Life As A Travel Dietitian
A Behind The Scenes Look at How Janet Prepares
By Janet Feinstein, RD, LD, CNSC
I have been a travel dietitian for more than two years. I have been to Hawaii, Florida, California and back to the east coast.
Even though each of my destinations are very different in culture, climate and work environment, I prepare for each in the same manner.
Step 1: Research the location
Once you have accepted a position, research the area. What is the weather for the time of year, or are you between seasons. What are the living arrangements, working environment as well as types of activities for non-work times. Is there a uniform for work?
Step 2: Pack
After those questions are answered, I can begin packing. When flying, I need to balance my work clothes with my weekend clothes. I also, leave some room for personal items to make my stay more like home; I always travel with my own pillow and throw blanket. If I am driving to my destination, I have the freedom of bringing more, but have found that I don’t always need more. I am becoming more efficient with each new contract. I have even started to pack in plastic bins and leave all hanging clothes on hangars for ease of organizing.
Step 3: Research the Facility
I then research the facility to determine what types of patients will I be assessing. I have kept a binder with a variety of resources that I carry with me from assignment to assignment. I add more information as I work in each different facility. I try to find out what type of computer system is used for documenting, too. I have learned and used four different systems throughout my travels.
Step 4: First Day Questions Are Always the Same
On my first day of work, all questions are in regard to the facility:, types of patients, any passcodes I need, as well as where is the bathroom and the procedure for meals. Some facilities have given me vouchers, some have allowed only drinks while at others I have been able to enjoy full meals.
I try to learn as much as I can on the first day, being a traveler, there is not always a second day with a trainer.
Most important, be flexible. No two places are alike. Each facility, computer program, culture and population are different, as well as actual job. I have done clinical, kitchen management, training of diet staff, mentoring a CDM student as well as mentoring many dietetic interns.
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