BLOG: Beyond Clinical Dietetics
Before I began this internship, when I thought of dietitians, I thought of hospitals and clinics and helping those who were sick and/or malnourished or overweight. I knew of career opportunities within food-service operations and community settings, but the idea of dietitians working in the business setting had never crossed my mind. It was not until I did my health promotion rotation at J.W. Terrill that my eyes were opened to a whole new realm of dietetics: corporate wellness.
J.W. Terrill is a risk management and insurance brokerage firm. Within this company, there is a dietitian that serves as a wellness specialist. She works with various companies and their health insurance to implement wellness programs and bring about a healthier work environment for their employees. By putting programs in place to cut back on smoking, eat healthier, lose weight, etc., employees become healthier and have less health complications. This helps the company because they don't need to spend as much on healthcare for their employees.
I was only able to work with J.W. Terrill for two weeks, but during this time I was able to do quite a few different activities. First, I helped work at health fairs for various companies and their employees. At these health fairs, we would have handouts for employees to take with helpful tips on lowering cholesterol, losing weight, healthy snacks on the go, etc. A unique feature of our booth was our exotic fruit tasting. To encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables, we had samples of more unusual foods for people to try. Some of our exotic foods included:
Along with assisting at health fairs, I designed my very own wellness program, Shooting for the Green. This is a 4-week long golf-themed program designed to create healthier lunch habits in the workplace. Employees formed groups of four and would add or subtract points depending on their decisions at lunch. At the end of the 4 weeks, the team with the best score would receive a "wellness day off."
Lastly, I was able to help promote health and wellness throughout the J.W. Terrill company itself by taking pictures of employees of the company eating healthy lunches and hanging them around the building, conducting lunch and learns in which different topics were discussed, and running their current wellness program, which was a poker themed weight loss program.
While some interns may feel they would love to work within the clinical field or food-service area of dietetics, I definitely want to look further into the area of corporate wellness. I love working with this population and finding fun and interactive ways to create success in their lives. It is fun and encouraging to watch people succeed and become excited about making healthy changes in their lives.