The Sodexo Dietetic Internship has provided me with a unique opportunity to complete my rotations in multiple locations across the United States. I completed my clinical and critical care concentration rotations in Massachusetts, fulfilled my requirements for community hours in Florida, and will soon be off to New York to start my food service rotation.
This internship has taught me that dietitians not only play a critical role as a member of the interdisciplinary care team in clinical settings but should also immerse themselves in the community and take initiative to promote nutrition.
For example, I had a unique opportunity to host a children’s community presentation at an afterschool tutoring program in FL. The elementary students were primarily from low-middle class families, whose parents are immigrants from South America. The children were not familiar with the importance of whole grains, and therefore, I recognized that keeping them engaged would not be an easy task. So, I used visual props, such as a whole grain plush pillow, whole grain clue signs, and various food items, to capture their attention and interest in the lesson. I also created a Whole Grain Detective activity where students could use magnifying glasses to find as many whole grain food indicators as they could in an interactive puzzle. At the end of the presentation, it was rewarding to see the students’ excitement to take their magnifying glasses home to look for the whole grain clues on food items in their pantries.
Another opportunity I had to serve the community was to hold an education table at the Dorchester Parade. Given its prior success with the elementary school students, I decided to continue with the whole grain theme at this event as well. I provided whole grain handouts, discussed their health benefits, and offered whole grain activities for children to participate in to test their nutrition knowledge. I am proud to say that I independently represented the nutrition department as a dietetic intern and increased community engagement through this event.
Through these experiences, I have learned what it means to actively participate in the communities that I am a part of. Whether through educational sessions on diabetic diets for newly diagnosed, hospitalized diabetic patients or teaching first graders how to search for whole grain stamps, I’m confident that I’m able to make an impact in my community. Lastly, I am thankful to the preceptors and mentors that have helped me gain confidence in my abilities and clinical judgement along the way. Even as dietetic interns, we are the experts in this field of nutrition and can make a difference!