Match Day Memories

I was just reminded today that Monday was match day (officially called “notification day”) for getting your dietetic internship placement. For all those hopeful RD2Bs, it’s a seriously stressful wait. You apply for the internships in January, and then have to sit and wait until April to find it where you’ll be moving, or if you’ll even have a place to move to.

The website opens up at midnight for you to see your future, so to speak. Of course, with thousands of panic-stricken students trying to log on at exactly 12:00, it crashed for a while. I was so nervous, I couldn’t even look at the screen, worried that I’d have received my last choice (UVA – I was so scared of living somewhere that snowed! haha), or worse – no match at all!

It’s sad and scary that less than 50% of applicants receive a match. That leaves the majority of dietetics graduates without the ability to pursue work  as a Registered Dietitian (unless, of course, they wait and re-apply the next year, which most try to). It’s definitely frustrating for our field. I feel incredibly fortunate that I did receive a match (and my #1 choice!)

And so… here are some tips for any of you who are out there and found out this week that you received no match:

  1. Jump on the chance to apply for any second-round openings that appeal to you.
  2. Take some time to decide if you really want to be a Registered Dietitian.
    1. If “yes” then you need to reapply for the internship next year. Until then, get as much experience as you can – getting a job with responsibility always looks good – but try to volunteer in anything nutrition/health related, whether in a clinical setting, community projects, research or foodservice.
    2. If “no” then consider other health related fields. I know many a former dietitian now applying to nursing school, pharmacy school, or PA school. I also know a dietetics graduate who is now working to become an occupational therapist. Nutrition is a great background for any healthcare position!
  3. Don’t feel like your life was ruined because you didn’t get that match. Everything happens for a reason, and clearly it wasn’t your time yet! Don’t take it personal. I have heard stories of students with top grades, research experience, bla bla bla and they don’t get a match. It’s more than just your paper application – that computer match system can screw things up too.

More importantly, for all of those of you who did just find out your match – congratulations! It’s an exciting but equally busy year. I set out to write this blog throughout my internship but didn’t balance it too well with the workload. I’m blogging a lot more now, and obviously no longer an RD2B, so a new name will be unveiled sometime in the future.

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Spring is here at long last!

I have so enjoyed the beautiful weather we’ve been blessed with in the past few days. Not quite so excited to get the power bill today and see a record-breaking amount for the month of January…. but that was a very frigid month requiring non-stop heating, so I suppose I can understand. But now that I’ve been able to leave the building without a coat for several days, I’m loving it! 

Rotations began this week. No more clinical stuff, I’m now in the other track, which we lovingly call “MBC land” – short for management, business and community rotations. This week is focused on patient services in the hospital’s foodservice department. Even though I expected to hate foodservice stuff, we’re doing more managerial type activities. So instead of cooking/delivering the meal trays, we’re investigating why delivery times are slow, why certain items receive more complaints than others, help keep staff updated on regulations, etc. Tomorrow, for instance, I’m teaching a few inservices on Joint Commission, since Vanderbilt is due at any moment for a surprise visit. We came up with a spin on “Where’s Waldo?” and have “Where’s JC?”, emphasizing that they will come unannounced, and may be anywhere in the hospital. Of course, being in the south, we’ll have to put in the disclaimer that no, we’re not talking about Jesus Christ, but the Joint Commission. haha. But who knows, maybe Jesus likes red striped sweaters too?

I’ve finally had some more time to get back to reading… which has been long overdue. I have only a few chapters left in ‘Holy Cow’ – an enjoyable travel narrative about an Australian journalist’s move to India and her experience with the culture, religion and lifestyle. I have been looking forward to taking the shuttle to work in the morning so I can have a few minutes to read (with no computer/internet/work to distract me). However, yesterday morning I get settled into my seat, only to find an Indian couple sitting across from me. I immediately felt self-conscious, but desparately wanted to read my book, so I pulled it out discretely and laid it on my lap (to avoid flashing the colorful and provoking cover). After finishing the chapter, I put it back in my bag. When I looked up, the couple was grinning at me. The man said “Can I see the book that you’re reading? What is it about?” I pulled it out slowly, handed it to him, and explained “Oh, it’s just about an Australian woman’s travel to India”. I didn’t know if it offended them or simply intrigued them. The two of them closely inspected the book and read the blurb on the back, then smiled and handed it back to me. “Do you like this kind of book?” he asked me. Again, not knowing what to say and not wanting to upset anyone, I stayed safe with “Yeah, it’s pretty interesting…”. 

Luckily, they were not on the bus this morning, so I read in peace. I’m hoping to finish it tonight. The next books on my list are:

  • Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  • Epilogue: A Memoir by Anne Roiphe
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I just have to read it now after seeing the movie!)
  • The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks (I know….)

And a quick reminder for all you readers out there that I’m still raising money to help fight blood cancer!! My half marathon training is going well, and on April 25th I’ll complete my second half-marathon on behalf of cancer patients, victims, and survivors. Visiting the pediatric oncology floor today, I saw a stack of coloring books that LLS puts out about “My Stem Cell Transplant” and was reminded of the great work that they do. Please join me in finding a cure! So far, I’ve raised over $300, but my personal goal is $1,000. Any amount you can give, no matter how small, will help! LLS is such a good organization to give to, over 75% of all donations go straight to research and patient services, and I can tell you that the funds raised by Team in Training have made a huge impact on the survival rates of many types of cancer. So thank you in advance for your support :)

Nothing like a hot oven to keep you warm…

This Nashville winter has been pretty darn cold. In fact, I would say it’s the coldest winter of my life – except I forget that I spent 5 years of my childhood in London. So while I don’t remember those winters, I’m sure they beat middle tennessee’s. 

Regardless, it’s cold, and I’m huddled in my miniscule 1960s kitchen right now, listening to Simon and Garfunkel, wrapped in a scarf, and baking my sister’s wonderful pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies, trying to ignore the fact that it’s snowing outside. Ovens really do a great job of keeping one warm when the 1960s building’s heating system leaves much to be desired. 

So, at 9:15pm, what are some things I’ve learned today?

  1. I’m quite the fan of earl grey tea. Maybe it was growing up in London… who knows. 
  2. I learned today that you can, in fact, bring your own mug to coffee shops! This has been my latest concern, the environmentalist waste-phobic person I am. I’m proud of my non-use of plastic bags now – even though the trunk of my car is now like a canvas/reusable bag cemetary. They’re everywhere! All shapes, sizes, materials. But that’s good! And with my reusable sandwich wrap (which gets compliments, thank you very much), I rarely use a plastic sandwich bag. Tupperware has eliminated the use for ziploc bags, my Klean Kanteen prevents me from ordering drinks in the cafeteria or having to throw away plastic cups. But the latest dilemma has been my frequent coffee stops, and the fact that I’m throwing away a cup everyday! And those little cardboard cup “belts” or whatever you call them. I actually found a pattern to make your own (which I have requested for my upcoming birthday). And websites do exist to promote the use of your own mug at coffee shops. So… I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes!
  3. The news is just depressing. I actually sat down and watched over an hour of the news – both national and local. There’s nothing good out there to hear about. Everyone’s losing their jobs and Kentucky people still have no power. My black bean corn chips and salsa were good though. haha

I think 3 lessons for the day is sufficient. Tomorrow should be a fun day – below freezing all day, and we’re out driving to WIC offices and food banks. Lovely. Good thing I’m bringing along my pumpkin choc-chip cookies for us interns :)

Fighting the Battle of the Bulge

Don’t think that dietitians (or RDs2B for that matter) are all perfect eaters, with daily diets that meet each and every one of the dietary guidelines and reflect the food guide pyramid. I will admit that before starting my dietetic internship and meeting my fellow interns, I was worried that no one else would eat sweets like I do, or enjoy indulging in caloric splurges. However, I have found that these girls (and 1 guy) also live by the motto of “everything in moderation”. We all enjoy going out to eat, discovering Nashville’s local eateries, and baking/cooking for one another.

If you read one of my recent posts, you will find that the very foods I teach people to think of as “sometimes foods” or “whoa foods” as the little kids learn, have been increasingly a regular part of my diet. Not a good thing. Especially when this sub-zero weather has lead to a decrease in my workouts and caloric expenditure. And so… I am left battling with my all-powerful sweet tooth, who seems to think that a meal cannot end without dessert. However, my thighs and waist tell me that I need to lay off the sweets!

I knew I’d never be able to just stop eating sweets. I’m not one of those people. I love chocolate, cookies, nutella, cupcakes, etc, and I don’t believe anyone should have to live a life without such delights. However, I don’t think they need to be part of my everyday diet. So… I decided to try a 2 day – 1 day cycle, which is as simple as it sounds: 2 days with no dessert, rewarded with a treat the next day, and continue and repeat. I recruited my best friend and college roommate (who will be supporting me when she’s a rich corporate lawyer in a few years) as my support and accountability partner. Afterall, if no one knows my plan and what I’m trying to do, it’s that much harder for me to stick to it!

So… how have I done? Oh dear. Today is day 2, and I’ve had sweets both days. Not planned, of course. Yesterday, the interns went to Fido for lunch. Being the financially poor intern that I am, I brought my peanut butter and banana sandwich inside, but bought a muffin to split with someone. I chose the PC muffin (pumpkin-chocolate chip) which has to be the best muffin ever created!! That was the only dessert of the day, and honestly it did have vegetables in it…. no, there’s no justifying that one. 

Today, an intern brought in chocolate/peanut butter cupcakes for our research workshop class, of which I enjoyed 2. 

So where does this leave us? Basically, the 2 day-1 day has been followed, but unfortunately in reverse. Oh dear…. haha. 

But let’s remember, tomorrow is a new day. And an ironic day at that. I’ll be at one of the Nashville Metro high schools all day, teaching students about making healthier choices for snacks, beverages and fast food. Oh and we have a hilarious “nutrition rap” to do with them too! haha. And in the afternoon, I will be watching Roddick and Federer go head to head in the semi-finals. My roommate has witnessed enough of my screaming at the TV for the past week. Today she asked “when is all this over?!”

Hopefully the next time you hear from me, I’ll be able to report successfully sticking to the “plan”.

T-2 days til Turkey Day!

Hope some of you appreciated my alliteration efforts for that title. Even as a vegetarian, I still refer to Thanksgiving as Turkey Day. This year will be my second turkey-free Thanksgiving, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be missing out on anything! In fact, 2008 saw the conversion of my mother to a meatless diet, so I won’t be so heavily outnumbered at the dining room table. This also means we’ve downsized from a whole turkey to just a breast for the few meat eaters left. Who knows, maybe in a few years’ time my whole family will have seen the light!? Yeah…. probably not. My dad has been losing weight this year without my mom cooking him meat every night, so I don’t think he’d ever go vegetarian on his own (he is not someone who NEEDS to lose weight!).

As the family’s RD2B and food nazi, I planned the menu and will do a lot of the cooking I’m sure. The main switch that I have forced since going vegetarian was to stop using chicken broth and switch to vegetable broth. I doubt anyone can tell the difference, but it amazes me how immediately my taste buds are alerted if I taste chicken broth now. It’s pretty scary. Like the other day in the hospital cafeteria, I had green beans for lunch, and as soon as they went into my mouth I knew they’d been cooked with bacon/ham….. bad idea.

So, here’s the menu for Thanksgiving this year:

  • Turkey Breast (for the others)
  • Vegetarian Entree: brown/wild rice pilaf with dried cranberries, walnuts, portabello mushrooms and the holy trinity of carrots/onions/celery. A new recipe for this year.
  • Stuffing – my personal favorite for Thanksgiving. If I was stranded on a desert island in November, this would be my #1 food choice. I have been known to eat cold slabs of leftover stuffing as a snack (or meal), and even to make “stuffing sandwiches”. And yes, I realize that is essential bread inside bread, but it’s darn good :)
  • Campbell’s classic Green Bean Casserole. I won’t comment on this, it’s not my idea.
  • My Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Mashed Potatoes – this will be the first year I’m not making my usual potato dish with cheddar, sour cream and scallions. We’re just going with plain ole taters this year.
  • Corn Bread Pudding – a recipe my grandma wants to try out this year
  • Jell-O Salad: also not my idea, but my mom is excited about it. She saw it on Paula Deen’s show a few months ago. That could quite possibly be why I’m not excited about it.
  • Bread rolls – of course!
  • Dessert: My sister is making a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting, and I’m bringing a chocolate chess pie from Nashville

So as you can see, we’re not ones for tradition. Other than stuffing and sweet potatoes (and I suppose turkey), we change up the menu every year and try new recipes.

This is the first significant break that we’ve had thus far in the dietetic internship, and I know that all 16 of us are really read for some time off! We had our seminar presentations for the past 2 days and are also glad to have that over and done with! No more researching and talking about acute pancreatitis anymore :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy spending time with friends and family!

Trick or Treat!

Can you believe that tomorrow is halloween!? More importantly, can you believe that it is almost November!?? I certainly cannot. It seems like just yesterday was August and I was starting the internship, and now it’s already the time of the year when:

  1. I have to set the alarm extra early in the morning to account for the minutes I spend lying in bed saying to myself “it’s too cold to get out of bed… just a few more minutes and I’ll get up”
  2. I have to start thinking about Christmas gift purchasing and card sending. I already have my lists made, so at least I’m being proactive
  3. My basil has moved into my bedroom, to stay protected from the cold nights. Little does he know, but he’s about to have a major haircut and become some delicious pesto. Mmmm…. I’m thinking of creating a pesto risotto with it :)
  4. Team in Training season is about to start!! Tonight is the first information meeting I’m going to as a team captain, hopefully to encourage and motivate people to join. I’m so excited to be back with the program, and especially to work with a team as large as the one here in Nashville!

I was in Chicago for the past 4 days attending ADA’s Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE to those in the know). I had a blast. Definitely the biggest dork of the intern class – I was at the conference from start to finish most days, rather than out shopping/partying like some of my fellow interns. The expo was pretty amazing – I had to purchase a new duffle bag to drag home all the freebies I got, including many many food samples, brochures, nutrition educational materials, post-its, mousepads, pens, and books! Yes, I got free books: Ellie Krieger’s new cookbook, Bob Greene’s new book (signed by himself!), and Prevention’s new “Flat Belly Diet” book, which I haven’t looked into yet, as well as some vegan cookbooks. Good deal. And I also went to as many of the lectures as I could squeeze into my days, and basically sat there at each one thinking “I want to do this” or “I was to go into this area of research” or “This is what I plan on devoting my career to”. So, did FNCE help me decide a career path? No. I want to do everything. Which could be a problem. But at least I won’t be picky when it comes time to find a job!

Thoughts of the day

I just want to start this post with something that has had me very curious: why is everyone all of a sudden obsessed with PB&Js? In the past 3 days, I have had over 100 people find my blog and read my post on Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, most all from searches related to “peanut butter” or “peanut butter sandwiches” or “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches”. What’s going on people? Did I miss something in the news recently? Did Oprah dedicate a show to the wonders of PB&Js last week? Did Sarah Palin admit to feeding her family PB&Js for dinner? I don’t know what it is, but it has me curious. Of course I won’t object to people reading my blog, that’s fine with me!

I had an enjoyable day at work today. Spent the morning in IBD clinic, and sat in on some interesting counseling sessions with patients with Crohn’s Disease. Poor people. That’s one disease I don’t want to have (not that I want to have any diseases… although some are pretty cool!). My big clinical case study for this semester is on a patient I found last week with Crohn’s, so I expect to be an expert by December 12th when it’s all said and done (my case study, not her Crohn’s… unfortunately). I also got a laugh out of a nurse who asked a patient what “May-yuds” she’s taking. That’s right, 2 syllables in meds. Helps me remember what part of the country I’m in :)

In the afternoon I was in the Center for Surgical Weight Loss, and was able to witness a ‘band fill’ for a patient who had the gastric banding surgery 3 months ago. (think lap band). OK, so this was totally not what I thought it would be like. Basically, they can tighten or loosen the band as they desire – giving your stomach more or less space. For this patient they were filling the band, to decrease the available space in her stomach. I was sent in the room after falsifying that I don’t freak out about needles. And this was not just your normal needle. No, this thing was huge! The surgeon let me feel the patient’s abdomen (I apologize for my cold hands!) for the port, that is placed just beneath the skin. And then… he stabbed that Texas-sized needle right in! Luckily, I found a chair to sink in, just in case my psycho-dizziness decided to kick in. But it was actually pretty interesting to watch – when he finally got the needle in the right place, he injected a few milliliters of saline into the band. Now, testing it out is the funny part – you have the patient sit up (with the giant needle and syringe still sticking out of her stomach!) and drink some water. If it doesn’t seem to be able to go down OK, then you’ve restricted too much, and you need to take some of the saline out of the band. This is repeated several times until the patient can gulp the tiny cup of water without problems. Of course by now we had filled her little stomach pouch full of water, so she started burping. And then the surgeon removes the giant needle and the patient goes home. How bizarre.

I also came across a man who lives in Hawaii, but commutes to Nashville for work. Don’t ask me to explain.

And.. another patient who was somehow taking HCG for weight loss. Referred to as “placenta pills”… this is just gross.

Oh, the things you come across working in a major teaching hospital/medical center. I love it :)