Shannon Oloughlin - Region 8
During my clinical setting, I had the opportunity to help plan and organize a hospital food drive with the local food bank. During this event, I worked with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee at the hospital with the CNM, the hospital marketing director and the local food bank. This was a month-long event where we had 8 cans throughout the hospital. We asked for foods that the food bank needed the most. In preparation for the event, I worked with the marketing director to create flyers to be distributed throughout the hospital and to the community. These flyers were published in the weekly roundup email, on all the TVs in the hospital and to local media stations. We also collected volunteers for our drive through event for the community food drive. Our goal was to collect 500 pounds of food, which would provide about 400 meals. I worked with the DEI committee, CNM and the finance team to coordinate an ice cream social if we met our goal. I collected and weighed the donations weekly and reported the weight to the CNM and marketing director so we could promote how close we were to our goal. During the drive through event, we had three local media outlets cover the event. At the conclusion of the event, we hosted a reveal with hospital leadership, the local food bank and the three media outlets. This event was hosted by the CEO and CNM, where they announced we collected 2.5x our goal, 1300 pounds which would create about 1100 meals for the community.
This opportunity allowed me to use my communication and organizational skills to create a successful event. I learned how to properly market the event to draw in participation and how food disparity impacted the community. I also learned the impact/importance an RD can have on an event like this to educate and help build connections within the community. Through this event, I was able to make strong connections with the local food bank and other hospital staff that were crucial to the event’s success and will be helpful in the remaining part of my rotation. I was also able to use my knowledge of nutrition to educate the hospital staff and community. This event surpassed many expectations, and its success encouraged the hospital to make it a yearly event and continue a relationship with the local food bank.
Terry Pierre - Region 3
Hello, everyone! I’m Terry, a dietetic intern in region 3 located in New York City. I am coming to the end of my internship hours this month, and it has been both a challenging and enjoyable experience. I would love to share some of my internship highlights with you.
Critical Care MNT Concentration:
One of the best parts of my internship was spending my concentration hours in the Medical ICU, Surgical ICU, and Critical Care Units. I was very nervous going into this concentration, but I went in it looking for a challenge. I wanted to hone in on all the education received during my undergraduate courses leading up to the internship, and that challenge was surely met. During this time, I was able to build my confidence in communication with doctors and adapt to constant changes and developments of the patient’s medical course. One of the most important things I learned from this rotation was learning to speak up and to advocate for patient’s needs. In the beginning of my concentration, I went in very shy, nervous, and wide eyed asking a lot of questions with a lot of uncertainty about my nutrition diagnoses and patient interventions. After a lot of time reviewing ASPEN recommendations and looking through current research, my confidence grew. By the end of my time in these units, I was being heard in IDT rounds by the doctors and my recommendations/interventions were being implemented. I can confidently say this concentration was well worth the challenge.
Food Service Management:
One of the most surprising aspects of this internship is finding out the leadership skills you hold and continuing to grow each day. Going into food service I reported to the kitchen at 6am, and it was very interesting seeing how food gets to patients’ rooms beginning with the ordering process. I was able to learn of the family community that exists in the Sodexo food service operation as patient care is rooted in the goal of the food service operation. In doing so, it is founded upon teamwork and organization to complete goals and objectives.
The best part of food service was when I was able to create an innovative product that would be placed on the menu. As it was just in time for spring, I wanted to implement a new menu item that was delicious, sweet, refreshing, and nutritious. I decided to implement a plant-based yogurt parfait that used coconut yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola. I was extremely surprised how much simple ingredients can make a huge turnout of satisfaction by many of the staff and visitors at my site. It was very rewarding to educate the customers, staff, and visitors of the benefits of choosing plant-based options and the nutritional value that it holds. Customers included many cultures and all walks of life, and they enjoyed the parfaits. Moreover, it was just in time for national nutrition month where we showed the fuel for the future. This was a very enjoyable experience!
Kailey Cologero - Region 9
During my advanced clinical rotation, I got the opportunity to participate in a career fair for middle schoolers called “Career on Wheels.” The event was held at a high school parking lot here in Fargo, ND. The setup was an outer circle of cars and a few other vehicles in the middle; it reminded me of a “trunk-or-treat” event. The students got to visit people of many different careers and learn a little about each one. They traveled around the circle of cars with a small group and a chaperone. Some of the careers featured at the event included a radio host, food truck owner, plumber, movie director, and even a funeral director.
I worked alongside the clinical nutrition manager at my clinical site to plan and execute an activity for the kids who came to visit our booth. We wanted an interactive game to get the kids excited, so we decided on the game of Plinko. We came up with over 20 questions to ask them. If they got the question right, they got to play for a chance to win a snack. Examples of questions we asked include, “What vitamin do we get from the sun?” and “What food or drink contains calcium?” To our surprise, most of the kids were really knowledgeable! We brought 800 snacks, and by the end of the day, almost all of the snacks had been won! In addition to the game, we also told the kids what being a dietitian was all about and got to learn what they all wanted to be when they grew up. Some of the kids were really interested in what we had to say, and we received some great questions. Our hope is that we inspired some kids to think about a career in nutrition and dietetics.
Sara Saiovici - Region 4
Hello current and future dietetic interns! As a fellow Sodexo intern, I am excited to share my experience with you. As of today, I have completed all of my rotations, with only a few hours of community left. Looking back on my internship experience, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities I have had to learn and grow. Each rotation presented its own unique challenges and rewards, and I have come a long way from the first day of clinical when I was told that I would be seeing my own patients in just a few weeks.
Clinical was definitely my favorite rotation. And in my staff relief, I saw up to 12 patients daily! Even though I had gained months of experience and felt more confident, my hands were still sweating before walking into a patient's room. But that's okay, it's a normal reaction to the pressure and responsibility of patient care. And now, I've developed a way to calm my nerves - a mini meditation routine. I take a few deep breaths, clear my mind, and tell myself that I've got this. It might sound silly, but it works! And if you need a mini meditation routine of your own, just let me know!
But let's talk about another important aspect of learning and growth - asking questions. I cannot stress this enough - don't be afraid to ask questions! I literally bombarded all of my preceptors with questions, and that's how I learned so much. And the great thing was, they were all more than happy to answer them. So go ahead, ask away! Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something. Asking questions is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Food service was challenging at first because it wasn't an area I was super interested in, but a shift in attitude and making the best of it really changed my experience. And even though I wasn't dealing with patients, I still found myself getting a little anxious before my shifts. That's when I would remind myself to take a deep breath and trust in my abilities.
Of course, there were also the hours spent on assignments and projects, which at times felt overwhelming. But looking back, I am grateful for every moment of it. It helped me stay up to date with the latest practices and research, and taught me so much about what I was putting into practice on a daily basis during my rotations.
Overall, my internship experience has been a rollercoaster of fun and learning! I'm beyond excited to dive deeper into this field and continue growing my knowledge. I've been pushed out of my comfort zone more times than I can count, but the payoff has been amazing! The challenges have made me stronger and more confident, and I can't wait to see where this journey takes me. To all the other dietetic interns out there, keep pushing yourself and asking questions. It's so worth it! I can’t wait to be an RD- finally!!!!
Carla Caminos - Region 10
Hello, I am Carla Caminos, and I am currently a Sodexo dietetic intern in region 10 in Houston, Texas. It is still early in my internship, and I have only completed a few rotations. The most impactful so far has been my community rotation with an educational agency in the state of Texas. This rotation was focused on community nutrition education, agriculture training, and natural resource management. The audience included adults, children, and members of the elderly community.
As an intern, I assisted in teaching classes. This ranged from preparing snacks for presentations, attending training sessions, and I was able to present educational material to middle schoolers. My overall favorite location during this rotation was a senior education center where we ran a four-week program named Walk N Talk centered around fruits and vegetables. The class commenced with a light stretch and slow movements to loosen up our arms, legs, hips, and back. We then transitioned into a 15-minute workout with a modified alternative available for those with limited mobility. This allowed everyone to participate, either standing or seated with the modified safe alternative. We then covered the fruit or vegetable for the day, providing supplemental nutritional information such as vitamins and minerals, and recapped the information discussed with an easy-to-follow handout of recipes.
I also chose the Senior Education Center to do my senior community nutrition education presentation. The audience was very engaged, and they were always happy to participate in any nutrition educational classes. Our topic was healthy substitutions; we focused on recipe alterations, such as using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, using fresh herbs to season food to reduce salt consumption, using apple sauce as an egg substitute for baked goods, using dried fruit to sweeten baked goods, and choosing low-sodium soups and no salt added or low-sodium canned vegetables. Our food demo consisted of two items: a healthy yogurt-based ranch dip/dressing and a lemon vinaigrette. The yogurt ranch was made with fresh dill, parsley, and garlic, giving it a delicious flavor. It was sampled with mini sweet peppers and baby carrots. The lemon vinaigrette was made with lemon zest, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, a small amount of fresh garlic, and olive oil, giving a delicious zesty and tangy flavor. I served it over butter lettuce, sliced radishes, yellow sweet peppers, and raw beets. We provided small samples to each participant, and some even asked for seconds. We closed with a short, but rather interactive Q&A session.
I have truly enjoyed my time here. As I move on to other rotations, I find myself thinking of all the fun I had on this rotation and how much I have learned and grown from the experience. I am excited for the next chapter in my journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian.
Jade Romatowski - Region 9
Helloooo everyone! My name is Jade Romatowski and I am from Region 9W, or the Midwest! I am from Wisconsin, better known as the “cheese state.” I am currently in my community rotation at a WIC facility, which I enjoy so much! Providing nutrition education for young mothers, infants, and little kiddos has been a “blast” to say in layman’s terms.
I began my internship in a hospital near Minneapolis, where I had the opportunity to see and be a part of so many unique experiences. This is where I tell you that if you get queasy easy, watching a PEG tube placement is not for you. Anyways, I spent a great deal of time in their ICU, where I was challenged by the high acuity nature. One of the best memories I had was being able to have a conversation face-to-face with a patient who was on the ventilator and receiving nutrition support previously. To know that the regimen I recommended helped foster his recovery was exhilarating.
Following the clinical rotation, I moved back to Wisconsin and couch surfed at my sister’s house, where I completed a rotation at an industrial site. This was quite a change of pace from the clinical setting, as I was required to wear a bump cap, steel toe shoes, gloves, and safety glasses. For anyone who is not sure what a bump cap is, it is a hard insert added in a standard baseball cap that protected my head in case something dropped from the sky or something. It was such a cool environment, and I was so blessed to be able to work in that type of setting.
Here are some invaluable lessons that I have learned in my rotations:
TOri Magana - Region 12
Hello fellow and future Sodexo interns! My name is Victoria, but I go by Tori. I live in California and am very grateful that all my rotations have been close to home. I am in my last few weeks of the internship, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned and experienced over the last 8 months! I know everyone talks about how scary and intimidating the clinical rotation can be, but I personally loved my time at the hospital. I was able to complete my clinical rotation at the same hospital that I worked as a nutrition assistant for 7.5 years. My concentration was critical care and I worked with several incredible preceptors in the ICU for 5 weeks. Here’s a little idea of what a day working in the ICU was like for me:
As you can see, it’s a long day, but my biggest advice is to make time for yourself. I know it’s difficult when you feel like you have a million things to do but make an organized schedule and try to stick to it the best you can. This will help you stay organized and allow yourself some fun and some time to unwind. Hang in there! It’ll be worth it sooner than you think!
lANDON rOdGERS - rEGION 7
This week was Global Nutrition Week at one of the local elementary schools and we highlighted pineapple with a recipe tasting and handouts!
The overall goal of GNW is to expose kids to diverse backgrounds to become more culturally competent. Cultural competence is crucial in nutrition because culture greatly shapes our food choices, eating habits, and health beliefs. Competence allows everyone to work more effectively and understand people from diverse backgrounds. Teaching children to be culturally competent teaches them that different cultures have unique dietary patterns, which impact their overall health differently. This also helps them understand that cultural beliefs influence food choices and attitudes about nutrition and why some cultures associate certain foods with significance. Cultural competence helps increase their health literacy and ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information.
Aya Mustafa - Region 4
Hi! My name is Aya, and I am a Sodexo dietetic intern from region 4 based in NJ. I completed my internship hours last week and have a lot to reflect on, so I would love to share some key takeaways from my experience!
Sodexo’s internship exceeded my expectations in so many different ways. You’re going to learn and experience so much! You’ll meet so many wonderful people that are truly invested in seeing you become a successful RDN! Enjoy every moment! You got this!
Madison Locke - Region 7
Hi! My name is Madison Locke, and I’m from region 7 based in Charleston, SC. With only a few weeks left, I’ve had a bunch of diverse experiences over the past few months that have helped me learn and grow within this wonderful profession.
I have worked with over 15 preceptors in different areas of the dietetics field. Some rotations were fascinating, some were tedious, some felt like a natural fit, and some pushed me out of my comfort zone. To say the least, it is easy to become flustered throughout this process.
Today, I wanted to share my secret behind staying out of the blues and achieving success as an intern in hopes of helping future interns or my fellow classmates who are working through the last leg of the internship. I found that adopting and maintaining a positive and open-minded mentality has enhanced my experience and allowed me to absorb all the knowledge and skills this internship offers.
Here are my personal tips for staying optimistic throughout the dietetic internship!
The first is to ditch assumptions about rotations. Setting preconceived expectations about the experience can falter curiosity and led to disappointment. Instead, go in with zero expectations and decide for yourself how your experience will play out. You may end up loving something you never thought you would!
My second tip is to shift your prescriptive if you find yourself not loving a rotation. Instead of thinking “I will never work in this area,” shift your perspective and think, “This experience is helping me discover what area of dietetics I’m truly passionate about.” There is always invaluable information to learn about dietetics or yourself in every experience!
Making these small adjustments in mindset set me up for an overall enjoyable and educational internship experience, and I hope it will do the same for you! Good luck!