It’s been two weeks since I began calling Jackson home. After my graduate classes wrapped up at the end of July, I spent two weeks in Birmingham where I watched Netflix all day and refused to open my laptop. After two weeks of resting, I traveled back to Hattiesburg one last time for orientation before heading to Jackson permanently to begin my internship.
This semester of my internship is being spent rotating through the various aspects of the management side of the dietetic field. I began my rotations on Monday August 17th at Mississippi State Hospital or Whitfield Hospital. For those who are unfamiliar with this area, this hospital provides treatment to those suffering from a mental illness or chemical dependency as well as an on-site nursing home facility. I use the term hospital lightly because Whitfield is more of a residential campus than a hospital. The campus is comprised of 300 acres of land with over 100 buildings that were built in the 1920s and 1930s. Going into this rotation, I imagined a creepy facility that would be the prime location for a scary movie but the hospital is exactly the opposite. The campus is absolutely beautiful and has a quiet southern charm to it.
The food service operation at the hospital is G I N O R M O U S. They provide 3 meals a day along with snacks to roughly 900 patients/ residents as well as 35 men at the MDOC. There is a cafeteria for the hospital staff and well as a cafeteria for those patients who are permitted to eat offsite from their assigned building. The last two weeks I’ve been rotating through every aspect of the kitchen. This includes all of the sections of food production (bakery, entrees, salads, puree, snacks). I’ve helped to deliver food to buildings, watch the building staff serve the patient meals, and personally served meals to patients in the cafeteria. I helped with the receiving of food items (think huge Sysco truck, 4am, and me in an industrial sized freezer counting boxes of French toast sticks) and I’ve worked a day in the diet office (think 9 hours of me answering phone calls about things that I have no idea about and cutting pieces of paper in half for the tray tickets). I’ve also gotten the chance to help with the finances by paying bills and ordering food.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this rotation. During my undergrad classes, I never had an interest in foodservice and to be honest, I still don’t think it’s the area for me. That being said, I have the utmost respect for anyone who chooses to work in a foodservice operation, especially one in a hospital-like setting. The work is long and tiring and pay is not enough for the work actually being done. I’ve witnessed employees go above and beyond what their job description entails and that’s a huge reflection on the great management staff as well as the company.
In two weeks, I will be taking a break from the State Hospital until November. During my break from the facility I will spend two weeks in the Clinton School System, one week at the Jackson Health Department (WIC), and four weeks at St. Dominic’s Hospital. If I had it my way, I would spend my entire management rotation at the State Hospital. I’ve been here two weeks but I’ve grown to love the people and the community that the foodservice staff has. I know the fact that I’m not completely miserable during this rotation is all Jesus. Before I had even been accepted into an internship, I asked God that if it was his will for me to become an intern, that He would surround me with great people that would hold my values as well as those that I would be able to be an example too. And like always, God delivered, and for that I will be forever grateful.
“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Internship Countdown: 2 weeks down, 31 weeks to go!