Hi everyone! My name is Stephen Vaccarello, and I am an intern from Region 1 right outside of Boston, MA. Being a part of this program is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but it is also one of the most rewarding. I have met so many different people from cooks, nurses, doctors, managers, outpatient staff (both frontline and support) and most importantly patients. I have never felt more rewarded during my clinical rotation working when talking with and educating patients and working with patients in the Critical Care Unit.
At first, I felt overwhelmed, even by the time I was approaching advanced clinical as these patients were in a whole different league compared to floor patients. With the help of my preceptors, I was able to learn quickly, and when these patients improved, I could not help but keep a smile.
I would say that if you have not been exposed to the hospital setting, then applying for a diet tech position even for a summer before you start will help. You may be more on the food service side, but you will learn hospital operations as time goes on and can work with dietitians if they would allow it. I worked as a diet tech in a skilled nursing facility and at an acute rehab hospital and that experience was invaluable going into the internship. Simply learning how to talk to patients, nurses, even doctors at times is a skill that can only improve over time, and this experience could help you during the rotations.
A couple tips I would give would be to stay organized, and to ask for help when you need it. Staying organized will help you break down assignments and their due dates and to manage the workload. Asking for help was one of my weaknesses and something I am still working on. Whenever you have a question, it is always better to ask than to go ahead and continue. If you don’t ask, then you may have to redo parts of the assessment or another project.
To conclude this program is difficult, but the more work you put in, the more you get out of it. Stand up for yourself and remember this is a learning experience. You will have tough days but by the end you will be rocking your rotations! Good Luck!
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!
Hi all! My name is Mohammad, and I am a region 8 intern based in Tallahassee, Florida. I started my internship in September 2022. I am beyond grateful to be a part of the Sodexo Dietetic Internship. This past September, I had the pleasure of attending orientation in Gaithersburg, where I got to know fellow interns in my cohort and the team of internship directors. Then, I arrived in Tallahassee feeling much more prepared to start my internship.
My clinical rotation was at a 772-bed level 2 trauma center, which I loved. My responsibility as an intern was to provide critical care to a diverse patient population who had sustained severe injuries or were suffering from acute illnesses. I collaborated with the interdisciplinary team to develop and implement nutrition care plans for ICU patients requiring EN and PN support. I conducted NFPE to assess diverse patient populations’ nutritional status and identify signs of malnutrition. I also conducted nutrition assessments, planned interventions, monitored the effectiveness of interventions, and got a lot of practice charting in the EMR. One of my clinical rotation highlights was working with a patient struggling to manage type-1 diabetes. The patient had been recently diagnosed and had difficulty adjusting to their new dietary requirements. Through our sessions, I educated the patient on the importance of monitoring their carbohydrate intake and incorporating more whole foods into their diet. We worked together to create a meal plan that was both delicious and nutritious, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates.
As the weeks progressed, the patient began to see improvements in their blood sugar levels and overall health. They expressed their gratitude for the support and guidance I provided during our sessions, which was incredibly rewarding for me as an intern. This rotation completely exceeded my expectations. My preceptor was phenomenal; he taught me so much and allowed me to experience first-hand how the RD plays a vital leadership role in enhancing the quality of life of the patients in the hospital.
I have the unique opportunity to tailor a part of my internship to my future goals and the area of dietetics I am deeply passionate about. The management concentration has allowed me to gain practical experience in managing nutrition services in a healthcare setting, develop leadership skills, and understand the intricacies of providing nutrition care to diverse populations. Completing this rotation provided me with a solid foundation for a career in dietetics, particularly in management roles within healthcare organizations, food service establishments, and community nutrition programs. As I move forward in my career, I can reflect on the valuable experiences, knowledge, and skills I gained during this rotation and apply them to my future practice as a registered dietitian.
One tip for future interns, imagine you are a detective on a mission to solve a mystery - the mystery of your patient's health condition. Every day in the clinical rotation, you will gather clues by talking to your patients, reviewing their medical records and lab reports, and working with the healthcare team. Your job is to piece together these clues to create a comprehensive picture of your patient's health and develop a plan to help them improve their nutrition status. So, put on your detective hat, grab your notepad, and get ready to solve the mystery of your patient's health. By embracing your inner nutrition detective, you'll approach your clinical rotation with a sense of adventure and excitement, and you'll be well on your way to becoming a confident and competent dietitian.
Throughout my dietetic internship with Sodexo, I have had many positive experiences and interactions. I think that the most encouraging thing that I have gained through many of my experiences has been the confirmation that people are genuinely interested in nutrition and influenced by what you have to say as a dietetic intern. I know going into my rotations I was skeptical about whether or not patients would really appreciate what I had to say, or whether those who I gave presentations to would actually take my considerations to heart, but I was pleasantly surprised at the warm feedback I have received.
One of the most rewarding examples that I have had has got to be by far when I gave my children’s community presentation. I did my presentation back home at my local elementary school. I also used to substitute teach there for a couple years, so I was very familiar with many of the students and teachers, which made it easy to organize and a lot less intimidating. I gave the presentation assembly-style to about 200 students grades K-5th about water and staying hydrated during the summer. It was such a fun time being able to talk to the kids and get them engaged in the conversation through a fun little activity and answering some of the great questions they came up with. I had teachers texting me and coming up to me for days after I had given the presentation telling me how informative the presentation was and that they even learned a lot. Parents would also come up and tell me that their kids were carrying their water bottles with them everywhere now or informing their parents they had to drink more water. As I continue through my internship, I hope to gain more positive experiences like this one and express my passion for nutrition and assisting in furthering others understanding in how it can impact their health.
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.
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!
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.
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!!!!
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.
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: