Q&A session with Dan Coello for a feature on the BU Sargent Programs in Nutrition
By Caroline Kohler
Q: What is the most surprising/interesting thing you’ve learned in the DI?
A: That people make mistakes in healthcare, and sometimes they can be pretty bad mistakes. While now it seems like common sense that people would be making all sorts of mistakes at the hospital just like any other job, previously I had always held doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to a higher standard. Growing up I always expected them to be performing flawlessly, and that whatever they would diagnose me with or recommend I do was one hundred percent accurate. Of course, that’s not realistic, and being in the thick of it really made me realize that health professionals are simply people who make mistakes just like everyone else.
I think that because the actions and decisions health professionals make every day are so tangible and often have such important consequences many people tend to expect nothing less perfection. When it comes to your own personal health, you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a bad decision. This is completely understandable, but also completely unachievable. The best we can do as future and current health professionals is learn from our mistakes and make sure we respond in ways that reduce the likelihood of a mistake happening again.
Q: How have you grown as a professional during the first few months of your DI?
A: Learning to have confidence in your decisions is such an important skill to have when being a part of a medical team, especially as a dietitian. Unfortunately, dietitians have never been seen as the most important person at rounds, and the level of respect we are given varies from place to place. Making sure you are able to communicate confidently and effectively with doctors, nurses, and another staff is important not only for your own career goals and the reputation of the profession as a whole, but most importantly for the patient and their health goals.
At the beginning of the DI, I was intimidated by the residents and attendings. I didn’t want to look like a fool if I said something inaccurate or asked questions that could easily be answered with a more thorough reading of the patient’s chart. However, my confidence improved dramatically as I slowly realized that many of the residents, and even the attendings sometimes, really look to dietitians to fill in the nutritional blanks for them. I’ve been given a couple of glossy-eyed stares by some residents when describing a patient’s nutritional status or my reasoning for some decision. It’s not uncommon that they have gaps in their nutritional knowledge due to the required breadth of their training, so making sure to be calm, confident, and professional when interacting with the medical team is a valuable skill I have developed during my time at St. E’s.
Q: What did you do at the BMC teaching kitchen?
A: Though my time at the BMC teaching kitchen was brief, it was something that I got a lot out of. For 3 days I had the opportunity to work with the dietitian there and help teach a kids summer cooking camp. Each day parents would drop off their kids for a few hours to learn about cooking and whip up a fun recipe. Some of the recipes were actually pretty involved, and they all came out great; I was worried about how the food would taste once I saw the age of the kids we would be working with (6-10 years old). I would help them make salad dressings and roll out dough for pasta, along with a variety of other cooking skills. It was definitely a change of pace from inpatient nutrition, but it was a welcome change.
Q: What are your professional goals?
A: My passion is in community nutrition, so I expect to be working in that setting within a few years, if not immediately after finishing my DI. While I have enjoyed every aspect of the DI so far, be it inpatient or outpatient (yes, even food service was fun for me), I think I’m attracted to community nutrition because of how flexible and collaborate it can be. For a while I’ve worked with Brain Arts, a nonprofit based in Dorchester that provides resources and a venue for art and music in low resource areas. The staff is entirely volunteer, so you can feel the energy and know that everyone there is truly there because they want to be. I became fairly involved with them and helped a couple organizations, and they were always understanding of time constraints and we’re very flexible with how involved I wanted to become. I’ll be looking for something similar in the future, except the setting will be nutrition rather than art. There is so much potential to work with people outside of a hospital or clinic setting. Finding a welcoming community and building something people are really thankful for, be it a nutrition program or even something just related to health care, is something I hope I have the opportunity to do.
Looking for a Tax Deduction?
‘Tis the season for giving and we know you have many deserving causes to distribute your well-earned dollars to. We hope you will consider an organization near and dear to our hearts, and we hope yours: enabling the best people regardless of the ability to pay to enter the dietetics profession. The Massachusetts Dietitians Education Foundation is sorely in need of funds to continue to exist. This year, without a significant infusion of cash we will have to dip into our minimal reserves to provide scholarships to internships, undergraduate and graduate education for worthy candidates.
I know that you remember how expensive dietetic education can be and how long it can take to pay off the often crippling loans.
A small donation of only $5.00 from each of our members would allow us to provide three scholarships of $1,500 each this year. To donate:
- Click this link to go directly to the PayPal donation page.
- Go to the website at Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Massachusetts Dietitians Education Foundation (MDEF) and click on the PayPal donate button to make your contribution.
- Purchase culinary wares through RADA. MDEF receives approximately 40% of the purchase price. You can visit directly via this link or go to the website at Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Massachusetts Dietitians Education Foundation (MDEF) and click on the RADA cutlery link.
Thank you for your support and have a wonderful holiday season!
MAND Awards and Honors
TWO NEW AWARD OPPORTUNITIES THIS YEAR! Don’t miss this honorary opportunity to be recognized or to recognize your colleagues!
Every year, MAND offers multiple opportunities for outstanding members to be recognized in the following categories at ANCE and more and this year we have added OUTSTANDING DIETETICS EDUCATOR AND PRECEPTOR AWARD in addition to:
- Outstanding Dietetics Student
- Emerging Dietetic Leader
- Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year
- Outstanding Dietitian of the Year (Annie Galbraith Award)
Why should you apply for an award or nominate a colleague for an award?
Applying for an award is a fantastic way to be recognized for contributions to nutrition and dietetics in Massachusetts. Award honorees are recognized at a ceremony and reception each year during ANCE (MAND’s Annual Nutrition Convention and Exhibition), but receiving an award is much more than pure recognition.
The honor of being recognized in one of these categories is something that you will keep with you throughout your entire career in nutrition and dietetics. It is something that can go on your resume, it is a talking point in interviews, and it will always be something that sets you apart from your colleagues. Furthermore if you are new to the field of Dietetics, this can immensely boost your career opportunities and professional image.
The application process is simple. You need to fill out the application, and provide a resume and letters of support. That’s it!
The submission deadline for all applications is January 27th, 2020. Please visit the MAND website Scholarships and Awards page for additional information and applications as they become available.
Contact Shelby Burns, Awards Chair, with any additional questions.
Topic Consideration Deadline: Last day of each month
Approved Articles due by: 15th of the month
Please send all submissions to: Laura Kim and Sierra Parker, editors of Today@MAND: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any Academy member, no matter their state of residency, can select MAND as their affiliate association. We welcome members from all locations! MAND members who have chosen another affiliate state may inquire about how to become a Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Supporter Member and start receiving all MAND benefits by e-mailing MAND’s Administrative Director, Maureen Kelly Gonsalves, MEd, RD, at email@example.com.