Nutrition In yoU: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

I don’t think anyone could have predicted a year ago where we are today. With so much happening in the world today, I decided to make my final post as an Nutrition In yoU blog contributor a reflection of my experience as a dietetic intern over the last year, as well as what comes next for me. 

One year ago, I was getting ready to start my food service internship with the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Although most interns at NIU complete their food service rotation in the campus dining halls, I was fortunate enough to be the culinary intern at Miller Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin. During my time there, I worked alongside several talented chefs and I learned the food service is so much more than inventory and standardized recipes. It’s about building relationships and developing managerial skills in delivering food services. This valuable experience sparked my desire to work in school food service as a future career, in order to provide affordable, nutritious meals for children. I am thankful for the skills I learned during my food service rotation and I sincerely hope that there will be a Major League Baseball season so that the talented food service staff can run their impressive operations this year. 

In the spring semester, I completed my lifecycle rotation, working with populations from infants to elderly. I have previous experience working with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in Wisconsin and Alaska. During my WIC rotation through NIU I gained more experience providing nutrition counseling working with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Additionally, I filled a need by providing physical activity and nutrition education to children through the CATCH program at an elementary school in Sycamore. Simultaneously, I met with three community members each week at the NIU Recreation Center, providing nutrition counseling to help them achieve their health and wellness goals. This was my favorite part of the lifecycle rotation because I enjoyed helping my clients overcome barriers and watching them achieve their goals each week. Finally, I spent two weeks at Oak Crest – DeKalb Area Retirement Center conducting nutrition assessments and providing nutrition education for senior residents. Each opportunity provided a unique experience to gain hands on experience and learn about varying nutrition requirements throughout the lifecycle. 

Uncertainty of the future has become a familiar feeling over the past few weeks. However, as my co-contributor, Megan, mentioned in last week’s post, the 2020 class of dietetic interns remains committed to our ultimate goal of becoming Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. Currently, RDNs are working alongside doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to serve patients and community members during COVID-19. Whether that is providing shopping tips to minimize trips to the grocery store or providing tube feeding formulas and schedules to patients on ventilators who are unable to eat orally, RDNs have become even more essential during this pandemic. On Monday, I will begin my clinical rotation at Ascension Hospital in Brookfield, Wisconsin to learn more about providing medical nutrition therapy in a clinical setting. I have no doubt that this rotation will look much different compared to the dietetic interns last year. However, I look forward to joining the medical professional community and contributing my nutrition expertise in order to provide the best patient care possible. 

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