“Alright, let’s grab a hair net!” Those were some of the first words spoken to an eager Freddie Hogan, a UF College of Medicine internal medicine student shadowing the members of the UF Health Shands Food and Nutrition Services department. Hogan took an interprofessional teamwork assignment and chose to spend the day learning about the inner workings of the team that ensures inpatients are nourished and follow the right dietary plans.
Hogan’s interest in the department peaked during his daily walks through UF Health Shands Hospital hallways, where he passed by the kitchen. After months of quietly watching the team in action, he was excited to get a behind-the-scenes look.
“I would see the workers diligently preparing meals and had an interest in what really goes into feeding all of our patients with sometimes strikingly different needs,” Hogan said.
Dexter Godbolt, UF Health Shands Food and Nutrition Services supervisor, led Hogan for the day and showed him the intricate details of what makes the department run. The two started with a tour of the kitchen, reviewing how the team receives patient information, such as diets and allergies, and creates appropriate meal plans.
Hogan immediately could tell that Godbolt was passionate about his work and knows that it plays a major role in our patients’ experience.
“Food is like a prescription, and I look at what I do as medicine,” Godbolt said. “We’re consistently monitoring their diet changes and catering to their needs.”
After the tour, Hogan embarked on his first “menu round,” where they visited Godbolt’s patients on a nursing unit. As Godbolt spoke to each one, Hogan witnessed how diet and menu options can greatly affect a patient’s experience. Godbolt knows every dietary plan and advises patients on what they can choose as options based on their limitations. If a patient has a diet restriction, Godbolt suggests multiple alternatives and collaborates with them to ensure they receive appropriate meals they can also enjoy.
Right before lunch rush, the two joined a Food and Nutrition Services staff meeting. What began as a discussion about purée and mechanical soft diets quickly led to a brainstorm session about ways to improve the patient experience. One person spoke about the importance of patients knowing all available soft food options, another talked about which items were the most popular and how they could make further improvements. Hogan sensed the pride among the team and their passion for cultivating customer satisfaction.
Hogan recalls how Patrick Modriskey, UF Health Shands Food and Nutrition Services executive chef, said, “We don’t stop there. If the patients want something — and it’s realistic and we can do it — we will make it happen.”
Hogan and Godbolt have a lot in common. Godbolt began his career at UF Health Shands as a catering associate. Hogan is also no stranger to the food service industry, as he worked as a server, dishwasher and prep cook prior to his career as an engineer and medical student. That experience made him keenly aware that there are multiple components of the team making things happen at every level. Godbolt shares the same sentiments and believes that regardless of what department we are in, we’re all here for the same reason — to support our patients.
When Hogan’s shadow day ended, he left with a deeper understanding of the work that the team does — and newfound friendships.
He said, “In the future, if I ever have concerns about patient dietary needs, I have an extra thing in my toolbox and some friends in the kitchen that can help out my patients.”
“We all play a role in saving lives,” Godbolt said. “This was a great experience and I hope more will come to understand what we do, our process and all the intricate parts that make up our department.”