Rachel Parker, R.D., C.N.S.C.

Rachel Parker, R.D., C.N.S.C., is a UC Davis Medical Center dietetic internship alumnus (2015 graduating class) who currently works at Kaiser Oakland Medical Center. Rachel specializes as an inpatient clinical dietitian, where she precepts a core clinical rotation for dietetic interns. Rachel believes in the importance of service, and as such has served on the boards of local dietetics organizations such as NOCSPEN and the Diablo Valley District of CAND. Rachel graduated from California State University, Chico in 2013 with a degree in Nutrition and Food Science. 

Alumnus Interview

Q: Prior to starting UC Davis Medical Center's dietetic internship what were your career goals?

Rachel: I was generally interested in clinical but otherwise unsure prior to starting the internship. One of the reasons I was really interested in the UC Davis program was the wide variety of unique clinical experiences and specialties - I wanted to try everything! I was curious to try on all the different hats that dietitians can wear.

Q: When the year was done and you had completed the internship, did your career goals change? If so, how?

Rachel: When the year was done and the internship was over, I had clarity that I wanted to be an inpatient clinical dietitian. I was especially interested in the intensive care unit. The experience of rounding in the multiple intensive care units at UCDMC gave me a love for the teaching environment and nutrition support.

Q: What was the greatest lesson you took away from your year long internship?

Rachel: The greatest lesson I learned was the importance of good communication and how to communicate well with different members of the care team. UCDMC gave me the opportunity to discuss cases with residents, speech therapists, pharmacists, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners, which helped me build communication skills that I use to this day in my career. It is important for dietitians to be an active team member and feel comfortable contributing in a large and diverse group setting. The environment at UCDMC was the perfect place to recognize the importance of that skill and be given the opportunity to practice it. I especially enjoyed and learned the most from my conversations with my peers who were also interns or students.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your internship class year?

Rachel: My favorite memories are collaborative moments with my cohort. For example, trying to solve TPN math together in the office, laughing at the inside jokes that are only funny after working all week as an intern, and going for quick coffee breaks. We were so lucky to go through that experience together! I think it is such a strength of the UC Davis program to have a cohort of interns going through similar experiences together, and I can't imagine doing the internship without that group.

Q: What was your greatest accomplishment during your internship year?

Rachel: My greatest accomplishment during the internship was learning how to get outside of my comfort zone. From learning to speak up at ICU rounds to successfully creating a theme meal for the cafeteria, so much of the internship provided me the opportunity to push beyond what I was comfortable with and grow in confidence. I completed the intern year with a sense of accomplishment in my growth as an individual and a clinicia

Q: Since graduating, where has your career path taken you? How did the internship help guide you towards this career pathway?

Rachel: Immediately after graduating I was fortunate to work as an on-call at UCDMC and continue learning from the talented staff who helped train me. I highly recommend this route for any current or future interns! Then I went to a smaller community hospital, where I covered the ICU half of the time, and general medical floors the other half of the time. I had a great diversity of experience working there and learned a lot. I am now back in a larger teaching institution, Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, and enjoy working with medical residents and precepting dietetic interns. I work on a medical-telemetry floor where I see a lot of long-term nutrition support, stroke, and post-ICU patients. I also work with the head and neck surgery clinic for preoperative assessments and postoperative nutrition support. I have had my CNSC certification since 2017. The internship absolutely guided me to my career path by providing me the opportunity to find my area of interest in inpatient clinical dietetics and nutrition support. 

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to future and graduating interns, what would it be?

Rachel: My best advice for future and graduating interns is to keep an open mind. Whether it is new rotations during the internship, a job somewhere you were not expecting, or anything else that comes up in your career and life. I really enjoy my career path and have a job that aligns so well with my interests in part because I have been open minded to experiencing and “saying yes” to different opportunities. 

Questions for Rachel? Email her at rachel.parker.rd@gmail.com