Get The Slender Student Mentioned on ABC Family!

Slender Students,

Once again, I’m going to need your help! I’m a contestant on ABC Family’s Young & Hungry Blogger Challenge. Young & Hungry is a new show based on the real life food blogger, Gabi Moskowitz/BrokeAssGourmet. It’s packed with some major stars– Emily Osment and Ashley Tisdale. Kewl.

Anyway, the Blogger Challenge includes six challenges over the course of two weeks and I’ll need YOUR votes after each challenge to get a shoutout on the show! The peeps over at ABC Family sent me a mystery picnic basket of items and are releasing the challenges one at a time. I’ll be sharing my responses with you all as the challenges come along, so be on the lookout! Based on the basket, this should be a pretty interesting couple of weeks…

Today, our first challenge is to share our number one piece of cooking advice. Pictured below is mine, and it’s one I’ve learned firsthand. VOTE HERE!

PS You can vote EVERYDAY from each of your different devices– phone, tablet, laptop/computer, etc.

VOTE to get The Slender Student mentioned on ABC Family!

So You Want To Be A Registered Dietitian: Part 4

Reflections from the road to becoming a registered dietitian! | The Slender Student

For many interns, the clinical rotation is the holy grail of the dietetic internship. It’s the time in which we put those long semesters spent in biochemistry, physiology, and medical nutrition therapy to use.  And, since many dietitians enter the workforce in the clinical arena, it’s a great opportunity to gain both work experience and valuable connections.

While I was excited to start my 8-week clinical rotation, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. By the time my first day rolled around, I’d only made it halfway through the Scrubs series on Netflix, and I hadn’t even started to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy. How was I supposed to know how a hospital worked?! Within 5 days of walking into my hospital placement, though, I had a firm base level of knowledge and a decided level of comfort.

I spent my first couple of days shadowing my preceptor(s) but, after that, I was seeing patients on my own. My preceptors were always there to answer questions, work through complicated cases, and co-sign notes, but it’s one of those swim or swim type of things. You will learn most efficiently from your own experiences, so it’s best to start gaining them right away. Then, if and when you mess up (spoiler alert: you will mess up), your preceptor is there to help steer you in the right direction.

Most people, including my pre-internship self, don’t have a good grasp of what the role of a clinical dietitian entails. When asked, I give the following spiel:

Every patient who enters the hospitals where I interned received a nutrition risk score from 0 through 4 based on their answers to questions regarding appetite, unintentional weight loss, current BMI, etc. Their score decided how quickly and how often they needed to be seen by a dietitian.

The ensuing dietetic consultations varied based on the patients’ needs. For example, a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic will need education on how to regulate his or her blood glucose through diet. Someone who just started chemotherapy and has lost his or her appetite could benefit from a high calorie, high protein supplement, and some tips for increasing intake upon discharge. Some patients will be eager to learn and improve their health; some patients will only tell you how much they hated last night’s baked chicken; some patients will show absolutely no interest in anything you have to say.

While I mentioned my more philosophical takeaways from my foodservice rotation, the overarching lessons I learned following clinical had more to do with the job itself. From what I observed and experienced, I’ve come to believe that complacency is the enemy of the clinical dietitian. Despite all of the interactions I mentioned above, there were times when things felt monotonous. When you see anywhere from 5 to 15 patients a day, everything begins to run together. And while the role is expanding, dietitians are still fairly limited by what they can do autonomously in the clinical setting. For example, only recently were dietitians granted the ability to independently prescribe therapeutic diets without MD approval. It takes someone who is motivated, confident, and knowledgeable to connect with and earn the respect of doctors, nurses, and other specialists. It is these individuals whose notes are read and followed. And, from what I’ve gathered, it is these individuals who most positively impact their patients and enjoy their jobs the most.

This likely goes without saying, but all of the views I’ve expressed are mine alone. That being said, I’d love to hear from you all about your experiences during your internships or careers. And, as always, please feel free to leave any questions in a comment below!

May Things

Guys, it’s been awhile since we’ve done a Things post. Last semester has felt like an absolute whirlwind as I adjusted from being a regular college student to an official dietetic intern. Since January, I’ve interned at a campus dining hall, within the UT Nutrition/Dietetics department, and at two hospitals. To be honest, though, that doesn’t really tell the whole story.

Let’s talk about May things.

1. I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin. May Things | The Slender Student

2. I got a job!!! I will be moving back to Houston in August to begin my role as the Registered Dietitian/Marketing Coordinator for Snap Kitchen. (omgomgomg) May Things | The Slender Student

3. To reflect the above changes, I started a new website, The Petite Professional, that will launch in early September.

I think that’s a sufficient amount of excitement for one Things post, so I’m going to leave it at that. Here’s to the rest of the summer holding just as much promise as I enter the final phase of my dietetic internship and prepare for the real world!

So You Want To Be A Registered Dietitian: Part 3

Since I just wrapped up my spring dietetic internship rotations, I thought it was high time for the next installment of the So You Want To Be A Registered Dietitian series. In Part 1 I explain the route from high school grad to RD, and Part 2 covers the beginning of my experience in a Coordinated Program, before I officially started my internship. Today I’ll begin to give y’all the nitty gritty of my first dietetic internship rotation– foodservice. Reflections from the road to becoming a registered dietitian! | The Slender Student

First, let’s talk a little bit about foodservice rotations in general. While I got placed at a college dorm dining hall (I don’t think I need to explain my preference there), other interns in my Coordinated Program worked in grade schools, retirement homes, and even a facility where clinical trials took place. And though some work in the kitchen is often required in order to understand the full scope of the facility, the rotation is primarily to see the managerial side of foodservice. Many registered dietitians don’t go on to become foodservice managers but work together with them, so it’s important to understand the functions of the role from the ground up.

For my 6-week foodservice rotation, I was placed at Kinsolving Dining Hall, an all-you-care-to-eat dorm dining hall at the University of Texas. Kins serves nearly 2,000 meals everyday and employs 100-120 people. Working with the facility’s manager, I got to see all the ins and outs of purchasing/procurement, forecasting, inventory analysis, safety/sanitation, hiring, employee discipline, recipe testing and development, and promotional marketing. For the most part, the staff at Kinsolving (especially in the kitchen) has been working there a long time, so it was fairly intimidating for me to walk in there as a completely inexperienced 22-year-old and assume a managerial role. Some of my assignments included giving equipment training and teaching in-services, both of which I went into with a degree of trepidation because, let’s be honest, what do I know that these people haven’t been doing for years? Completing those assignments cemented a few ideas for me that I’ll carry through the rest of my life, professionally and socially:

1) Fake it until you make it. Confidence, even if it’s feigned, is absolutely key to communicating your message and gaining the respect of others.

2) Nothing is as scary as the anticipation beforehand. I spent a lot of afternoons at Kins thinking about how I’d be perceived by the kitchen staff when I went to go do my in-service or trainings. I thought they’d look at me like I was some punk kid coming in to teach them something I knew nothing about. Fortunately, the exact opposite was true. I was treated me with such warmth, kindness, and respect. Not only did they want me to succeed, but they were open to the possibility of being able to learn something new from me.

3) Jump right in with both feet and see how successful you will be. I truly believe that the best way to learn is through experience, so skip all the wasted energy being anxious or fearful of something and just do it. I promise you’ll come out the other end alive and, most likely, accomplished. And, hey, even if you’re a total flop, there’s something to be learned from that experience too.

In between learning all those life-changing lessons, I did do some more mundane tasks such as completing food production records (i.e. how many servings of chicken parmesan were made, served, and leftover), helped do the weekly inventory (i.e. counted boxes of veggie burgers in the -1° freezer for 2+ hours), took the temperature of the dishes being served to ensure food safety, sat in on employee disciplinary sessions, helped interview potential student hires, and I even slapped on a hairnet on more than a few occasions to serve on the line.

The final high point for me was completing the new recipe assignment. UT Dining Services is growing increasingly health conscious, with a big push to become more vegetarian- and vegan-friendly through the incorporation of Meatless Mondays in the dining halls. When my preceptor told me that they were always looking for more vegan entrées, I knew exactly where to go for inspiration– Austin food blogger Love and Lemons. I stumbled upon Jeanine’s recipe for Vegan Sweet Potato Alfredo and, with a few cost-effective ingredient swaps, we had a new recipe to put on the line. The recipe received high praise and I was able to walk away from the experience like I’d been able to give something back. Vegan Sweet Potato Alfredo | The Slender Student

Please let me know if you have any further questions about the foodservice portion of the dietetic internship. Next in the series will be an overview of my administrative and clinical rotations!