Samford University’s School of Public Health recognized its 2022 cohort of dietetic interns during the program’s annual White Coat Ceremony on Jan. 14.
The cohort of 16 interns has already completed the first four months of the 16-month, post-baccalaureate program, which fulfills the requirements from the Commission on Dietetic Registration to become eligible for the registered dietitian exam. The ceremony included a presentation of a white coat to each intern, representing the beginning of their year of clinical rotations.
“Some programs award white coats at the end of the internship as a symbol of going out into the workplace as a medical professional,” said Amy Cameron, instructor and director of the dietetic internship. "But you are putting on your white coats today in this ceremony that emphasizes our confidence in your ability to become a compassionate and knowledgeable dietitian."
Alumnus Kaitlyn Waugaman ‘17 served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker, sharing how understanding shame, providing empathy and establishing connections are crucial to a career as a registered dietitian.
“I think you all will agree with me when I say dietitians are passionate people. We love people, and we love food. Specifically, we love helping people through food,” she said. “Whether we are working with a breast-feeding mother, a patient with diabetes who is struggling to manage his blood sugar, or a person with obesity who is scared to eat in front of family and friends, we are working with someone who is being vulnerable, trying to ask for support. For us to connect with these patients, we must connect with something in ourselves.”
Waugaman works as a program manager with UAB Preventive Medicine, and in her remarks, she shared how the road to her career was not easy. She encouraged the current cohort to remember that the setbacks they face in life do not define what they are capable of.
“If anything, your setbacks are making you a better, more empathic dietitian. God has a plan for you. You are right where you are supposed to be,” she said.