Posted on 10/17/2012 at 01:56:11 PM by Suzanne PriceBy Kate Kimes
My initial interest in nutrition began in high school as an athlete. Our track coach really incorporated nutrition into our training and taught us about fueling the body to perform. At the end of high school and into college my interest evolved as I had experiences with friends with eating disorders and I began working with diabetic patients. Once I entered medical school, I was disappointed by how short our nutrition unit was. I felt it was focused on identifying nutritional deficiencies rather than prevention or patient education.
The Clinical Nutrition Internship Program through the American Society for Nutrition was an invaluable experience for me. Not only was I exposed to a wide variety of nutrition-related experiences, but I was also able to speak with registered dietitians about their experiences with physicians. Many expressed concern about the lack of nutrition education among physicians and the frustrations they had. Most were eager to work with me, and they were so helpful to guide my learning.
I had the opportunity to spend time in a NICU and PICU, various WIC clinics, a weight-loss clinic, a dialysis center, an eating disorder outpatient clinic, and an athlete-training center. Each of these opportunities focused on a unique aspect of nutrition, from enteral nutrition to personalized meal plans, and I was able to learn how important nutrition was in a patient's health and recovery. Each location broadened my knowledge about nutrition and the nutritional resources available to my future patients. I gathered an in-depth understanding of the role of an RD. When the physician and RD worked together as a team, it really was of great benefit to the patient.
The various conferences and journal clubs that I attended were a great supplement to the on-site experiences. It was really exciting to learn the latest information in nutrition. One of these meetings was focused on supplements, and I was shocked at how little regulation there is for supplements. It was definitely an eye-opener for me, and I know I will educate my future patients and be sure to always ask about supplements to avoid interactions.
The Clinical Nutrition Internship Program filled an important void in my medical education. My knowledge and understanding of nutrition has expanded in many different areas. This knowledge will help me to make better decisions regarding nutrition for my future patients. I want to work side by side with dietitians in whatever specialty I choose. I know the exposure I had to so many different resources and opportunities in nutrition will enable me to ensure my patients receive the best care possible. I am so grateful this opportunity exists, and I know other students will benefit from it and become better doctors.