The Nutrition Information Panel was a great event. 3 RDs and 1 expert came to talk to us students on a Friday night.
There were so many things they all talked about, based on the questions that were asked. We even provided our panelists with gifts: whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, and seasonings.
A RD from California State WIC, the California Beef Council, Nutricopia, and an expert from Food Literacy came to talk. There were four panelists all together. Thank you Denise Chapel MPH, RDN, MS, FAND, CCC ; James Winstead RDN; Jo Miller MPH, RD; and Elaine Fok MS for coming out on a Friday night to talk to us students. Annalisa Sherman, MS, RD, was unable to make it but she also works at California State WIC, where I volunteered last semester and during the summer.
The RDs talked about the paths they took to become a RD. It’s funny how everyone has their own path but eventually ends up at the same place. However, the RDs said that WIC was a great place to volunteer at to get experience. Almost everyone in the nutrition field has worked/volunteered at WIC at some point. WIC is the Womens, Infants, and Children Program.
Two of the RDs said that they were not accepted into a dietetic internship the first time they applied. Dietetic internships are really competitive! One of them applied 4 times until they got accepted. Each time, this person asked the director what they could do to improve their application. Perseverance and determination is key.
Another thing that is important is experience. The directors don’t only look at your grades but your experience as well. WIC is a great way to get community experience. Clinical experience is difficult to get as an undergraduate student. However, it is something that is recommended. Volunteering at a hospital is a good way to get clinical experience. Volunteering at a mental health institute is another way (one has to be mature and patient to be able to work in such a setting). If your school has a Peer Health Educator Program like mine does, you can apply to be a nutrition peer health educator. It is a great way to get clinical experience while helping your peers.
Besides just talking about the paths to becoming a RD, these experts talked about Food Insecurity. How can such a rich nation have food insecurity and be malnourished? Look around. Not everyone has access to nutritious foods. On top of that, even though they may have access, they choose other foods. Healthy foods are thought of to be expensive. Most people are trying to get the most for their money, which may include buying a lot of processed foods instead of buying some fruits and vegetables at the same price. Some also prefer processed foods (cookies, chips, etc) over fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc that are not as processed.
Some say that people have lost touch with how their food is grown or where it’s from. It’s true. We rely on the store to buy our foods. Sometimes, we just buy fast food or go out to eat at a fancy restaurant. We don’t even cook anymore. Do you know that kids are more likely to eat foods they helped cook? They want to eat it simply because they made it! Just by starting young, kids can develop healthy eating habits. What you can do is also start growing your own vegetables in the backyard. Kids would love to help out.
Anyway, some of what I said is not exactly what was said in the panel but it is the general topics that was talked about. It was a great panel and I learned a lot from it.
Have you guys attended panels and talks?
Do you find it useful? – I do!