Hospital Food Service

Good morning from the Causeway bridge!  Picture taken around 4:15 AM.

You are probably thinking to yourself: “Lauren, what the hell are you doing driving across Lake Pontchartrain at such an ungodly hour of the day?”  To which I say, this is a perfectly legitimate question.  The only answer is that some people are crazy and last week was Thanksgiving and I had a doctors appointment.  So.  4:00 it is.

I know that explains nothing, so here it is: I’m working at St. Tammany Hospital for my hospital food service rotation for two weeks.  In order to get all the hours in despite last week’s holiday, I’m here at 5AM all week, when I come in and set up the hot line for breakfast (i.e.  make pancakes and french toast).  My preceptor has made a detailed schedule in which we do not only the job of the food service dietitian, but Alyssa and I get to experience the job of every single kitchen, cafeteria, and “preference dining specialist” worker.

So far, we’ve cooked, plated up meals on the tray line, cooked, prepped, set up the cafeteria, served breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, written articles for the hospital’s newsletter, performed various human resources tasks, proposed new menu items, and discussed the managerial work that goes into the food service RD’s position.  Later we’ll be going over financial stuff, sitting in on a manager’s meeting, surveying patients, giving an in service, taking inventory, and receiving deliveries, among other things.  It is definitely helpful to see everything that goes into delivering a hot meal specific to a patient’s diet to their room in a timely manner, especially here where patients have an incredible variety of options.  It really makes you understand WHY there is such high turnover in the business and gets you thinking about HOW you would make changes to satisfy both your staff and your customers – it’s tricky!

As bad as it seems, it’s nice not to be bored.  However, 9.5 hours at the hospital in combination with an hour commute in both directions leaves a girl pretty darn drained.  If the refrigerator wasn’t full of leftovers from thanksgiving I would definitely be living off spoonfulls of peanut butter and coffee.  Food service is notorious for being an intern’s worst nightmare, and I can say with confidence that this is not an area that I want to work in.  Hopefully next week’s specialty rotation will be better!

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