A long Way from Being in a Hospital Kitchen: 3 Insights from an RD Intern

IMG_1888The stigma of becoming a registered dietitian has come a long way from a career of those who solely worked in a hospital or a hospital kitchen.

As a student of nutrition I am constantly trying to find my footing in the vast amount of nutrition knowledge out there. As much wealth of information available, there are also areas of the field where research is scarce. Since nutrition is a relatively new science, evidence on what was once theorized as correct is constantly being overturned or reevaluated.

Finding which stance to take on specific issues often takes time to navigate through the literature, but there is nothing more valuable than experience to put facts into perspective.

Because my experience is limited thus far in my career, learning from the wisdom of those seasoned professionals in the field can be quite eye opening. Susan has been one of those figures for me, with her wealth of knowledge, expertise and many years experience in the field.

Here are the highlights from my time as an intern for Susan:

1.  Career in Private Practice

I have always considered pursuing a path as a private practice RD at some point in my dietetics career. Now I have witnessed how a career in this setting would look. I have observed Susan’s dedication and organization in running her own business, the importance of support from her husband, Jeffrey, and the details that make all the difference. One of these details is having a social media presence. For being a Millennial, I certainly lacked the characteristic technology and social media savviness typical to my generation. I now realize, that because our world is interconnected via the World Wide Web, having an online presence is crucial for opening up accessibility to people everywhere.

2.  Nutrition Knowledge

Two nutrition concepts fundamental in Susan’s practice are insulin resistance and anti-inflammatory eating. I have always promoted anti-inflammatory eating for the focus on Omega 3 fats and phytochemicals from fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, insulin resistance is not a concept that I was familiar with outside of diabetes education. Little did I know that insulin resistance is an epidemic in western society, which is linked to all conditions related to inflammation, and most diseases in general. Learning this made other pieces of my nutrition knowledge fall into place, so I now understand the bigger picture of health in our processed food and carb-obsessed world.

3.  Motivational Interviewing

As a health-professional in training, I’ve learned that communication is of utmost importance when working with people. I never wanted to be just an “advice-giver”; I yearned for a more authentic and therapeutic way to communicate with clients, rather than offering a meal plan and hoping for compliance. Then I was introduced to Motivational Interviewing at a beginner workshop led by Susan. Throughout the entire day of training I was in awe as every concept resonated. I feel fortunate for my exposure to this technique early in my career, as I am able to embark on my career while also developing this skill with a beginners mind.

If you read my first blog, you are familiar with my farm upbringing amongst organic produce, livestock, and confusing food beliefs. Surely, this had to do with my passion for food and my pursuit of a career in nutrition. However, I felt that there were gaps in my knowledge, especially regarding nutrition’s role in clinical application. This is where Susan’s long developed wisdom helped clarify my ambivalence.

Seeing nutrition’s role with new eyes offered me a fresh perspective to apply my interests towards real-life application.

I may have to do part of my internship in the hospital and hospital kitchen, but I have multiple options and now have newfound confidence in my stride moving forward.

This blog was co-written by RD Intern Kristen Procter and Susan Dopart