dietetic Intern. I realize this now, more than ever: it takes guts. It takes brains. It takes a relentless pursuit of an ultimate goal to help others achieve the best quality of life possible through nutrition. This is not easy, but I hear it is worth it.

Megan Farris has a B.S. in Nutrition, Health, and Wellness from NIU and is an NIU Dietetic Intern and a 2020 M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics candidate.

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