My last two weeks have been spent in my WIC rotation. My first morning was an introduction to the facility and the program, and then I spent the afternoon/evening observing how things run there and how the RDs work with the clients. By the end, though, I was doing some of the education components and even some MNT counseling sessions!
The RDs at the facility I was at do both WIC and MNT counseling because they’re associated with a medical center. This was nice for me because after 12 weeks of admin/food service, community and pediatrics, I was feeling a little shaky on my counseling skills and was beginning to dread going to clinicals because I was afraid that I’d forgetten everything! With the MNT counseling over the last couple of weeks, I can’t help but think of swimming – at first it was like I was doggy paddling in to remind myself I could swim but by the end I was comfortably doing basic freestyle and occasionally trying something a little more complicated. In other words, it was confidence-building. Most of the time, the topics I was covering during MNT counseling sessions were weight loss and diabetes management.
While a lot of the MNT was with male and non-pregnant female adults, a lot of the WIC education was geared toward pregnant women, infants, and young children under 5… which is a huge change from what I’m used to working with. I had to brush up on a lot of information. Not having children of my own yet and having only babysat children who were already in pre-school or later, it was sometimes a little hard for me to remember the different developmental signs we look for in infants to gauge readiness for different things (sippy cups, solid foods, etc). Whenever there was downtime, I would re-read notes on child development, notes from my pediatrics rotation, go through the handouts they had, and ask the RDs a lot of questions.
I also spent time with the lactaction consultants. One of my classmates in grad school was studying to be a lactation consultant (and became one shortly after graduation), so I already had gleaned a basic understanding of breastfeeding and some familiarity with the terms associated with it. Still, the crash-course I got on lactaction while at WIC was a lot more in-depth than the casual information I had received from my classmate. I was already aware of the “breast is best” campaign for breastfeeding, criticisms of the campaign, and some of the contraindications for breastfeeding, but I learned a lot more about all of those from the lactation consultants. I also ended up watching a bunch of videos of cues to look for from a breastfeeding baby. The lactation consultant I spent the most time with absolutely adored the YouTube music video “Teach me How to Breastfeed.” It’s definitely worth a watch if you have no clue about breastfeeding.
At WIC, I worked with clients of many different levels of education. Some patients were completing high school while others had completed advanced degrees. The clients at WIC also covered all stages of readiness so one of the big lessons I had to learn was to just plant the seed for future change and accept that it wasn’t a failure on my part if the client was in precontemplation and didn’t want to progress to contemplation. There was also a huge variety in cultures and I worked with different translators and interpreters. The Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters has really good information about working with translators and interpreters.
Having completed the pediatrics rotation before WIC was a huge help, but the two rotations were very different. With pediatrics, the babies and children were all in the hospital so it was a lot of nutrition support- I just had to be okay with the fact that my calculations would result in small answers. With WIC, the babies and children were all pretty healthy and the focus was more on child and parent behaviors centered around nutrition so it was a lot of counseling and education.
I’m really glad I had my WIC rotation after pediatrics and before jumping into my clinicals. It worked as a nice transition and now I’m not so stressed about clinicals as I was before.
- WIC nutritional program will close alongside children’s clinic (northcountrypublicradio.org) – Canton, NY
- Funding secured to continue WIC program (myfox8.com) – Raleigh, NC
- WIC: More than a check, it’s a village every mother and child need (momsrising.org)
- Jamisha Undercover Pt. 2: Planning Meals on a Limited Income (jamishawilliams.wordpress.com)