NATICK, Mass. (May 19, 2016) -- During Natick Soldier Systems Center's Annual Dietetic Intern Day on May 18, researchers from both the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine's Military Nutrition Division and the Combat Feeding Directorate from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center hosted nearly 80 dietetic interns.
During this event, dietitians, researchers and Soldiers showcased the various roles and opportunities for dietitians in Army science with the goal of informing and exciting these future dietitians about research career paths in warfighter health and readiness.
"This annual event is organized to expose dietetic interns who are working in the greater Boston area to the professional opportunities that are available for registered dietitians within the Department of Defense," said Dr. Scott Montain, the division chief of USARIEM's MND. "Dietetic Intern Day is a proven vehicle for attracting bright, energetic dietitians, as evidenced by the fact that several of our staff and current fellows were exposed to the career opportunities within NSSC via this event."
The interns, who are from various dietetic internship programs around Boston and surrounding areas, learned about the research being done to build and improve military rations and encourage healthy eating behaviors, and they participated in a food ration tasting activity. Later, they took a guided tour to meet various researchers from USARIEM and Combat Feeding.
Adrienne Hatch and Nicholes Armstrong, two USARIEM research dietitians who helped organize this year's event, previously were dietetic interns themselves. They were enthusiastic about this educational opportunity.
"This event provides interns the opportunity to hear about researchers' career paths, research and educational backgrounds to better understand all the various ways Soldier and civilian dietitians merge into this work setting," Hatch said. "They get to learn all about a research dietitian's roles and responsibilities."
"We are doing the research day to give the interns a hands-on visit to see if this is the type of career they would be interested in," Armstrong added. "The nutrition research conducted here is unique and targeted at helping military personnel, and I think the experience will be very eye-opening for these interns."
According to Armstrong and Hatch, Dietetic Intern Day is a chance for USARIEM and Combat Feeding to educate interns, who would not have known about these career opportunities, on ways to break into the military nutrition research field.
"Dietetic Intern Day is a great way for interns to learn a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes in military nutrition," Hatch said. "It is also an opportunity for us to give back to the nutrition community, as we have the chance to educate future professionals about dietetic career opportunities within the DoD."
"I was one of those interns last year," Armstrong said. "This event is a great way to shape these future dietitians."