When Sierra Midgette began her senior year at Manteo High School in 2011, she knew she would be required to complete a senior project in order to graduate. She chose nutrition and eating well as the project topic. After watching several videos about nutrition and health, she made a call to the Outer Banks Hospital.

The OBH arranged for her to shadow Karla Coughenour, a registered dietitian at the hospital. The young student was a bit nervous but also excited about the opportunity. She admits that she didn’t know much about the nutrition field before job shadowing. But during the day with Coughenour, she learned about the science behind nutrition and discovered that there is a strong focus on biology and chemistry. “I did pretty well in these subjects in school, so I wanted to explore the nutrition field.”

Midgette completed her senior project and presented it to her classmates. She utilized the knowledge she gained from her job-shadowing experience to illustrate facts with visual aids like soda cans filled with sugar and comparing sandwiches from McDonald’s and Subway. Her presentation was well received. “My classmates were really surprised about how much science is involved with nutrition,” she noted.

This job-shadowing opportunity set a path for Midgette in college. Currently, she is a senior at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro (UNCG) and will graduate in May 2017 with a bachelor of science in nutrition and a concentration in dietetics. Her schooling included many nutrition courses, science courses (biology, chemistry, physiology, and microbiology), food preparation education, and classes that examined various cultures.

While on her 2016 holiday break, Midgette returned to the OBH as a volunteer and worked alongside Jackie Hall, the current registered dietitian at the hospital. This time, Midgette was knowledgeable about the field of nutrition and felt more in her comfort zone. During the week, she was “hands on” and engaged in patient care. She researched the patients’ medical conditions and determined which nutrition interventions would benefit them the most. Midgette assisted with catering meetings and helped in the kitchen with patient trays. “My favorite part of volunteering at the OBH was problem solving and providing patients with medical nutrition therapy,” said Midgette. “I was able to see firsthand what I learned about motivational interviewing in my nutrition assessment class at UNCG.”

Midgette is passionate about using her nutrition knowledge to help our community. She specifically mentioned food banks, the Food Recovery Network, and WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) as her areas of interest.

If you would like to job shadow or volunteer at the Outer Banks Hospital, please contact Kelly Divita at 252-449-4550 or [email protected]. For more information on how to volunteer, please click here.