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From: Sally (
Subject:         You're right
Date: December 14, 2005 at 8:22 am PST

In Reply to: Re: health careers: nursing? posted by Mark Rifkin on December 14, 2005 at 12:01 am:

Nutrition/diet counseling is not part of a nurses routine duties. Most areas in hospitals and clinics have dietitians to take care of this duty. Part of this is due to the fact that dietitians have more knowledge in this area; part is due to the fact that nurses generally don't have the time to do this.

It's also my experience as an RN and a (mostly) vegan, that the majority of health care professionals 1)know nothing about veganism and 2) don't want to know about it. They're still operating under the belief that one must have meat or fish and dairy to have a healthy diet. Unfortunately, this also includes many of the dietitians. I don't think they've read the ADA's position paper on vegetarianism.

I refrain from speaking to patients about diet; I refer them to the dietitians. I do this for two reasons: 1) the patients I work with have very specialized nutritional needs and I don't have the knowledge to plan a vegan diet for them, and 2) the common knowledge in my field is that patients can't follow a vegan diet because they need a steady source of "high quality protein" (read animal protein).

Can it be an example to other nurses? Well, yes and no. Nearly every nurse (and others) I work with has commented on my appearance, including the fact that I look about 10 years younger than my actual age, and how "healthy" my diet is. Some have expressed interest. Not one, ever, has made a change. The biggest change I've noticed is that many are eating more vegetables.

There's another reason I refrain from speaking to patients about diet: veganism still goes against what the medical establishment believes in. While I have an interest in teaching what I believe in, I've come to realize it's most likely not going to be within the confines of a nursing career as I know it. I'll have to strike out on my own in some way. I do have a specific interest and focus group in mind.

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