CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 19, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University graduate student Alyssa Pingel of Perryville, Missouri, is helping improve the lives of others as a dietetics intern this year at SoutheastHealth.
Pingel, a student dietitian for Weight Loss Warriors at Southeast, will spend six months of her internship at Southeast Health. She is currently with the food and nutrition services department and management team, where she says she is learning how to successfully run a food service operation. She is observing food production and ordering, and learning how to conduct inventory, maintain a safe and clean work environment, plan menus, budget and be an effective manager. She says she has enjoyed working to continuously improve patient food and efficiency of the tray line to patients.
“I understand how critical it is for patients in the hospital to eat an adequate amount to promote healing, and how important it is to the patient to get their meal on time,” Pingel said. “Typically, people in the hospital have higher calorie needs as their body is trying to heal. Providing tasty foods helps support their increased needs.”
When she graduates, Pingel says she would like to work in an outpatient setting where she can educate patients on diabetes health and other nutrition related topics, but she is also interested in pediatric nutrition, oncology nutrition and working in a clinical setting.
Pingel said she was ecstatic when she found out she was selected as one of seven participants in Southeast’s highly competitive graduate dietetic internship program. Students must complete a 1,200-hour accredited post-graduate dietetic internship before they can sit for the national credentialing exam. Interns work in hospitals, health departments, schools, long-term care facilities and industry with 12 weeks spent in management, 12 weeks in a clinical setting and 10 weeks in various community settings.
Dr. Anne Marietta, associate professor of human environmental studies, said the average grade point average of the seven participating in the graduate internship this fall is 3.56.
“That’s how competitive it is,” she said.
Other graduate interns are working this fall with Chartwells Dining Services on campus, Southeast Health, Saint Francis Medical Center, , Missouri Delta Medical Center and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, and Sikeston Public Schools.
Pingel said that when entering high school, her mom joked that she should become a dietitian to keep her healthy and in shape as she got older.
“I have always been interested in health and nutrition, but before that moment, I did not know I could have a career in it,” Pingel said. “So I started doing my research and learned that as a dietitian I could help people have a happy and healthier life by educating them on proper nutrition.”