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Ava Allan

Professor Petrisko

NUTR 409


Pediatrics Field Trip

There are many benefits as to why a children’s hospital should employ a

Registered Dietician (RD). The needs of infants, children and teenagers all vary.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that prevention of health risks in

children requires a systems-level approach that include the skills of registered

dietitians. Another hospital, Primary Children’s Hospital, described the role of a


dietician as those responsible for completing a nutrition assessment, monitoring

growth, implementing and monitoring special diets, assessing nutrition intake and

completing nutrition education for the child. The dietitians are also responsible

for tube-feeding and intravenous-feeding as well as the special formulas they

require. The benefit of having a dietitian in a children’s hospital is that they will

monitor the child’s growth and make recommendations to ensure optimal

nutrition status. The dietitians should use as many data points as possible to

identify and document the presence of malnutrition. 3

Rady Children’s Hospital has a handful of unique characteristics. They

have a team of twenty-five dietitians that specialize in nutrition regarding

diabetes, eating disorders, failure to thrive and many other nutritional risks. It is

also unique because it is a teaching hospital. This leads to a special work

environment that emphasizes no matter where you are in your career, everyone
is always learning something new. Depending on the day and the patients being

seen, a dietitian will roughly see eight patients a day. While many people may

have not been to the hospital, just about any person in San Diego recognizes

Rady’s Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The RMHCs provide a home

environment with support and resources for families and family rooms where

families have a chance to rest and regroup right in the hospital. They also offer

health care that specifically emphasizes on prevention.

Today, we met with Katie Reiter who explained what her job is like as a

pediatric RD. She described her work environment as one where she is always

learning and feels valued as a dietitian. Ms. Reiter enjoys her work place

because she feels there is a positive work culture and a solid team. The dietitians

learn to work with all different health risks so they are able to help each other out

or cover another person if they are unable to make it into work.

Ms. Reiter stated though she does not exactly have a typical day, she

spends a lot of her time in the pulmonary and cystic fibrosis units. She also

spends much of her time in the Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I learned that the PICU consists of infants

over three months whereas the NICU consists mostly of premature infants and

those under three months. When Ms. Reiter teaches classes at the hospital, she

teaches weight management classes to parents and their children.

To start her day, Ms. Reiter screens, makes rounds and prioritizes

patients. A consultation happens within twenty-four hours of a new patient being

admitted. Since the hospital does not have any dietetic technicians on staff, Ms.
Reiter has to get any formulas to the kitchen so they are available to the patients

for tube feeding later in the day. This is important as many of the patients are

disabled so they do not eat by mouth.

Overall, I thought Rady Children’s Hospital sounded like a great place to

work. It sounded like a community where the dietitians are supported by each

other as well as the doctors and nurses. Similar to our critical care field trip, I

wish we had been able to see any parts of the hospital, even if it was an empty

room or the office. However, I understand this is not always possible. I

appreciated that Ms. Reiter talked about her process in getting her job. I feel

much more confidant going into my internship this next year after hearing about

her experiences.

1. Becker P, Nieman, LC, Corkins MR, et al. Consensus Statement of the

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/American Society for Parenteral and

Enteral Nutrition. Nutr Clin Pract. 2014;30(1):147-161.

2. Role of the Dietitian. Intermountain Healthcare Website.

hospital/medical-services/nutrition-services/role-of-the-dietitian. Accessed

September 17, 2018.

3. Hoelscher DM, Kirk S, Ritchie L, et al. Position of the Academy of Nutrition

and Dietetics: Interventions for the Prevention and Treatment of Pediatric

Overweight and Obesity. J Am Diet Assoc. 2013;113(10):1375-1394.