Meet Eastern Health’s Dietetic Interns!

Eastern Health hosts hundreds of student placements each year, including placements in both health care and non-health care programs.

These placement experiences help students learn the necessary skills, attitudes and knowledge required to practice effectively in their field. Preparing students to become qualified, skilled health care and service providers sets the foundation for creating a sustainable workforce, and supports the overall health of people in our communities.

“As a teaching institution, Eastern Health is committed to supporting the development of the next generation of health care professionals,” says Kara Roberts, manager of student and volunteer pathways. “Offering practical training opportunities for students ensures they develop the knowledge and skills necessary to practice competently in their chosen profession.”

One of Eastern Health’s placements offered is the dietetic internship program.

There are limited dietetic internship spots available through Eastern Health each year; this means there is a lengthy and competitive process to get accepted into the dietetic internship program.

This year Heather, Janice and Meghan – three of six dietetic interns – decided to share their experiences to give insight as to what it’s like to be an intern with Eastern Health.

“I chose to apply to Eastern Health because it is close to home and it is where I would like to work and make a difference,” says Heather, a dietetic intern for the 2014-2015 session.

Heather is from Carbonear, NL. She completed a transfer program between Memorial University and Acadia University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition.

Janice, another intern, comes from Montague, P.E.I. She completed her undergraduate degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and did her Masters of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University.

“I choose to apply to Eastern Health because I have had friends go through the program in past years who had only good things to say about their internship experience,” says Janice.

Janice, Dietetic Intern with Eastern Health

Janice, dietetic intern with Eastern Health

Meghan started her journey to becoming a dietitian in Ontario, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Applied Human Nutrition at the University of Guelph.

Type of Work

Thus far, these interns have collectively had rotations in the areas:

  • Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Diabetes Education
  • Food Service
  • Rehabilitation
  • Community and Population Health
  • Long-Term Care
  • Women’s Health
  • Nutrition Support

“My favorite rotation so far was at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre,” says Meghan.

“Pediatrics is a topic that was not covered in my undergraduate classes so I was able to take so much away from this rotation!”

Meghan, Dietetic Intern with Eastern Health

Meghan, dietetic intern with Eastern Health

On the other hand, working in long-term care has made an impact on Janice.

“I have been working with food service staff in long-term care to help them learn to make more nutritious meals for a larger population,” Janice explains.

As for Heather, her favourite rotation was at the Dr. Leonard A. Miller Centre. “I was not aware dietitians played such a major role in rehabilitation!” she says. “It was enlightening to see first-hand the work we do with such unique group of patients.”

For these interns, there are numerous rotations still left to experience, including an independent practice rotation where they will take on the roles and responsibilities of a practicing dietitian – a rotation they are all very much looking forward to.

Research projects are also part of field work. Meghan, for example, completed an extensive review on best practices for nutrition and wound care management. “I presented my findings via webinar to dietitians and other health care professionals within Eastern Health,” Meghan says proudly.

Interdisciplinary Teams

The interns all attest that working with interdisciplinary teams has been a fantastic learning experience.

“The opportunity of seeing so many different professionals work together towards a collective goal has been valuable,” says Heather. “Each team has such a unique dynamic that clearly benefits the overall health of patients.”

“It has also helped us to learn more about the role of other health professionals and, in turn, develop a greater respect for their role of teams,” she says.

Future Plans

When talking about the future, the interns get excited. “My ideal future career would be based here in Newfoundland, and preferably at Eastern Health,” says Heather.

“I’ve taken so much from the experiences I’ve had so far, and would find any opportunity in dietetics fulfilling. I’m most interested in clinical nutrition, especially in the areas of neurology and diabetes,” she says.

Heather, Dietetic Intern with Eastern Health

Heather, dietetic intern with Eastern Health

Ultimately, they all agree with Kara about the importance of having valuable internships. “Throughout these rotations and experiences, we have been developing the essential competencies required of a Registered Dietitian,” says Janice. “These competencies will ultimately help us to become well-rounded professionals in our field.” ■

To find out more about the dietetic internship program and other internship opportunities at Eastern Health, please visit the Eastern Heath Student Services Webpage.

This story was written by Brandi Roberts, a public relations co-operative education student in consultation with Heather, Janice and Meghan, three dietetic interns at Eastern Health.

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