My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!

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My First Week of My FSM Rotation

This past week, I completed my first 5 days of my food service management rotation. Overall, I think the rotation went pretty well. I attended a lot of meetings and in-service trainings, so I was able to meet most of the staff that I would be seeing throughout my rotation. It was very interesting to see the dynamic among the food service workers in the schools. A lot of the employees had strong bonds and cliches with other employees of their specific school. I could see the vast amount of support both the food service workers and managers had for one another. That is something I will come to appreciate even more throughout my tougher weeks of my internship.

I found myself having a lot of time to work on assignments and plan/prepare upcoming projects and studies. It was definitely helpful for me to bring my laptop, assignment binder, and resources to pull ideas from.

Before leaving for the weekend, I received some unexpected news from my preceptor and the general manager. I was super nervous before the 3 of us sat down for the meeting. My preceptor had said, 15 minutes before, that her and the boss needed to speak with me about something. I don’t know about anyone else, but, my immediate thought was, “Uh-oh, what did I do?” After stopping my train of negative, rash thoughts, I reminded myself that it was my first week, and it was probably something un-related to me.

Much to my surprise, I was informed that my preceptor would be leaving that next Friday to join the Navy as an RD! While this was very exciting news for her, I was a little worried about the rest of my rotation. Who would become my preceptor? Did they know all of the work involved? Would I be able to complete everything that was required of me?

Again, once I calmed myself from my racing thoughts, I came to realize that I could do this. It was just another bump in the road. Plus, I not only had the support of the management team and staff; however, I also had the support of my internship director and fellow interns.  Having an RD for food service management wasn’t a requirement for my program, so I was lucky enough to have one as my preceptor. It was decided that the general manager would be taking over the position as my preceptor. He is quite knowledgable and understands that I have a lot of different assignments required of me.

My current preceptor and I sat down this week to plan out all of the school nutrition assignments and set up meetings with who I needed to speak with. My preceptor is much more informed on not only general nutrition, but also nutrition education in schools. That being said, her and I worked together so that she could continue to be a resource to me for the last week of her working there.

Next week will definitely be a change with the school year up and going. Not only will management be down a staff member, but I will be working with a new preceptor. This situation reminds me of something that my internship director had said to me. It went something like “You can plan out what you want to do for food service and how you want your assignments to go; however, there will be some days that everything will just go completely off plan. You need to be ready to deal with whatever is there and be flexible.” That statement has never been so true!

On a final note, I received an official badge from the school district I am working in. Under my name it says “Support Staff.” Boy, do I feel important :):)


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The First Day at My FSM Rotation

Today officially marks the start of my rotations! I started my dietetic internship in Food Service Management at an elementary school. The food service company I am working with has a contract with the whole district, which includes 16 different schools from grades K-12. I was lucky to begin in FSM before the school year started. I felt as though I was able to ease into the rotation, rather than just being thrown in mid-stream.

Going into my first day, I was pretty nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the managers, schedule, or workload. (Just a side note, I was so worried about being late that I got to my rotation site an hour early. My preceptor had a good laugh about that one. :)) Everyone I worked with today, my preceptor and additional staff members, were really great. My preceptor lead me on a tour of the school, gave me little tips about the co-workers and what to expect on a daily basis, and allowed me to ask as many questions as I needed. She also had tons of resources in her office for me to refer to when I worked on assignments.

I really felt that it was helpful to have all my assignments printed out for quick reference. A lot of times when my preceptor was talking, she would touch on a topic that related to an assignment I had. My director had suggested that I sit down with my preceptor in the first week to review the assignments and get a plan together on how to tackle them. Today, my preceptor and I worked through my assignment list very thoroughly. This really helped us both to understand all the assignments better and bounce ideas off of one another. My preceptor was open to any ideas that I had, which helped me feel more comfortable about what I was doing.

One of the major topics for today was the school lunch program. With all of the new guidelines in place for the school year, my preceptor has to work to update the menus to fit all nutritional requirements. I had reviewed the school lunch program prior to starting; however, it was very helpful to go in depth with my preceptor. I was able to look at menu templates and the programs they used for their schools.  I had a little bit of down time (expect that when you begin your FSM rotation), so I was able to get working on my school lunch menu planning assignment. Planning a school lunch menu with all of the new guidelines is a lot more complicated than I thought. It helps to have charts printed out of all the grade group requirements and food component regulations for quick reference.

I was surprised at how many phone calls the office received when I was there today. It seemed as though the phone never stopped ringing with parents asking questions about the school lunch program, new employees asking about trainings, and potential employees calling about positions and job offers. With the students starting next week, a lot of food ordering had to get placed today too. I expect that I will be a lot busier once next week rolls around.

Overall, today was quite a success. Over the next few days, I will be meeting the principals, managers, and employees from other schools in the districts at the meetings and trainings they have scheduled. I am very excited to continue my journey to RD status!

I now leave you with my “laughable moment of the day”:
I packed a lunch and some snacks for today which consisted of: carrots, celery, dressing, chickpeas with ranch, 1/2 sandwich with natural peanut butter and nutella, turkey jerky (made in my dehydrator), an apple, raw cashews, and 2 rice cakes. Now, I don’t know about you, but besides the sandwich and jerky, I picked some noisy food. Let’s set the scene. While the phone does ring a lot, when it doesn’t ring, the office is dead silent. So, lunch rolls around and I break out my sandwich and my veggies. Starting with my quiet food first, I have no problems.  I then move onto my carrots and celery sticks, which are not very quiet foods. I begin laughing because all I can hear is the obsessive crunch when I bit into my food. Let’s face it, there is no quiet way to eat celery and carrots. Anyway, I don’t think anyone else notices, or cares that I am crunching and chomping. I, however, begin to crack up at myself, and proceed to choke on my food. This wasn’t a heimlich maneuver type of choke; however, I had one of those slight panic moments where you suck in too much food with air and do a cough-cough-large swallow. I think tomorrow I will will be packing cucumbers and grapes 🙂

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Preparing for Your First Internship Rotation

In exactly 11 days, I will begin my first dietetic intern rotation in food service management (cue the bells and whistles). I am very excited/nervous to begin my next step in my RD journey. A lot of people in my internship program have already started their rotations. Hearing their positive experiences have really made me antsy to have my own and just get started.


With my internship, I also take a certain amount of graduate credits. At first, I thought this would be a ton of work; however, the assignments and lectures are spaced out and prepared very well. Also, with the online format, it is easy to jump on and work for an hour or two, then move on to something else.


Some ways I have been preparing for the rotation are: 1. Complete quizzes and lectures supplied by my internship (If your internship does not have these, there are plenty online). 2. Read through my foodservice organizations book. 3. Read through all the assignments I will be completing. 4. Create a semi-timeline of the rotation. 4. Give an overview of assignments to my preceptor (I am in a distance program). I also found it to be helpful to gather all of my rotation materials in one binder so that I can reference assignments or notes with ease. I also read through some of my notes from my food service management classes and quantity food production class that I had in college


Besides preparing myself for the work portion, I have been mentally preparing myself for the rest of the program. Not only do I not know my surroundings, but, I also don’t know my preceptors very well, or what their schedules are really like. It is more of preparing myself for the unknown of that first day; accepting what will happen and just going with the flow. There is always that feeling that “maybe I don’t know enough” however, the comments and feedback I have heard from the other interns have really made me excited and know that I can do it. Having the other interns to talk to and share stories with has been such a great addition to my internship. I know that if I need help with assignment I can always turn to the other interns. Also, seeing that some of them struggled with similar assignments has really made me think that I wasn’t the only one to be in that situation.


Just some final words of advice to those of you who have either just begun your internship or are waiting to start:

-Don’t feel like you are alone in the process! You will always have the other interns and your directors to turn to for help or guidance.

-Have confidence in yourself and know that you can do it! Trust the knowledge you have. Brush up on some information to boost your confidence.

-Be flexible and go with the flow. As much as you want your first day to go smoothly, know that it will probably be crazy or very different than what you are used to. Embrace the change and accept what is in front of you.

-Prepare your materials ahead of time so that it is one less thing to worry about.

-Get to know your preceptor and supply them with your assignments prior to starting. It will help the process run a bit more smoothly.

-Lastly, share your story with others! It always helps to share your positive experiences with others who are just starting.


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My Dietetic Orientation week

Once you are accepted into a dietetic internship program, you will need to go through orientation. Some orientations are a few days, others are a week. It will all depend on the type and location of your dietetic internship.

Since my internship was a distance program, I flew out to Utah for 4 days. I wasn’t expecting much out of the orientation.  I figured that people had their friends and cliques and it would just be awkward. I couldn’t have been more wrong about it.

Orientation was probably one of the best experiences I have had. It is such an amazing feeling to be in a room with 60 other interns who come from all over the US, but, have similar goals as you do. I really got to bond with my fellow interns and my internship directors. While some lecture was involved, the atmosphere was still open and relaxed. We had multiple team-bonding activities, which really had a positive impact on me (And I am sure other interns).

During lunch and other free times throughout the day, the interns would get to share where they came from, excitement about rotations, and goals for their future career. Although everyone was ultimately there to pursue their RD status, we all had very different paths that we wanted to take.

One highlighting moment of the week for me was when I went hiking up the mountains with a few other interns.  As we started our hike, I felt pretty good. The trail we took was tough and very slanted. About 20 minutes into the hike, I was trailing at the end huffing and puffing. As I looked ahead at the other interns, none of them seemed at all phased by the stifling air or hot sun. (Utah is already a higher elevation than I am used in Pennsylvania). I, on the other hand, felt out of shape and close to passing out. I was surprised at myself. I mean, I go to the gym, walk, do resistance training, yet, I was panting like a dog. I kept thinking to myself that I should just give up, walk back, and wait for the driver to come. I didn’t want to hold anyone back, and I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up.

As more of a lag formed between the other interns and I, one stopped. She offered me her water, which I of course forgot to bring. That perked me up for a few more minutes. As we continued uphill, I was ready to quit and I stopped. Then, something happened, which I felt was pretty amazing. They all stopped with me for a break! Everyone was so nice, offering me water and telling me that if I needed a break they would all stop. Although many people might think this is trivial, it really had an impact on me. Here was this group of women who don’t even know me. They could have laughed at me or joked around at my laborious breathing; however, they did exactly the opposite. They were caring and understanding. Something they didn’t realize, was that they motivated me to keep going. A few minutes after we continued walking from our break, we reached flatter ground and it was much easier to continue the hike.

We hiked for about an hour and a half up to 9,000 elevation. The view from the mountaintops was absolutely amazing. I felt amazing, like I conquered the mountains (yes, that’s very cheesy). I was so glad that I kept going and was able to experience the beauty around me. This was just one moment that really made me feel close to the other interns.

I never would have expected to form such a strong bond with some many people, so quickly. We talked like we had known each other our whole lives. It felt great to be able to have such a strong support system behind me for when I started my rotations.

My orientation was such an amazing experience. The conversations, events, and nightlife were something I will always remember.

If you already had orientation, share what positive experiences you had!