Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I was asked if I would be interested in becoming one by my then director. I was skeptical because of my age and would I ever be able to advance as a CDM. Then I spoke to my parents about it and they encouraged me to pursue it. So I did and I was able to complete it fairly quickly. I actually missed the learning process after the course was complete. Above all that, I am always engaged in learning and took it as an opportunity to learn more about my current field.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I am entirely responsible for maintaining the function of the Food Service Department, from simple scheduling to the complexity of creating a budget. I am also responsible for all the clinical charting for our LCU unit and all skilled level patients on the hospital side. I am a part of the Care Plans for our skilled level patients and working one on one with those patients to assure they receive encouragement on maintaining a healthy nutritional intake vs. using supplements.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
Bringing ownership to all my staff. I challenged each one that if they found an easier method or a difficult issue to create a solution then present it to me for discussion and in some cases has had them implemented. We are also cooking almost all our food from scratch. We have eliminated all but one or two items that are still convenient foods. My lead cook is a grandmother’s worst nightmare; she can cook just about any recipe or menu I throw at her. Which makes our patients and facility staff very happy!!
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
Going back that far would take up way to much space, so we’ll start with when I moved here to Kinsley, KS from Ft. Worth TX. I was cooking at the local golf course and the local bar & grill. I was building a reputation as the Texas girl who can really cook. I was then approached by one of the board members to go and apply at Edwards County as the lead Cook. I did and here I am.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Biggest challenge is finding more ways to help my staff grow in ownership and leadership. I always encourage my staff they are a huge part of the running of the department. I may oversee it but I put them first as the “bones” of the Food Service Dept.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The interaction with patients and watching them progress with healing or maintaining health from the food we provide. The comradery we have here at this facility we are all like family and watch over each other as such. I have been blessed with incredible support from my facility but more so from my direct lead advisor, Tammy Lampe. She encourages me and advises me in ways that have gotten me to where I am today. Then the CDM family I have become a part of is just the cherry on the pie, learning from each other and watching growth among us is so rewarding.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I am very engaged with our ANFP district and state meetings. I feel the interaction with all the different aspects of those meetings helps keep me up to speed on all the latest changes of our field. I like to research leadership trends and activities. Presenting those changes and activities to my staff encourages their own leadership wings to spread.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
With the Safe Food For Seniors Act moving forward I think will bring so much more respect to the CDM position. Bringing more care to the dining experience in both LTC facilities as well as the hospital tray dining. The dinner bell is something I see becoming more looked forward to then being dreaded as it has been in the past. The people involved with the food side of healthcare see food as an art and want to bring that art to the showroom so the patients and residence can enjoy the beauty of food.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Don’t be afraid of change and challenges. Take leaps of faith that you can make a difference in someone’s life. Be it a patient/resident or a co-worker. Showing others there is beauty all around can make those watching you be inspired to grow within themselves. If you find yourself making a strawberry look like a rose, then you have a passion for food and should feed that passion with all the knowledge you can find.