Professional Development | Oct 13 2017
A peek inside life as a travel dietitian
Marysville, CA with Kelsey Sergison, MS, RDN, LDN
If you’re looking for a dietitian job that will teach you flexibility, prioritizing, how to adapt to any situation, how to see the big picture and the value of teamwork — traveling dietitian may be just the ticket!
Since March 2016, Kelsey Sergison, MS, RDN, LDN has worked seven different assignments as a temporary dietitian for Dietitians On Demand. And in just the past nine months, she traveled across the country experiencing more than she ever anticipated and learning lessons — both clinical and life — along the way.
Kelsey started with Dietitians On Demand as a regional traveling dietitian in California right after completing her graduate program. For her first six months she took short-term and part-time positions within an hour or two of her home base of LaVerne, Calif.
These assignments initiated her travel itch, and left her wanting to explore more than just southern California. So when an assignment opened up seven hours north at a 150-bed acute care hospital in Marysville, CA, Kelsey pounced on it.
Kelsey was contracted for an 8-week assignment to help cover an open RD position and the launch of a few new additions to the hospital on the heels of approval from state surveyors. However, as state surveyors will do, they arrived later than anticipated, and their arrival coincided with Kelsey’s first day!
“It was an interesting start,” Kelsey said and laughed.
That day Kelsey teamed up with Jasmine, the Clinical Nutrition Manager, to do whatever was necessary to get the new addition approved.
“I don’t think I saw patients for the first week or two because of survey,” Kelsey said. Instead, she helped in the kitchen doing nutrient analysis, cleaning and working with the speech pathologist on food textures.
“I was glad to be there and help in any way I could,” she said. “They were so thankful and overall, it gave me a new appreciation of the whole hospital food service process.”
Eventually Kelsey got into a regular routine and was seeing 12-15 patients each day, but right around Valentine’s Day, she found herself in another interesting situation.
“I got a text from Jasmine over the weekend that said, ‘If you’re able to come into work tomorrow, please come in because we have no kitchen staff.’ That was my first clue that something was wrong, but at that time I didn’t know what. She asked me to get there in time to help with breakfast the next morning.”
Turns out Marysville was under a flood warning and an evacuation was underway because a nearby dam was pushed to its brink.
Kelsey arrived the next morning to a virtually empty kitchen. Because of the flood threat, nearly all the staff evacuated Marysville with their families, leaving a skeleton nutrition crew managing the meal service and clinical needs of the hospital.
Kelsey, Jasmine and a few others worked 12-hour days for a week delivering meals and still making their clinical rounds, maintaining their patient load of 12-15 per day. They would serve breakfast, see patients; serve lunch, see more patients; then serve dinner before finally going home for the day.
“If we hadn’t been there, these patients wouldn’t have had any food,” Kelsey said.
Because of the trying situations they came through together, Kelsey and Jasmine remain in touch today.
“I learned so much about how to be a good leader from Jasmine, and staying calm and level-headed in a stressful situation,” Kelsey said. “All in all, it was a great experience, we basically opened a new hospital. I know that experience will stick with me forever.”
What Kelsey learned
Life Lesson: “How to react in a stressful situation — remain calm and prioritize.”
Clinical Lesson: “I did a lot of parenteral nutrition in Marysville. One of the other RDs was a CNSC and he spent a lot of time with me teaching me about it.”
This is the first of three blogs chronicling Kelsey’s travel assignments across the country. Check back to read about her assignments in Santa Fe, NM and Savannah, GA!
Dietitians On Demand is a nationwide staffing company for registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long term care and food service positions. Check out our job openings, or request your coverage today!
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Dietitians On Demand is the nationwide leader in providing dietitians with jobs they love. If flexibility, competitive pay, a full benefits package, free CPEUs each month and a team dedicated to dietitians sound good to you, apply to our positions today.