Now that graduate school is coming to a close, it is now time for me to move on to the next stage of my life. Eek! So nerve-racking, yet I am SO excited to start my dietitian career.
I will be graduating in May from West Virginia University with an MS in Nutrition and Food Science and will be taking the Registered Dietitian (RD) examination in mid-June. I am currently seeking employment around the Pittsburgh, PA area. If you know of any companies or healthcare facilities who are hiring dietitians that meet my qualifications, please do not hesitate to contact me!
Last Friday, I presented my research and defended it to the public as well as my graduate committee at WVU. Thankfully, I PASSED! Which means I am one step closer to graduating and completing my MS in Nutrition and Food Science!
Below is my PowerPoint presentation (sorry some of the formatting is off).
This was an hour-long, graduate-level presentation I gave in a nutrition seminar course. The audience was master’s students and professors in the West Virginia University Animal & Nutritional Sciences Department.
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program has been promoting the “5, 2, 1, 0″ message to prevent childhood obesity. The message “5, 2, 1, 0″ message consists four major components:
Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day
Limit screen time to 2 hours or less per day
Get1hour or more of physical activity every day
Drink fewer or 0 sugar-sweetened drinks
In honor of this healthy message, staff from local West Virginia WIC offices comprised a list of inexpensive places for young children to participate in daily physical activity in Monongalia County, WV. The list is below:
For the past two weeks, I have been on a community nutrition rotation at WIC. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Each county in the state of West Virginia has it’s own WIC office. I have had the opportunity to shadow a registered dietitian at the Monongalia County WIC office located in Morgantown, WV.
WIC provides the following services for eligible participants:
Free vouchers for specific, nutritious foods
Nutrition education in the form of one-on-one counseling with a dietitian, group classes, or grocery store tours
Free immunizations for children
Breastfeeding services in the form of one-on-one counseling with a lactation consultant. Breastfeeding pumps are also available for lactating mothers in a limited supply
Screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services
Who is eligible to receive WIC benefits?
Participants must meet all three of the following requirements:
Postpartum women (up to 6 months after pregnancy)
Infants (up to the infant’s 1st birthday)
Children (up to age 5)
2. Income Level
Applicant must meet USDA income standards which are revised each year. Any applicant that has a current medical card, proof of food stamps or TANF eligibility is automatically income eligible for WIC benefits.
3. Nutritional Risk
A nutrition and health assessment includes: height & weight measurements, anemia (low hemoglobin levels), health history & diet assessment.
WIC participants receive food vouchers that can be used at local grocery stores (and Wal-Mart). A new offer from WIC is that participants can now receive a special $20 farmer’s market voucher to spend at local farmer’s markets on fresh fruits and vegetables!
The quantities of foods depend on the type of participant. For example, breastfeeding mothers require more food than mother’s who are not breastfeeding. The types of foods that participants can receive with their vouchers include:
4 cans of beans, 1 package of dried beans, OR a jar of peanut butter
16 oz of sliced, cheddar, or blocked cheese
Milk (whole, 2%, 1%, or skim)
Cereal (only certain brands)
$10 or $6 voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables
Infant baby foods and formula
For a full list of WIC approved foods starting February 1, 2013, click here.
For the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to complete my clinical nutrition hours at a small, 80-bed hospital in Morgantown, WV. HealthSouth Mountain View Regional Rehabilitation Hospital specializes in rehabilitating patients who may have had a variety of different conditions.
HealthSouth treats patients with disease states such as:
Traumatic Brain Injury
Spinal Cord Injury
Various Injuries/Multiple Trauma
The responsibilities of a dietitian at a rehabilitation hospital is similar to that of a dietitian in an acute care hospital. The overall goal is to evaluate the patient’s nutritional status and determine an intervention to improve their condition in terms of their food. I have really enjoyed working at a rehab hospital because the average length of stay for a patient is 10-14 days, which is much longer than the acute care setting. For this reason, you get to know the patients much better and also have the chance to watch their condition improve.
The other interesting aspect of working at a rehab hospital is participating in a collaboration with many different medical disciplines. The medical team works together to improve the patient’s condition to a point where they can function with minimal assistance in their own home. The dietitian works closely with the speech therapist, physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.
As a future dietitian, the number one health question I get asked by friends, family, and patients is: “What is the best diet?”.
“The answer is not so simple”, I tell them, “You have to do what works best for you”.
Luckily, health professionals at U.S. News & World Report ranked 29 of the “Best Overall Diets”. The overarching winner?…(drum roll please)…The DASH diet.
The DASH diet recieved a total score of 4.1 out of 5 possible points. The diets were judged based on the following categories: short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, easiness to follow, nutrition, safety, best for diabetes, and best for heart health. However, not all categories were weighted equally. For example, long-term weight loss was weighted twice as much as short-term weight loss…which I completely agree with (because I believe long-term weight loss is the most imporant factor in determining the success of a diet).
Also known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the DASH diet was developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and low-fat dairy and limits foods with added sugar, red meat, and added fats. Originally, the DASH diet was designed with the purpose of lowering blood pressure and, after several randomized control trials in the 1990’s, it has proved successful at this. In more recent years, the DASH diet is supported by the USDA in promoting overall health and weight loss for the general public.
If you are thinking about following the DASH diet, daily serving suggestions and a sample menu are available below. For more information, the NIH has published a very informative document with complete details about the DASH diet.