Abby Rudlong, BS Dietetics
Dietetic Intern, Wellness Workdays
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Tell us about yourself, education, your background, and your current interests.
I grew up in Spring Valley, MN on a hobby farm that includes cattle, chickens, a horse, cats, and dogs. I love being on the farm, spending time with my family, four-wheeling, gardening in the summers, and enjoying the peace and quiet that the rural area offers. I also love sports and spending time outside hiking or biking.
I obtained my bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stout where I spent 3 years completing the dietetic program. In my dietetic internship, I am beginning my clinical rotation, my last rotation. I have enjoyed the clinical side of dietetics, especially patient education. One of my main interests is weight loss and weight management. I am a big wellness advocate and love the idea of being part of a fitness program that relies on nutrition and physical activity to achieve health goals.
This spring will be exciting for me not only because I will be complete my internship and will finally be eligible to take the RD exam, but also because I will be marrying my absolute best friend in May! It has been a busy time planning our wedding while interning full-time!
How did you become interested in nutrition?
My interest in nutrition started while being on my high school basketball team. One of my teammates often talked about the foods and supplements she used to fuel for and recover from games. That experience encouraged me to pay greater attention to the food I was eating and how it was fueling my body. A couple of years after high school, my parents were experiencing health issues that motivated them to research various diets and go on several “health kicks.” This increased my curiosity of how food can be used as medicine for our bodies. I also wanted to go into the healthcare field but did not want to become a nurse or physician. After contemplating going to school for physical therapy, I found out about the career of a dietitian and went with it.
In your first rotation as a dietetic intern, you worked with the Minnesota Gophers, a collegiate Big Ten football team. Tell us about that experience and something you learned.
My time with the Minnesota Gophers was extremely busy! From creating handouts and flyers for the football team, to developing new recipes and fueling snacks for the players it was an experience where I performed many tasks. While there, I realized one of the biggest challenges was keeping athletes hydrated and maintaining adequate body weight. With this, I learned many effective ways to promote hydration, weight gain and maintenance. I also learned how flexible you must be with your schedule if you are going to work with a sports team. It requires many long hours, with early mornings and late nights, but it is worth it if that is where your passion lies.
What other experiences have you had in nutrition?
I have been blessed with wonderful experiences throughout my internship. One rotation I really enjoyed was working at a nonprofit organization called Open Arms of Minnesota. They prepare and deliver medically tailored meals to people living with chronic illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, MS, renal disease, etc. I worked in the organization’s urban gardens, prepared and packaged food in the kitchen, and delivered meals directly to the client’s door, along with many administrative projects such as recipe development. I also worked with a school foodservice director where I performed office work, visited the cafeterias, and talked to the students, as well as worked alongside staff in the kitchens.
My first clinical experience was at a long-term care facility. It was a very busy and productive rotation, with lots of assessments and charting! I am now continuing with my clinical experience at a clinic where I work in the patient education department. I love the education side because it gives me a sense that I am equipping others with important tools and knowledge they need to succeed in their goals of living a healthier life.
What are your professional goals? Once you become a registered dietitian, what kind of work do you want to do?
My short-term goal is to obtain a position working as a clinical dietitian. I feel like this is a setting where I will be able to learn a lot very quickly, due to so many different cases being presented. Within the clinical setting I enjoy the many educational opportunities, whether it be for diabetes, bariatric surgery, weight loss, etc.
I am very interested in wellness, and to broaden my scope I would like to obtain my personal trainer certification and then become a certified wellness coach. My long-term goal is to begin a weight loss and weight maintenance program that utilizes nutrition and physical activity to improve health. The emphasis would be on making healthy eating and activity FUN and a way of LIFE, because I truly believe they are!
Is there anything else you would like to share with other students?
Never say no to an opportunity because you don’t believe you are qualified. You won’t be perfect at things the first time you do them; it takes practice and experience. So, be as involved as you can and be creative with how you do things, because everybody has a different style. We can all learn from each other no matter what stage we are at, so share your ideas and be proactive!