Roanna Martin

"make [food] simple and let things taste of what they are." {Curnonsky}


The Role of the Clinical Dietitian

Many of you may wonder exactly what a dietitian in a hospital does. If you are admitted to the hospital, you may or may not see a dietitian, depending on your diagnosis and what happens to you over the course of your stay.

Here’s a meme which I think does a pretty good job of explaining the role of a dietitian.


(Image courtesy of fellow blogger HappyDietitian)

My friends may think I’m all about a perfectly balanced and healthy lifestyle, society may view me as someone who works in the media, patients view dietitians as policemen (the most common joke I hear when I walk into the room and ask if a patient is following any sort of diet at home: “Yeah- I’m on the ‘see-food’ diet. I see food and I eat it!”).

Doctors have a tendency to think of dietitians as food service workers. Although we do work alongside food service to provide nutritionally adequate meals to patients, we are not working in food service. I have a lot of respect for food service workers, to be sure! “Catering assistants” (also called “dietary aides” or other names depending on the facility) are sometimes the friendliest faces of the hospital to many patients, as they come to the room to take menus and bring trays.

And then of course, I like to think of myself as having hours to sit down and counsel patients, helping them to think through how to have optimal health and make changes to improve their dietary patterns.

In all reality, the past week and a half I have spent most of my time reading medical charts and running a calculator to assess the nutrient needs of patients. This week I am working in the ICU, so many of my patients are on tube feedings.

I read through the chart to find out what brought the patient to the hospital. Then I assess the calorie needs for the patient, based on their height, weight, and current condition. For example, patients that have traumatic brain injury have higher energy needs, and those with skin breakdown have elevated protein needs. I had learned the various needs for different conditions through classes, but it is extremely different when you have a real live person for whom you are calculating their nutrition!

Medical nutrition therapy is an integral part of the healing process, and it’s pretty neat to be a part of it.

Contrary to my opinion when I began my dietetic internship, I’m finding some aspects of clinical dietetics to be quite enjoyable. I suppose that is the purpose of this internship- to force myself to be exposed to various opportunities within the dietetics field where I might be able to work.

ps. The power is back on at my house! While I thoroughly enjoyed the “camping” experience, it’s nice to have modern amenities restored 🙂


Leave a comment

Employee Wellness

 Last year, West Virginia’s Dining Services was awarded a gold level National Excellence in Worksite Wellness honor by the Well Council of West Virginia. WVU Dining Services provides healthy food options, offers stretching and walking breaks, and provides semi-annual employee training and other stress management programs. Another component of making this a Well Workplace is to provide monthly newsletters about pertinent topics for employee wellness.

One of my projects at this rotation was to write an employee newsletter. I chose to focus on one of my favorite foods: beans! In addition, I also did some research and included information onstress management, physical activity, and smoking cessation. I’ve placed some exerpts from the newsletter here on the blog. If you want to see the finished publication, click to access the Wellness Program Newsletter.



Beans and peas are excellent sources of plant protein, fiber, folate, and potassium, and provide other important nutrients, like iron and zinc.

Because of all these great nutrients, studies have shown that eating 1/2 cup of cooked dried beans a day may help to lower total cholesterol levels. Commonly consumed beans and peas include:

Kidney beans 

Pinto Beans

Black Beans

Lima Beans

Black-eyed peas

Garbanzo beans

Split peas


Beans are inexpensive, and are available dry, canned, and frozen. If you don’t like the texture of whole beans, try pureeing them in a food processor or blender. Try adding a cup of beans to one of the following foods for variety and nutrition:

Spaghetti sauce black, kidney, or pinto

Omelets black beans

 Vegetable Salads chickpeas

And this is one of my very favorite Kitchen Tips:

Cook a large pot of beans, drain, and then spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After a few hours, place the beans in a plastic freezer bag. Anytime you need beans for a recipe, just pull out a handful or two!

Stress Management

Here are some approaches to help you manage stress:

Get other points of view. Talk with colleagues or friends. They may be able to provide insights or offer suggestions for coping. Just having someone to talk to can be a relief.

Take a break. Make the most of workday breaks. Even 10 minutes of personal time can be refreshing.

 Have an outlet. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Make sure to spend time on activities you enjoy, such as reading, socializing or pursuing a hobby.

Take care of yourself. Be vigilant about taking care of your health. Get regular exercise and plenty of sleep, and eat a healthy diet.

 Physical Activity

Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy — such as taking a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the parking lot or bus stop. Or, join an exercise class. Keep it interesting by trying something different on alternate days. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing. Try these activities:

At Home

Clean the house or wash the car.

Walk the dog — don’t just watch the dog walk.

Do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.

Walk, skate, or cycle more, and drive less

At Work

Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend to go with you.

Take part in an exercise program at work or a nearby gym.

Walk to your coworkers desk instead of sending an email.

At Play

Walk, jog, skate or bicycle on the Rail Trail.

Take a nature walk.

Play basketball, softball, or soccer.

Play tennis, racket ball, or volleyball.

Swim or do water aerobics

 Dealing with Tobacco Triggers

Which action steps are best for your needs?

After a meal: 

  • Leave the table immediately after I’m done eating. 
  • Brush my teeth or use gum or mints.
  • Get busy with chores or a fun activity.

Before driving my car or when driving: 

  • Remove smoking-related items.
  • Deodorize my car.
  • Pay at pump rather than go inside.

At work I will:

  • Try a new routine at break time, such as a crossword puzzle.
  • Identify a reward for completing a project or task.
  • Go for a walk with a co-worker during lunch.