Farah Mardini is part of the 2020-2021 Dietetic Internship class at UC Davis Medical Center. Farah is from Damascus, Syria. She moved to Santa Rosa in 2012 and went on to complete her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to the Dietetic Internship, Farah worked as a Nutrition Marketing and Communications intern where she helped to publish content for a nutrition counseling website. She also completed an Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program at her University and worked as an intern in the Intensive Care Unit at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. During her undergraduate career she tutored a variety of subjects including: Nutrition, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Zoology, Physics, and Mathematics. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing and even served as the Salsa Dance class Director at U.C. Berkeley. Thank you for sharing your insights, Farah!
Interviewer: Why did you choose the UC Davis Medical Center Dietetic Internship?
Farah: When I was applying for dietetic internships, I was looking into institutions that would provide me with the utmost extensive experience in clinical nutrition. UCDMC is a large multispecialty academic health center. Within its tertiary health care center, I knew that I would have exposure to a wide patient pool and to diverse conditions and disease states. Completing my internship at UCDMC will allow me to build a large foundation upon which I can give the best guidance and support throughout my looming career. I feel honored to be an intern at this hospital and to be a part of a holistic multidisciplinary team.
Interviewer: What is the greatest lesson you have learned so far during this internship?
Farah: One of the greatest lessons that I have learned thus far is the importance of communicating with the members of the healthcare team. I have found that working closely with other healthcare professionals is vital for nutrition assessment and developing nutrition interventions. Discussions with other team members have also aided me in unearthing specific details about patient’s conditions, which in turn helps me with nutrition diagnosis and establishing the most appropriate nutritional goals for patients.
Interviewer: What have you found to be your greatest challenge?
Farah: Due to the pandemic, we are now required to wear face masks and face shields on the units, which can affect the level of interaction between a patient and a healthcare professional. Non-verbal cues are a large part of daily communications between individuals. Wearing a face mask can limit our ability to convey empathy as they conceal engaging and reassuring facial expressions that provide a sense of comfort for patients. It has been difficult initiating interactions with patients without being able to greet them with a smile.
Interviewer: What has been your greatest accomplishment during your internship year?
Farah: My greatest accomplishment thus far is being able to develop the skills and ability to build rapport with patients and interact with them in a way that takes into account both their physical and emotional needs. For example, it’s important to acknowledge that while some patients may be engaged, eager, and ready for diet education, others may need alternative types of support at the time. I have learned the value in ensuring that our goals of care align with the goals patients have for themselves.
Interviewer: Prior to starting your dietetic internship what were your career goals and have they changed while going through the internship?
Farah: I came into the UCDMC dietetic internship with an open mind, eager to gain experience in different specialties within clinical nutrition and anticipating that my career goals may possibly change after my completion of the program. I am currently interested in Maternal and Pediatric nutrition, as well as Critical Care nutrition. Since I am only two months into the program, I have not yet completed my pediatric and ICU rotations. I look forward to starting these rotations in the near future and discovering how my experiences may influence my career goals moving forward.
Interviewer: If you could give any piece of advice to future interns, what would it be?
Farah: My advice to future interns is to be flexible and enjoy learning. As interns, we work with new preceptors every few weeks and each of them has unique specialties, skill sets, and teaching styles. The preceptors here at UCDMC are wonderful and they have so much knowledge to share with interns. I would advise future interns to come into the hospital every day with an open mind, ready to ask questions, and engage in discussions that can expand their understanding. The application process, as well as adjusting to this new environment can be overwhelming, but it will pay off in terms of experience!