Fort McCoy News June 26, 2015

RTS-Medical course trains nutritional-care specialists

Public Affairs Staff

Soldiers with Alpha Company, 801st Combat Support Hospital of Fort Sheridan, Ill., studied medical dietary care at Fort McCoy's Regional Training Site (RTS)-Medical complex in early June.

The 80-hour sustainment course was for Soldiers in the 68M (nutritional-care specialist) military occupational specialty. By Army definition, 68M Soldiers perform basic dietetic functions in a hospital, clinic, or field environment. They also provide nutritional treatment and basic counseling to patients in nutrition clinics, health-promotion and wellness clinics, and classroom settings.

Photo 1
Students in the 80-hour sustainment course for Soldiers in the 68M (nutritional-care specialist) military occupational specialty prepare a meal in a containerized kitchen at the Fort McCoy Regional Training Site-Medical complex.

RTS-Medical instructor Aimee Carrington, who assisted with the course, said nutritional-care specialists also are the dietary technicians for the Army.

"Essentially, they take care of food for (medical) patients," she said.

During the course, students trained in the classroom and had hands-on training in food preparation and safety. The course builds on skills Soldiers learned in the Army Nutrition Care Specialist Course during advanced individual training (AIT).

"Here, the students also get to train in a field environment using a Containerized Kitchen, which they don't (normally) get to do at their home station," said Carrington, who is a former 68M Soldier.
Food sanitation is emphasized. Carrington said students must know the standards outlined in Army Technical Bulletin-Medical 530, Occupational and Environmental Health Food Sanitation.

"That's sort of the bible for food preparation," Carrington said. "In following the procedures outlined by the bulletin, the students learn proper food-handling techniques, how to use proper temperatures (for food preparation), and how to wash and sanitize your equipment properly."

Spc. Benjamin Wood, nutritional-care specialist with the 801st Combat
Support Hospital at Fort Sheridan, Ill., reviews a dietary plan for
ingredients required to make a meal.

Pvt. Fu Hongyuan, who recently completed AIT, said the course provided very good training.

"We learned how to pay close attention to (food) nutrients and safety. This also is experience I can take home with me to better prepare food safely," Hongyuan said.

Pfc. Dariah Wellington said she gained some extra skills and a greater understanding of how food directly affects the recovery of a medical patient.

"We learned to do things to make sure the dietary support for injured (service members) is top-notch," Wellington said.

"Also, setting up a Containerized Kitchen and a sanitation room is all new to me, so this was great training.

"This is a very unique career field because we have to be very versatile," Wellington said. "We have to learn how to work in the kitchen and take care of patients, and we also have to learn the clinical aspect, such as working directly in a hospital and knowing what patients need … that will help them get better."

Maj. Spencer Taylor, assistant course instructor and dietitian with the 332nd Medical Brigade at Nashville, Tenn., said 68M sustainment training is a "valuable skills course."

"We always want to give Soldiers an opportunity and to provide them with some great training in their field," Taylor said. "The Soldiers (in this course) are relatively new in their careers, and … they have never done a field-training event like they are doing here. They can say they learned something during this annual training that they have never experienced before."

Taylor said the training also helps military dietitians and nutritional-care specialists maintain consistency in patient care.

"We want to make sure that we are providing the same message," Taylor said. "We all have our roles, and all roles are important, but there is definitely a common language that we need to speak when we are caring for patients."

Taylor said Fort McCoy is a great place to conduct this course. "We have great instructors with RTS-Medical here, and I think that any 68M (Soldier) who would have the opportunity to come out and get this training would benefit greatly," he said.

RTS-Medical offers one-stop training in its medical complex of buildings in the 10000 block area, according to Administrative/Executive Officer Gerry Meyer. This allows units to conduct all their training in the area, reduces travel time, and minimizes distractions.

The organization has been a tenant activity and training partner at Fort McCoy since 1991. For more information about RTS-Medical training, call 608-388-2544.