medical

Weeks 29 – 36: The FINAL 8 in School Nutrition Management

Well, it’s been a long road, but I can finally say with pride rivaled only by exhaustion that I have COMPLETED my dietetic internship!

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School nutrition management was my final rotation, and it was an experience unlike most of the others. Something I enjoyed was getting to work with a team of managers who worked in non-nutrition disciplines. For most of my 8 weeks, I spent time with our Food Service Director, a Manager in Training, our Associate Director, and worked closely with our head chef and catering manager as well. My rotation took place at San Francisco State University.  As I may have explained in previous posts, my internship was completed (love putting that in the PAST TENSE!) through Morrison Chartwells, a subset of Compass Group. Compass Group has a multitude of sectors, which provide food and nutrition services to establishments from hospitals, to schools, to business and industry settings. Morrison is the sector of Compass that serves healthcare establishments, which is where I did my clinical rotations. Chartwells is the sector that serves schools (and Chartwells Higher Ed, to further categorize, serves college campuses). My experience was unique in that I was working with Chartwells Higher Education, which works on college campuses – most other interns in my program were rotating in K-12 Chartwells accounts.

 

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Now that that’s out of the way….

 

My school nutrition rotation taught me a lot about management, and working with a team in which you are often the sole nutrition representative. I did have the opportunity to work with the Regional RD, Laura, who oversees Chartwells Higher Ed accounts. However, this was a long distance relationship, and  Laura did not have a scheduled trip out to SFSU during my time there. She was always available by phone and email, and was a large part of my learning experience in this rotation. Not having an RD present at the site on a daily basis taught me many times over to be proactive and independent.

Chartwells at SFSU incorporates a concept called Balanced Kitchen, which I was so excited to be a part of. Balanced Kitchen focuses on wellness on college campuses. At one point, I conducted an audit to ensure the dining center was meeting the wellness criteria for this concept – and our SF State champs did very well! I remember being a freshman in college, and staying well with healthy foods was such a challenge. It is great to see higher education moving in a direction that promotes the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

 

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Some of the criteria for Balanced Kitchen (aka Balanced U), and what the dining center strives to promote.

 

This was a project-centered rotation. In these 8 weeks, I think I completed upwards of 10 projects – and all of them took some serious time commitment! Some highlights:

 National Nutrition Month Activities:

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Me, beaming in the presence of my food models. Typical.

 

Nutrition Educations:

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Weird shadow on my face… But here I am giving a lesson on eating local and seasonally. My favorite educational tool right now is my local foods wheel. Ask me where you can find one!

 

Participation in Sustainability and Real Food Events:

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IMG_7790 A real local food-focused event!

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Put on a Farmer’s Market

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Enjoyed soo much delicious local produce.

 

Stress Reduction Fair:

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Focused on how to use good nutrition to keep stress in check! So much fun talking to students – and I met someone I’ve communicated with in the blog world! Amazing.

 

and Staff Trainings, and Food Service & Sanitation Audits (not pictured, because not that exciting – bein’ honest, folks).

 

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By the end of my rotation, I had made some strong connections with Compass employees at SF State, and I feel this rotation was the best opportunity to get to know some of the higher-ups who work for corporate! Getting to know some of the big wigs who manage entire regions was not only inspiring, but also allowed me to make an impression, shake some hands, and learn more about Compass as a whole.

 

As this blog is about honesty, I don’t want to leave out how much I struggled to get through this last rotation. With 8 weeks standing between me and RD eligibility, the to do list seemed forever impending. It’s not that the rotation was extremely challenging – I have been SO grateful to be done with clinical, and the stress level was NOT THE SAME here. But I did feel often paralyzed when I looked down at the list of projects to complete, and it even took me a few weeks to get started on some. But as of posting this, my assignments are COMPLETE, and I am awaiting the OK to sign up for my RD board exam (eeek!). This is a good reminder for me that it will all get done if I work toward it, but I have to remember to stay calm, get focused and organized, and just keep moving forward.

 

Well, folks, that wraps it up! Thank you to everyone who continued reading through my experience! I hope I was able to shed some light on the experience of dietetic internships for those of you embarking on this path. If you have questions, or just want to let me know how I’m doing (or how YOU are doing), please drop me a line below, or shoot an email over to thenourishedsoulblog@gmail.com.

 

This may be the end of my 1240+ supervised practice hours, but don’t you worry – there is still plenty of living, studying, and trying not to have panic attacks that I’ll be continuing to write about. Stay tuned, beautiful people! The best is yet to come over here.<3

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The Power of Food Over Supplements!

This past month has been a special challenge. At work, we have seen rapid weight loss in so many of our patients. Naturally, I starting questioning: What is the variable in this situation? Well, isn’t the variable me? Aren’t I the one who took over, only to see insidious weight loss happening before my eyes? Could it be possible that there is a direct correlation between me accepting the title of Dietary Services Director, and weight just falling off of some of my most frail residents?

And then I stopped the self-interrogation, and tried to determine what was actually the cause of this. With my wonderful interdisciplinary team, I began to brainstorm. Something I have come to believe is that food should always be first when trying to improve nutritional status. Supplements are great for certain circumstances. However, most people get just what they need through a healthy, well-rounded, balanced and moderate diet. So, my team and I began to wonder… if this is our mind set, why are we handing out Mighty Shakes and Med Pass (high protein supplements) like they’re M&Ms on the 31st of October? And so we looked at our residents with significant weight losses, and looked at how many of them were on these food-replacements. The numbers were astounding. But what was even more astounding was seeing how many of these little cartons of artificial calories were going to waste every single day, since clearly, as evidenced by the weight losses, they were not being consumed.

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The team decided we needed a game plan. We live in a country where one of our biggest health problems is a direct result of too many calorie dense foods; why are we providing supplements when we have an abundance of energy just waiting to be consumed right inside my giant walk-in fridge. And so we made a choice—for some people, these shakes are working. However, this long list of significant losses shows that for many, they’re not. So for those who are not benefitting, let’s recommend fortified diets, and/or snacks between meals, and see how things go.

………….. 2 weeks or so later……….. I bet you’re all on the edge of your set now…….

I received our list of weekly weights this morning upon arrival to work…….. ONE undesirable significant weight loss. And even that one was a slowed weight loss, showing much better results than in weeks prior. Not only did we not see weight losses in residents we usually expect to whither away, but I saw more weight GAINS on that list than I have seen the entire 4 months I’ve been at this facility.

So, moral of this story is, choose FOOD over SUPPLEMENTS. I know most Tumblers tend to be perusing the site for tips on how to LOSE weight, but the idea here is the same. Treat your body right, with the nutrients it was meant to break down, and beautiful results will come of it. Don’t expect it overnight, but stick with it. Your body will thank you for it!