By: Grace Horgan
Have you ever experienced something that is exciting and scary at the same time? That’s exactly how I felt when I took to the stage at the Maryland Dietetics in Health Care Communities (MD DHCC AND) Fall Workshop. As part of my internship experience, I was asked to introduce a speaker to the large group of dietitians at the conference so that I could practice public speaking. As soon as I received the speaker’s bio, I immediately started practicing in hopes I wouldn’t make a mistake.
Prior to this event, my partner Claire and I had analyzed data from the spring 2019 MD DHCC workshop, so we had a sense of how the day was going to proceed. This data was collected and analyzed in hopes of making adjustments and improvements based on member preferences. This was the first big nutrition conference I attended and I was very excited! My classmates and I got to help throughout the day; besides introducing all of the speakers, we greeted guests at the door, checked in members at the registration desk and helped with anything else that needed to be done for the day to run smoothly. These tasks not only allowed us to practice our public speaking skills in front of a large audience, but also gave us the opportunity to meet the speakers one-on-one and talk to them about their presentation or topic.
The first speaker of the day, who I got to introduce, was Pam Curerton. Pam spoke about Celiac Disease (CD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This is currently a hot topic and members were very receptive and had many questions. This presentation gave me a better understanding of the disease and treatment methods that are being used. CD can be very complex in terms of the different antibodies involved, and what the levels of each antibody mean in a person. Many patients are miss diagnosed with CD and mislead on what they are supposed to do to manage their disease. I felt this presentation cleared up many points of confusion and was beneficial to anyone seeing patients with CD.
A lot of work went into preparing the program for the fall workshop. I was very impressed with all of the speakers and the program as a whole. Sitting at a table with other dietitians gave me the chance to talk with them about their jobs and their specific areas of practice. They were also excited to learn about our internship and our rotations. It was fun to connect with them! One of the presenters for the day spoke on the new insurance guidelines and how that was going to affect dietitians pay rate and the way charting was done. I did not know anything about how this was done before the presentation, but the two dietitians at our table were very familiar with this topic and were able to tell us about their jobs in dialysis and long-term care and how this specifically affected them.
Not only did this event give me public speaking experience, it also allowed me to connect with other dietitians in the field. I am looking forward to the spring workshop where we will get to present our posters to the whole group. Overall, I was very pleased with the entire day and learned a lot from all of the speakers.