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Monday, November 4, 2013

Tell Me What You Eat

DIETETIC INTERNSHIP: Weeks 31, 32 & 35 (of 41)
Foodservice Systems:  Weeks 31 - 32
Culinary : Week 35

Where do Registered Dietitian’s work?  As of Oct 2013, there are approximately 89,000 RDs in the US and abroad, the vast majority of which (~70%) are employed in a clinical field (healthcare in hospitals, long-term care facilities, etc).  The other main RD fields are foodservice systems, and school foodservice.  Research and community dietetics round out the list.  Unquestionably, the preponderance of public opinion associates RDs commonly with “food” only despite its low occupancy.

     As soon as I utter the words “Dietitian,” most people:
             a) pat their belly or hips, grumbling out regrets regarding dietary intake;
             b) recall what was consumed at the last several meals; and/or
             c) silently, yet assuredly, bring food and weight to mind.
     It has not taken long to recognize this repeating response. :( 

Careers as an RD: 

Foodservice Systems:  Weeks 31 - 32
Even though working in foodservice systems is not my preferred future employment, it is a necessary part of a Registered Dietitian’s knowledge bank.  After a two week rotation, fellow Dietetic Intern Nick & I delivered a 2-hour comprehensive/interactive presentation that reported on many projects, ~20 ranging from food waste versus consumption (for a particular meal item served with a particular meal) to designing a special theme meal within budget and nutrition requirements.  It was an intimate presentation only occupied by individuals who directly derive their daily responsibilities from the hospital kitchen.  Line supervisors, managers, 2 RDs, and the Nutrition Chief.  This work area does not inspire or thrill me, but gave me much reflection as questions arose.  Specifically, I had such strong thoughts while reporting on someone’s livelihood and life work.  Some of the line managers had celebrated their 20th work anniversary, with powerful dedication to the field.  Yet I, an Intern with little passion for the field, delivered such specific results that were to be used in performance reviews and changes to operation.  It was a humbling reminder of respect to these individuals, and to those who derive passion for areas that I do not love.

Culinary : Week 35
Finally, during our Culinary week rotation with the Memphis VA Chef Johnson, we personally prepared and cooked every onion slice, seared every steak, and sliced every strawberry quarter.  The VA system has only one employed Chef that is a culinary school graduate, who conveniently is employed at the Memphis VAMC.  He was also an Army Ranger, and has good knife skills.  I took heed.  With him, Nick & I learned how to use professional, high quantity food equipment, such as a tilt skillet, steam-jacketed kettle, Combi-oven, and what it feels like to drop a #10 can (that weighs ~7 lbs) on my pinky finger.  (It hurts and bruises.)  One morning, I personally made homemade Shepherd’s Pie, from scratch, for 240 servings (~11 hotel pans).  The entire day I smelled like seasoned ground turkey.  The mashed potatoes were piped onto the dish using a pastry bag, too; my forearms and hands were on fire from the hot potatoes and muscle burn!

Tray card on each delivered patient meal tray
          Teaching aside, it was time for our themed meal:
                           Here Comes Summer!

Hairnet'ed Jessie, Chef Johnson, & Nick

We made our own steak seasoning, then seared, sliced, and presented.  We sliced, mixed and grilled onions and bell peppers.  We hand sliced every single cucumber and tomato, carefully making a red wine vinegar salad marinade.  Strawberries were hulled, quartered, and dressed with a whipped cream swirl.  Steaming corn on the cob dressed the plate with a pop of yellow.  Then we supervised the plating of the meal…  over 200 servings.  Thankfully, we were not responsible for this individually!  Finally, we interviewed patients on meal satisfaction and conducted Plate Waste Surveys.  All in all, it was a success, and the Veterans enjoyed the summer grilling theme! (The goal!)  Seasoned & grilled Flat iron steak over sauteed bell peppers and onions, Corn on the cob, Whole wheat roll, Cucumber & tomato salad, Fresh strawberries with whipped cream, Ice cream sandwich, and Iced tea

Ultimately, I love cooking, but not necessarily for +200 people.  The smell of sauteing onions and peppers is divine, but I do not prefer eau de ground meat.  I do not wish to be a Chef, but I do like analyzing thcooking adventurously at home without abandon. I always enjoy analyzing the nutrition content of meals, and the color and texture variety of plate presentation.  I’ll interview and educate Veterans daily, but please don’t make me slice meat and hull tomatoes 8 hours/day! 

Here Comes Summer meal tray! (plus iced tea)

Small, playful project on stress reduction

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
–Mark Twain

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