I just wanted to share with you loyal readers a bit more about my experience at WIC (Women, Infants, and Children).
After learning about WIC in classes, it was extremely beneficial to be present in a clinic where I could see policy in practice. Throughout the 80+ hours of my rotation, I was able to learn about the “big-picture” policy, and shadow a large number of nutritionists in both the main Lancaster City clinic and in the smaller county clinics in Columbia and Ephrata.
The busy clinic in the city was able to serve a large number of participants each day, and the demographics were notably different than in the county clinics. In both Columbia and Ephrata the nutritionists were responsible for more of the visit (i.e. lab work) than in the main clinic. I was also able to engage with other community agencies that provide services to low-income women and children such as Healthy Beginnings Plus and HeadStart.
I learned a variety of practices and techniques specific to WIC, such as the contents of the supplement packages, and the VENA (Value Enhanced Nutrition Assessment) model. Although my rotation was too short to develop a firm grasp of the utilization of the QuickWIC (electronic documentation) system, I was able to become competent enough to perform nutrition evaluations and issue checks with the supervision of a nutritionist. I truly enjoyed sitting with each of the nutritionists (14 in total) and learning their style of nutrition counseling. Each one brings strengths to counseling that I was able to learn from.
I developed a basic understanding of WIC policy, and refreshed my knowledge on maternal and child nutrition. In particular, the developmental stages of infants and the recommended timeline for introducing new foods and feeding practices was a good review. The opportunity to practice my Spanish language skills and enhance my vocabulary- particularly the colloquial “Spanglish” spoken in the region- was beneficial.
I need to continue to develop my nutrition counseling skills, and I believe that this will come with more experience. In particular, I would like to continue to strengthen my ability in helping the client to share what motivates them to make change, and help them to identify ways that they could make a change.
While it has it’s flaws, I see a lot of benefits of the WIC program for low-income, nutritionally at-risk mothers and infants.