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Dietitian Essays

Nutrition Application Internship

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Based on a variety of personal experiences, I became very interested in the role of foods and nutrition. During my last year of highschool, my favorite who had a successful business succumbed to a strange alliment. He was tired all the time and was diagnosed to live only 1 year. While he didn't have cancer, his bloodwork had many abnormalites the doctors couldn't diagnose. He began to seek out other doctors who ultimately recommended that his see a dietitian. This changed his life. He started to eat low fat foods thats packed in vitamins, quit smoking and drinking and started to exercise regular bases. One year later, he could get out of bed, live as an full energetic person as he had before. This made him inspired to study nutrition in America. I was overwhelmed after I knew his history and never looked at food the same way again. It is clear to me now that how people eat and what people eat is an important factor in acheving optimum health, that just exercise isn't enough.
I am inspired to explore the field of dietetics which is very broad and dietitians perform a variety of functions in their jobs. As a dietitian, I can work in a wide variety of positions such as a foodservice manager in commercial or institutional, a community nutritionist, such as the WIC and Headstart, a consultant to major food corporations such as Kelloggs and Kraft or go into sales. I am very interested in working in a position where I can help people develop habits to improve their health. I may eventually go on to graduate school to advance my knowledge of dietetics.
My cultural background will be a great contribution to the Washington State University Coordinated Dietetics Program. Being raised in a Malasia, having visited different countries, and now living in the United States, I have experienced the similarities and differences among many diverse cultural groups and nutritional diets. This broad exposure to different cultures allowed me to relate to different types of people by understanding their ways and beliefs, a quality that will help me work well with other students and people. For example, many Malasians will eat something that is unhealthy in nutritional standards and has no benefits to the body. However, they will continue to consume it because it is common in their culture. I would like to teach Malasian people to look at food from a cultural and nutritional angle to be more healthful.

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For example, as a result of my education I have decreased my consumption of beef and my meals now contain less fat, and I eat fewer eggs each day. Changing my Malasian diet improved my life and I believe I can help others to make a similar change. I will be able to fulfill my greatest goal in life of helping others through experiences I have seen and felt first hand, and in doing this I would consider myself to be a good dietitian.
My long-range professional goals are to develop food safety programs, manage food services and/or develop food products. I see the need to bring food safety guidelines to Asian countries to avoid preventable diseases. I would like to introduce new menus to both Eastern and Western people to create a more balanced diet. For example, more raw vegetables for people in Asia for higher nutrient content and increasing the awareness of the high metal content in some seafood. In the American culture, I would create desserts catered to American taste using traditional Asian ingredients because they utilize more natural foods like beans, nuts, tofu, and fruit to make arrays of sweets that are lower in saturated fats and higher in nutritional value. For instance, teaching the public how to use tofu to get the desired texture in reduced fat cheesecake and brownies.
     In addition to the necessary education background for success in the profession, I also have excellent communication skills. My short-range professional goal is to teach and counsel in communities, especially children, elderly, and pregnant women about food nutrition and food safety. Teaching and working as a facilitator has helped me improve my communication skills. I am constantly meeting new people and feel that I am able to connect in both a personal and professional manner. Not only am I a good conversationalist, but I am also an excellent listener.
In addition to working, I have been doing volunteer work since I was 10 years old, as this was an important emphasis from my parents while I was growing up. One of my most rewarding experiences was teach children with less oportunities about the world. To help them understand the greater beauty and possibilities they could have by working hard in their studies. Seeing the world is connected and depend on each other. Currently, I volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house, the program is to prepare chronically mentally ill adults to integrate in the community. I have developed various menus for diffenent dietactic needs, and I am currently preparing display materials for cafeteria to teach participants about healthy eating in my college also.
I have applied for the internship because I am proud to be a student at Rush University Medical Center. It was my dream to study here and learn from other Human Nutrition students. Also, the Coordinated Dietetics Program has a large outreach with the community through the internship. I will have opportunities to work with different kinds of clients, retail and inpatient food services at Rush and a community hospital, complete with the on-site bakery, in addition to working with many ethnic groups. Also, I will have a valuable knowledge learning about food service management. This school has everything I could want from an internship program and I will do everything I can to make the school as proud of me as I am of the school.



RESEARCH & FACTS

The career I researched was that of a dietician. Someone who wishes to become a dietician must first obtain a bachelor s degree, which would be considered a minimal requirement. Most dieticians will tell you that it would be within the best interests of a student wishing to become a dietician to get a master s degree. Dieticians must have a love for science (chemistry in particular) and algebra as these skills are practiced routinely in the profession. It would also be a good idea for someone wishing to become a dietician to take some kind of accounting or book-keeping class, as dieticians must work on and file multiple records for each of their patients.

To become a dietician you must be willing to research every day. New scientific breakthroughs are made on a regular basis that are constantly changing the shape of the practice. Dieticians must also be willing to regularly meet with patients and physicians to accurately determine if their current dietary plan is working or not and what steps they should take to reach their final goal. Hospital dieticians correspond with the kitchen staff to make sure healthy diets are supplied for each patient in the hospital, as well as on an individual level.

In a hospital environment there are typically a group of dieticians to handle all of the inpatient diets. These dieticians in turn answer to their department manager, who works under a chairman. In the dietary department there are also several filing and appointment clerks who help the dieticians to manage their work and keep them on track. These clerks are required because of the high-volume of work a hospital dietician is responsible for. Even though dieticians must regularly meet with patients and physicians, schedules for dieticians are very loose, and they can usually pick their own hours as long as they are at work for a certain amount of time each week.

Dieticians are typically very friendly and social people. In the mornings, a dietary department will usually spend an hour or so casually talking about their current cases or new dietary breakthroughs. In these sessions, dieticians will discuss important new knowledge about their field and about their patients while they drink a cup of coffee.

Dieticians will usually get paid about fifty thousand dollars if they are working for a hospital. However, a dietician in a private-practice firm will usually make about one hundred thousand dollars. Many dieticians prefer working for a hospital because there is already a structured environment set for them there. Also, in a hospital a dietician never has to worry about running out of patients or getting sued. A dietician practicing privately is at risk for litigation. Every year an evaluation is given by the department manager or chairman to determine whether or not a dietician should be eligible for a raise or promotion. In hospital environments it is frequent for dieticians as well as people of all professions to get a small raise or bonus every few years.

As long as humans are eating food there will be a need for dieticians. Dieticians are in demand almost everywhere in the nation. Wherever there is a need to help the obese, injured, and malnourished, there will be a need for dieticians. Every hospital has a team of dietitians ranging in size depending on the size and budget of the hospital as well as the workload they must share.

Jobs related to being a dietician would include any kind of therapy. In these fields, professionals must create a path towards better health for their patients. A dietician might be helping someone lose weight just like a physical therapist would help someone walk, or like a psychologist might help someone work towards obtaining a stable mind.

INTERVIEW

I interviewed Patricia Funk, a dietary nutritionist who has been practicing for twenty-five years. For the past five and a half years she has been actively teaching and working with patients at Shands at AGH. She works with about 15 other dietitians with similar job descriptions. Different groups of dietitians will typically work with defined groups of doctors or departments.

Every week Mrs. Funk is required to work at least thirty hours. With no scheduled hours, she can work any thirty hours that she chooses. Mrs. Funk does not get a salary like most dietitians. Instead she decided to opt for a time differential system because of how much she works. In the mornings Patricia first clocks in and checks her email. Then she checks with the diet office to chat with her co-workers. She considers this important PR. After that she sits down at her desk to plan her day with her daily report. She checks on patients and what consults were requested from physicians or other hospital staff. Because there is so much asked of her, Mrs. Funk must prioritize her day. Patients and consults come first. She cannot be expected to make every meeting, and she often does not have as much research time available as she would like.

The first step Mrs. Funk takes in caring for a patient is reviewing their previous lab data and medical records for an assessment. After that she meets with the patient to discuss the plan she has for them and to find out if they have any preferences or problems with the diets she has selected for them. Often times the diet plans are not as ridged as a patient thinks. For example, there are a large variety of foods that can provide a person with ample vitamin C.

Mrs. Funk routinely is in contact with the kitchen staff. She emails and telephones employees in that department to inform them of patients dietary needs. She tells them what certain patients can and cannot eat.

ETHICAL DILEMMAS AND CURRENT ISSUES

In a many medical reports, a nutritional evaluation is requested. In these cases, a dietary nutritionist (dietitian) is required. It is the dietitian s job to review the patient s records and physical state and to determine an appropriate diet for him or her. After a scientific evaluation has been made, the dietician will then create a document recommending the best diet for that person. While under a doctor s care, all medical decisions are finalized by the patient s doctor. Even if the patient s doctor does not wish to follow the recommendations made by the dietitian, the recommendation is to remain in the medical file of the patient. Thus, if the doctor decides not to use a recommendation made by the dietician and he is wrong, it makes that doctor look bad. It is a common occurrence that when a doctor does not wish to follow a dietician s recommendation he will simply remove all notations made by the dietician. This is an ethical problem, and it is clearly not within the best interests of the patient. If the patient were to switch doctors, their new doctor would not be able to see the recommendations that were made by the dieticians, wasting their efforts. Furthermore, if the doctor is in fact wrong, there will be no documented opinions of opposition, which could mean that the patient would have less of a chance of getting the care that they need.

As far as current issues go, there are scientific discoveries constantly being made, changing the nutrition profession. Every day new care practices, chemicals, supplements, and vitamins are discovered that can help us heal quickly, lose weight, gain weight, add muscle mass, and preserve life. A dietitian must constantly be researching these new technologies and implementing them into her work.

SUMMARY

I am an ESFP. My interviewee, Patricia Funk is also an ESFP. We have a lot of things in common. We both can be very social people, but when there is work that needs to be done, we get to it. Patricia and I both are skilled at using a computer to our advantage and using the Internet for research. Both of us share a love for science, mathematics, and exploration. Both of us want to help other people, and both of us are concerned with our own health and nutrition.

There are many positive reasons for me to become a dietician. As a dietician I would make a good amount of money, and could find work almost anywhere in the country. I would also be able to feed my love for science and researching skills. The only problem I could find with becoming a dietician is that I am a very mechanical person. This has been proven by the tests, but it is also backed by my own beliefs. Unfortunately, there is little hands-on physical work to be done by dietitians. Perhaps I could volunteer to rearrange the furniture once a week.

Educationally I am on the right path. In several weeks I will graduate high school with almost thirty college credit hours. I will need to take more chemistry, biology, and math classes. I plan on earning a masters degree in nutrition.

Overall, this is a very fitting choice for me. A dietitian has been something I have always wanted to become. After researching the job more and interviewing an actual dietitian, I have decided that it a sure bet for me.

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