Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, etc...

Joined May 14, 2001
I've been following the "cafeteria" thread with interest as these environments have been discussed there...which leads me to this post...

I finished culinary school in Dec. Right now I am working my way through some science classes so I can begin an MS in Nutrition program next year which also includes the internship to become a Registered Dietitian.

I have part-time job right now cooking in a very small corporate cafeteria. I didn't have any experience before school and this job has been a good place to start...but I'm not learning a great deal(we do a lot of heat and serve and due to management issues are not terribly busy, we seem to alienate a lot of our customers and mgmt doesn't necessarily seem to want to work towards fixing that).

Anyway, I've been thinking about looking for a new job now that I have 6 months here under my belt. I've been considering looking in the health care field...though not the cutting edge of the culinary world I think it might be good experience for me, both early in my cooking career and in terms of my longer term goals.

Just wondering what those here who have worked in these environments might offer as advice? Pros/cons of different types of facilities? What might someone expect in this area of the industry? What should I look for in a kitchen that I might want to work in? My goals are to increase both my industry experience( in terms of cooking skills) and to begin to learn some about cooking for nutritional needs which was not addressed in my schooling last year...

Any insight offered greatly appreciated! :)
Joined Oct 13, 2001
Hey Ziggy , I am the food service manager of a skilled long term care nursing facility for 3 years now . Before this I was chef for an acute care hospital for 3 years . Before this I spent 20 years in the private sector going from resorts , coffee shops , fine dining , jails , the military , country clubs , truck stops , and many hotels .
If your desire is to pursue a career in healthcare I would give you some different advice . I would continue schooling but instead of starting with a hospital I would find myself a owner operated restaurant and learn how a kitchen operates that has to make a profit in order to pay your wages . The culinary experience learned from this kind of endeaver , the fast pace , the making it work no matter what , the understanding of food cost and labor costs .This will give you so much more practical experience for your healthcare field than you can ever learn in a class or in a structured healthcare kitchen . This knowledge is invaluable and it will help you to stand head and shoulders above most of your other healthcare food service workers . With this first hand knowledge you will know more about food . The RD end is somthing that you learn in school and then do an apprenticeship
of I think 1 year . I think your schooling on that end will take care of itself but I think that by taking my suggestion you will help yourself to be a very well rounded food service employee . I know that I do not have the degree or the education on the nutritional level but I do know how kitchens work and how to put a good team together . I do know how to cook real food and present it in a timely and attractive manner . Sanitation and food safety become natural . I do not have to worry about the clinical end of the food biz as that is what the dietitians are for . Of course this is just food for thought . Good Luck , Doug.........................
Joined Jul 7, 2002
Ziggy, i totally agree with Doug, I have been in Rest. kitchens for 35 yrs., last year i decided to make a change,and sold my place. i took a job in an assisted living complex, and the years in for profit kitchens have proven invaluable.of course you dont want to wait until your an old well worn chef like me.
good luck

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