Name: Megan Lacoste
Registered Dietitian: N/A
Employment: General Manager at Vancouver General Hospital Patient Food Services (Sodexo)
UBC Food Service Management Preceptor: 2 years
A Little Bit About Megan
Megan started her first food service job when she was still in university in 2010. Nine years later, as a food service general manager at Vancouver General Hospital, Megan oversees a team of four managers responsible for various parts of the food service operations, feeding 1,000 patients three meals plus snacks every day. Although not a registered dietitian herself, Megan has been a valuable preceptor to year 5 students through her mentorship and teaching on the value of food service operations.
What is a Food Service Management Preceptor?
As a food service management preceptor, Megan typically oversees one or two year 5 students for a four-week rotation. “I do think it’s really important, especially from the food service perspective, to show future dietitians what it’s like to actually put food on a plate and get it in front of a patient.”
During the rotation, Megan supports the students in working on multiple value-added projects. “[The projects] are often things we haven’t had a chance to get to, or we found a problem but don’t have the solution yet”, Megan explained. Depending on the experience level of the student, Megan tailors her preceptorship style to be more hands-on or hands-off, and operates on an open door policy for students to ask for help whenever needed.
What Being a Preceptor Means to Megan
Megan enjoys being a preceptor for two key reasons: her love for mentoring, and her desire to “share not only the day-to-day nuances of the job, but also advice that will help with career growth and other aspects of life, and what the world is like when you’re not a student anymore.”
Megan also aims to change people’s opinions. “People have all sorts of ideas about what hospital food is until they actually see it,” she said. “And when you get in there and you meet the people who are working so hard to put a good meal in front of a patient, it gives you a different perspective. It’s really important.”
Advice for Incoming Year 5 Students
Megan advises year 5 students entering their management rotation to be prepared for a slightly different layout with less one-on-one mentorship and more independent work. She expects that students come in with goals to work on together. “I know a lot of students don’t go into dietetics wanting to work in food services, but there are so many valuable skills you can learn whether or not you end up in food service,” she says, so it is important to come in with an open mind and positive attitude.
Advice for Current and Prospective Preceptors
Something Megan has learned from being a preceptor is that “the students don’t know what they don’t know.” She reminds current and prospective preceptors that the students cannot learn everything in their courses so it is important to be understanding of their current knowledge level and try not to jump too far ahead. She also says that it’s easy to “expect each student to come in with the same skills or experiences, but that is not the case,” so being flexible and understanding of the students’ experiences is important to be successful!
By: Nicole Sherratt and Tanya Ruscheinski, Year 3 Dietetics Students