Dietetics students gain experience, opportunities through volunteer work
By Deep Singal, Student, B.S. Program in Dietetics
How many dietetics students do you know? In 2014, San Francisco State University enrolled 29,465 students. Although the Consumer and Family Studies/Dietetics Department’s 86 dietetics students make up less than 0.5% of SF State’s student body, their volunteer work has a measurable impact on Bay Area communities.
Volunteer hours are responsible for opening the first of many doors leading dietetics students to their dream careers. Students use these experiences to discover the many unique ways in which they can make which contributions to Bay Area communities. A majority of the students serve in areas involving clinical, community, food service and research in nutrition. Dietetics students completed a total of 1,907 hours of community service over the first six months of 2016.
Certified public accountant and post-bachelor’s student Richard Kleinman acquires clinical nutrition experience at the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC). His patient interactions prepare him for a career in public health. Kleinman explains the accumulated experience helps him “understand the applicability and relevance of the academic curriculum.” Kleinman interviews four to five patients within a five-hour shift to better understand the nutritional challenges they face at the SFVAMC. He then relays the information to dietetic technicians who assist the patients by partnering with the registered dietitian to solve nutrition-related challenges.
Kleinman stresses the importance of providing “a friendly social visit to patients who enjoy the chance to talk to a visitor.” A majority of the patients Kleinman sees face fundamental life challenges such as homelessness in addition to their primary medical concerns. The SFVAMC allows for multiple opportunities to practice compassion. Kleinman is considering clinical, community and sports nutrition among other future career choices in the realm of dietetics.
The Dietetics Program at SF State is a tight-knit group of students with a variety of goals and interests. Volunteer hours completed by students provide an opportunity to encourage and connect students to marginalized populations. Students apply knowledge gained in the classroom to create connections with communities and non-profit agencies. Career opportunities in the field of nutrition and dietetics are available in several departments in hospitals, schools, outpatient clinics, the Armed Forces, research labs, marketing and more. As chronic diseases continue to impact a large number of Americans, the need for registered dietitians and nutrition experts will continue to grow. Let us work towards a more healthful standard, one patient, one client and one dietitian at a time.
Pictured: Richard Kleinman at the SF Veteran Affairs Medical Center