This summer I was given two amazing opportunities to further my education and gain experience alongside Registered Dietitians in different fields. While searching for internships in NUTR 391, the dietitian I first spoke with was unable to provide me with all 300 hours, however I was still very interested in her position. To make this work, I decided to split my hours between two different sites. I was put in touch with one of my preceptors via a networking connection of Mrs. Kelly, while I found my other preceptor through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics member archive. I cannot explain how thrilled I am to have completed two internships- I ended up with two very different experiences that will follow me into my professional career.
My first 150 hours were spent at the Hollidaysburg Area School District with their food services director, a Registered Dietitian who oversees the National School Lunch Program, National School Breakfast Program, and Summer Lunch Program. This position required a strong knowledge of community nutrition and nutrition education, as well as skills In hospitality management and business. This field was challenging but rewarding, and it was great to see a dietitian to have a voice in the health of kids in schools.
I spent the second half of my summer at the Presbyterian Village at Hollidaysburg, a continuing care facility that provides independent living, personal care, long-term care, and rehabilitation for elderly individuals. This highly clinical position differed greatly from my first internship as it very directly applied nutrition assessment and higher-level nutrition classes. In this setting, I was able to assist my preceptor with specialized diets, food preference interviews, and monitor patients’ intakes and weight status. It was awesome to work with the clinical team, interdisciplinary staff, and families of residents to provide the best possible patient care in every case.
My Advanced Field Experience in Nutrition was more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. I was able to gain understanding of two very different fields and discover my strengths as well as areas I intend to focus on for improvement. More than anything else, however, I learned what I do and do not like about different career paths. My best advice for students entering into this field experience is to keep an open mind about different sites- you may be surprised where you have strong interests!
Written by: Kristen Allen