My Very First FNCE: Overview

At FNCE 2011

With another former UMD Intern and the Laughing Cow in the FNCE Expo Hall

Earlier this week, I returned from a whirlwind weekend in San Diego.  Thousands of dietitians, including many of the movers-and-shakers in the nutrition field, gathered in one place for the American Dietetic Association’s annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (ADA FNCE).  Luckily for us, it was in beautiful Southern California!  I was born in Long Beach, and my parents met and married in the area, so we used to go back and visit there often.  I hadn’t been in years so it was great to be back, especially for my first FNCE.

I was so excited to be reunited with three of my fellow dietetic interns, my internship director, and several of my preceptors.  I quickly found out this is half the appeal for those going to FNCE- reuniting with old friends and colleagues!

Back in my internship, I had submitted an abstract to FNCE about a project I did at CNPP, which was accepted, meaning I was to prepare a poster presentation.  Then, last month, I was informed that my abstract scored high enough to also qualify for an E-poster, or a powerpoint presentation that was available at kiosks in the conference center.  Furthermore, I was standing by my poster during the session on Sunday and some women came by and said they were judges for an award, and my poster was being considered!  I was so surprised and delighted that a little project I worked on as an intern gathered so much interest.

See for yourself: (unfortunately I had to submit them RIGHT before I took the RD exam so my credentials are not listed!)

FNCE was such a great experience: I attended educational sessions, met a ton of other RDs at networking events, had a lot of fun exploring the Expo, and enjoyed learning more about new developments in the nutrition world.  I must admit, my bags were significantly heavier going home after getting a ton of freebies in the Expo hall.

I was not employed at the time I signed up for FNCE, so I paid my own way.  However, I have no regrets- it was definitely worth the money.  I came away so inspired from it all.  The sessions were really educational as well!

Did you/would you go to FNCE?  Why or why not?

Studying for the RD Exam? Here’s Some Tips

RD Exam Studying

My study dungeon!

I was determined to take the RD exam ONE time in my life and then move on with my career.  When I googled “RD Exam Study Tips” I got horror stories on forums where certain people had taken the exam multiple times and couldn’t pass.  It was a little unsettling, yet motivating- this is a test you have to take seriously.
Disclaimer: this is just what worked for me! I offer no guarantees! 🙂

I used Jean Inman’s review – not the seminar, just the CDs and written course – as well as RD-in-a-Flash Flashcards.  I studied passively for a few weeks (just every now and then, scanning over things) then set up a schedule to get through the Inman CDs and the corresponding notes, domain by domain.  The Inman materials were definitely most helpful in reviewing everything that could be on the test.  Having the audio helped keep me focused, although I had to pause and take notes quite frequently.  Plus, there are a TON of practice questions for each domain to go through.  I made up my own outlines, charts, etc, then brought the flashcards with me when I wanted to study on the go.

If you are prepping to take the RD exam I highly suggest you sign up for weekly video tutorialsdaily practice questions, and weekly questions.  You can even sign up for the daily and weekly questions way ahead of time and just save them in your email box and look at them when you’re ready to study. (The videos do expire after the week they are released).

Another good resource is a study guide from the American Dietetic Association (ADA).  It costs $35 but is less money than other sources.  It also has a CD-Rom test that mimics the actual format of the exam.

RDStudy.com seems like a helpful resource as well.  I didn’t end up using it, as I already had the Inman review and this service costs additional money, but their free video tutorials were so helpful I can imagine the rest of their tools are too.  It appears that they have practice exams, in-depth tutorials, and even an RD on staff to answer questions.

The following are more resources I found helpful:

I hope any aspiring dietitians out there find this helpful!  For those of you who recently took the test, what materials worked for you? 

Mission: Dietitian SUCCESS

Registered DietitianI am happy to report that after years of developing my career goals, 5 years of intense education, and months of studying, I have taken the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) RD-exam and passed, making me a Registered Dietitian at last!!

The test itself was a challenge, I thought.  It didn’t help that the testing center had a few problems, delaying my start about 30 minutes while they had to make some phone calls to get it running.  I was sitting there, feeling my blood pressure skyrocket- I was so scared that they’d come out and tell me to come back another day.  I just wanted to get it over with finally!  At that point I was just excited to take the test and move on with my life!

There was a quick video tutorial that kind of brought me back down to reality before the actual questions started.  It was nice to get a quick overview of the system and definitely helped me refocus before the test.  Then I began!

There is a minimum of 125 multiple choice questions, and a maximum of 145.  If you’re definitely going to pass or fail at 125 I believe they cut you off, however if there’s a chance you could pass with more questions, they will extend it.  As I pressed submit at question 125, I held my breath.

Then the screen went blank, and I was taken to a survey.  I hardly read the survey however because I wanted to get to my results!  Thankfully I passed- my score was over the required “25” with some room to spare (still not sure how they really calculate that). I got a good mix of foodservice/management as well as nutritional sciences/clinical.  I felt like I was guessing on quite a bit of questions, but I suppose my clinical and managerial judgement was good!  The review materials and practice questions I had definitely came in handy.  My next post will be about what I used to study and prepare for the RD exam.

Please let me know if you have any questions about what the exam was like, or if you have anything to add about the testing experience!

Dietetic Internship Graduation

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It’s official: I have graduated from my internship!  I apologize that it’s taken some time to update my blog, but I have good reason for the delay!  Right after graduation I had to tie up a bunch of loose ends, pack up all my possessions, and drive across the country from Annapolis, MD to El Paso, TX.

Now that I am getting all settled in my new home, I am prepping for potential interviews and beginning to study for the RD exam.  Any advice from RDs who recently took the exam is much appreciated!

All in all this internship was a great experience to enhance me personally and professionally.  It exposed me to all different areas in dietetics.  Although my short term goals might be more traditional (most likely a clinical inpatient or outpatient position), I plan to use my IT skills gained in my internship to maintain a website and social media platforms.  Some of my long term goals include going back to school, community work, writing, and ideally some involvement in policy and legislation.  Without the exposure from this particular internship, I am not sure I would be aware of all of my options!

Thank you for following my blog- although the internship is over, I will continue to provide updates until I am finally a Registered Dietitian!

Drumroll Please…

This last week of my dietetic internship is an elective rotation, where we can re-visit a rotation we enjoyed or create a new one based on our personal interests.  Since I enjoyed clinical so much, I decided to go back to the hospital.

A clinical position would be a great first job, so I wanted a bit of a refresher from last fall when I did my rotation (sidenote: wow did time fly!).  Luckily I picked it right back up; tube feeding orders were a breeze and educations were even easier now than at the beginning of the year, based on all my community experience I’ve obtained since then.  I am ready!

And…drumroll please….tomorrow is the big day… GRADUATION!!!!

Check out my website for a summary of all I’ve accomplished!

Theme Meal Success!

Well….my food service rotation is complete. Our theme meal went off without a hitch! I am so proud of all of our hard work with planning, marketing, cooking, and serving. Our meal, “Symphony at the Potomac”, was a hit at Riderwood Village! Regarding financials, we ended with a positive balance, meaning we didn’t lose any money in the process. Whew!

This process has taught me so much about not only food service practices, but managerial skills, time management in the kitchen, food safety, and cooking skills.  I really liked some of the dishes and plan on making them for my husband sometime!

A special thank you goes to all the employees and residents of Riderwood Village, especially the kitchen and managerial staff at Potomac Cafe where we held our meal. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Check out some photos of the event:

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Say Yes to the Plate…MyPlate & More

choosemyplate.gov dietary guidance logoI was so thrilled earlier this week when the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) released the new dietary guidance logo, MyPlate, to replace MyPyramid.  Last January/February, I spent five weeks interning at CNPP in Alexandria, VA, where my partner and I were informed about the upcoming plate logo.  In addition to all the work we did to follow up the release of the Dietary Guidelines, 2010, we had the opportunity to participate in meetings and projects to support the plate, it’s new website, remodeling the partnership program, and developing additional resources.  See my posts from that rotation here, here, and some photos right here.

When I mentioned that I couldn’t be specific about what we were doing at CNPP, it was because it was plate-related!  It felt really awesome to be ahead of the rest of the nutrition community and be such an integrated part of the CNPP team.  Then, I checked the new choosemyplate.gov website and found that they just updated it with all of the projects we had worked on.

For example, the 10 Tips nutrition fact sheet series are used all over the nation by consumers as well as educational tools for health professionals.  I had the opportunity to actually contribute to this series!  Ala and I brainstormed the tip ideas featured in these resources, and worked with the staff to create the exact wording you’ll find on the web (all in PDF form):

It still blows me away to think that people across the nation will see this, what I personally had worked on during my dietetic internship rotation at CNPP!
So what’s next from USDA and CNPP? Look out for the upcoming SUPERTRACKER to be released at a later date, an updated tool for tracking activity and nutrition.