IPE in Action Blog - Dietetics

Dietetics and Pharmacy Students Team Up to Provide Quality Disease Management 

By Mariam Eid and Bailey Irvin
June 16, 2020
Below is the 5th blog in this series and is written by Mariam Eid and Bailey Irvin, dietetic interns in UT Austin’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics. They are scheduled to graduate in August 2020 and will be eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam in September 2020. They describe their experience as consultants in the Interprofessional Peer Health Consulting Program during the spring 2020 semester where they provided consultation for a team of student pharmacists. Veronica Young, Director of the Center for Health IPE, served as the faculty advisor to help foster interprofessional collaboration among the students. 
Mariam Eid Photo Pictured: Mariam Eid
Describe the role of a dietician and the project you consulted on.
A dietitian is a food expert who treats nutritional problems in a variety of settings, including hospitals, communities, and long-term care facilities. A dietitian's role is especially critical in managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, through nutritional modifications to optimize the patient's quality of life and prevent disease progression.
We served as Interprofessional Health Peer Consultants for a UT pharmacy student team, working to develop nutritional modifications for the Community Coalition for Health Adult Diabetes Program. This program has a twofold mission: to provide resources to adults who have diabetes in order to empower them to better manage their disease and to address health disparities in the Central Texas region.
The pharmacy student team presented us with a set of ~20 recipes submitted by the participants in the Adult Diabetes program. Our role as dietetic interns was to provide ingredient modifications and serving size recommendations for each recipe to enhance participants’ nutritional adequacy and diabetic friendliness, whilst maintaining the cultural integrity of the recipe. The main themes of our modifications included increasing fiber, decreasing refined carbohydrates, decreasing saturated fats, and increasing unsaturated fats. Our goal was to nutritionally modify no more than two ingredients per recipe such that the modified recipe remains applicable and culturally relevant to the participant. We also assisted in data analysis by quantifying the macronutrient distribution of each recipe and comparing the recipe's nutritional content before and after our recommended ingredient modifications.
Irvin Photo
Pictured: Bailey Irvin
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your experience in this program?
We joined the pharmacy team in late February 2020, just before the pandemic and subsequent social distancing requirements drastically impacted Travis County. This situation presented us with some logistical issues. For example, the pandemic prevented us from being able to directly interact with the participants in the Adult Diabetes Program. Initially, the participants were set to receive our modifications and provide us with in-person feedback to improve our nutritional modifications. However, in light of the pandemic, we received feedback remotely.
What was your experience like joining the pharmacy student team? How did you manage adjusting your communication with the pharmacy team with restrictions related to COVID-19?
Despite the social distancing measures, the pharmacy students were highly professional, communicative, and collaborative. They valued our opinions greatly and promptly responded to any of our feedback and questions related to the project. We were able to stay connected through Zoom calls and emails. We really appreciated their flexibility during these unprecedented circumstances.
How is this program valuable to dietetics students? How do you think it benefited the pharmacy students you collaborated with? 
The Interprofessional Peer Health Consulting Program allowed us, the dietetic interns, to understand the role of pharmacists in patient care, especially in lifestyle interventions. Additionally, this experience outlined the paths where pharmacists and dietitians intersect and how important it is for us to work collaboratively to achieve optimal patient care. Our partnership is especially critical when it comes to treating preventable disease, such as diabetes and hypertension, from a primary healthcare perspective. We hope that as a result of this collaboration, the pharmacy students gained an understanding of the value of a dietitian in overall patient care. Given that many chronic diseases are managed and prevented with nutrition therapy, it is critical for pharmacists, dietitians, and other clinicians to work interprofessionally to improve the patient's quality of life and overall health outcomes.
Click here to learn more about the Interprofessional Health Consulting Program.  
Email us to contribute your own entry about your interprofessional practice experience.