As an undergraduate student and dietetic intern, I always had a deep appreciation for the faculty members that delivered my education and the dietitians in various settings that patiently mentored me through the internship process. Each of these individuals played a vital role in shaping me into the professional I am today and inspiring me to play an active role in the profession to ensure its longevity. Now as a practicing dietitian, my love for the profession overflows in a way that I cannot help but want to share it with others, and therefore I openly welcome the opportunity to mentor students and interns.
Serving as a preceptor pushes me outside my comfort zone. It pushes me to be more organized, both in how I develop my thoughts in communicating my plan of care but also in the identification of resources for students to reference and utilize. It pushes me to better manage my time while balancing professional duties, time with patients and time mentoring my student. It has been vital in the development of my communication skills especially in modeling the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork and in providing constructive feedback to facilitate student learning.
Being a preceptor helps me to “stay on top of my game,” especially in regards to the latest practice and evidence-based guidelines within my specific area of practice. I also get to learn from my students and in turn, assist them in integrating that knowledge and develop the skills required to think on their feet, problem solve and become confident, competent practitioners. Working with students provides me with a platform in which to bounce off ideas, thoughts regarding a plan of care or to discuss pertinent issues within the profession.
Being a preceptor allows me to serve more confidently as a dietitian, knowing that I am leading serving as a role model for the future of the profession. It has undoubtedly increased my overall satisfaction as a dietitian while consistently motivating me to put my best foot forward in representing the profession. I am thankful for the opportunity to guide and facilitate the learning of students, teach critical thinking, professionalism, and culture competence and confidence in their skills and knowledge. While I will forever be in gratitude to the many dietitians that molded me into the professional I am today, it’s my pleasure to be able to return the favor in encouraging, mentoring and teaching the dietitians of tomorrow.
To all the students & interns I've had the opportunity to work with:
Thank YOU for letting me be a part of your professional journey!!!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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