The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Orientation Week 2

This week was crazy y’all … lots of emotions, lots of knowledge, lots of wine. Let’s get into it!

My little intestine badge reel!

Week two consisted of our second and last week of orientation before heading out on rotations (!!!).

Much of the first couple of days consisted of a refresher on malnutrition and nutrition focused physical exams, and then, we actually had to practice a nutrition focused physical exam. Life University has mock exam rooms for the chiropractic students, so we paired up and took turns practicing an exam on one another.

My good friend Allie and I paired up and I volunteered to be the clinician first, while she played the patient. I was a veterinary tech for several years so I figured, hey, I’ve done this a million times on animals, what’s the difference?

BIG DIFFERENCE. I literally froze and my mind went blank after I stepped into the room. This has never happened to me before – I’m usually really good under pressure but I freaked out! I am so so so grateful that our director and coordinator had us go through this exercise, because none of us had ever done an NFPE before and it was so intimidating! It was nice to have room to make mistakes and figure things out before actually walking into a real exam room in a real hospital. After letting us stumble a little, our director and coordinator demonstrated what an NFPE should look like and how to help the patient be comfortable with us as clinicians.

Later that same day we got to practice motivational interviewing on each other and this shook me up as well! Again, an area where I felt pretty confident – I’ve been in therapy forever, so I felt like I knew all the tricks. My friend Jessi and I practiced on each other since we’re both interested in eating disorders. She played a 17 year old girl with anorexia, and I quickly confirmed that working with teens may not be my area of expertise =D It was a great exercise though, and something I wish we could have done more of!

After our MI workshop, myself and three other interns went to meet with the dietitians with whom we will be completing our clinical rotations. We decided to carpool, which was a great opportunity to get to know one another and make sure we didn’t get lost. We were all super nervous walking in, but as soon as we got there we were welcomed with open arms. They were excited to meet us and just wanted to get to know us before we started rotations. This hospital will be my first rotation, and I honestly could see myself working there in the future. Don’t forget y’all, each rotation is basically a huge job interview! Several of the RDs working there were former interns. No pressure, right?

We earned these coffees

Wednesday was fun because we got to get out of the classroom and visit the Atlanta Community Food Bank! Four of us carpooled so we didn’t have to fight Atlanta traffic alone, and since we had some extra time we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall coffee place in the basement of some office building on the way.

Now, the Atlanta Community Food Bank is seriously impressive and does great things for our city. I’ve been there a few times before and have volunteered with their grower’s market. When we got there, we were given a quick tour before participating in a “community nutrition experience”. We were all given a role to play – most people were community members, while myself and a few others sat at stations set up to represent SNAP, WIC, a grocery store, etc (I love being in charge of stuff so I almost jumped out of my seat when she asked for volunteers =D ). It was a huge eye-opener to see how much work it is just to obtain and maintain these kinds of benefits.

Thursday was a full day starting off with a HIPAA quiz, which thankfully was pretty straightforward. After that we had a presentation that I absolutely loved on how to take care of yourself during the internship! We all talked about our fears, how we practice self-care personally already, and techniques we can use to cope with a stressful schedule. I’m so thankful our program thought to do this with us because self-care is so important! It also helped me get to know my fellow interns even better and showed us that we all share very similar fears.

Not a fan of cafe mocha Jevity

Next we had a fascinating presentation on renal nutrition and got to taste some different formulas! Our awesome presenter gave us a huge stack of handouts and reference materials (the way to any intern’s heart) and was super knowledgeable. After that, it was time to go home and start working on my general med module for rotations the following week. This was definitely the longest, most tiring day for me so far, but part of that was due to some personal stuff that was going on behind the scenes (more on that later).

Researching common medications and their nutritional implications

Friday was an exciting day because we were going to receive our embroidered white coats! But first, we had to get through a presentation on enteral feeding. I forgot how much I love calculations and could definitely see myself doing this kind of work for at least a year or two. Our presenter video conferenced in from Florida and was amazing – check out her YouTube channel HERE! After that it was on to ethics training and finally, we got our coats!

We were all so excited and finally felt like official interns. After a ridiculously extensive photo shoot, we decided to go out for margaritas and get to know each other before heading out into rotations. We had such a good time that we decided we should schedule regular get-togethers throughout our internship. I think we all feel that we got lucky with our group and everyone really just clicks.

A few interns short but we had a great time!

I wasn’t sure if I was going to include this next part, but I know a lot of former interns who have gone through a similar situation so I think it would be helpful. For the past two weeks, on top of the stress of starting the internship, my husband and I have been frantically moving out of our house and in with my in-laws. We are so lucky to even have this option and will be saving so much money by doing this, but there were definitely some complex emotions involved. I’m a very independent person, and accepting help like this (especially when I’m married and almost 30) was difficult. This morning I went over to clean and pick up the last of our things, and it was … hard. This was our first house and felt like a huge step for us as a little family. Although it wasn’t the greatest place to live (mold issues, bugs, weird drippy walls), it was our home for three and a half years and we really loved it there.

I tried to remind myself of all the good reasons why we were moving out of that house, and told myself that the new family that was moving in would make lots of happy memories there. But I also let myself cry and be sad. It feels like everything in my life changed all at once in the last few weeks … because it did. And that’s going to take some adjustment. So for the many of you who have or may have to do the same thing during your own internship, remember why you’re doing it and that it’s only temporary … but give yourself some room to be upset too.

Our “inter” group chat XD

Well that’s it for week two! Next week … CLINICAL ROTATIONS START. I am so so so so excited and a little bit nervous. But mostly excited. Let me tell you, doing homework has a whole new meaning when you know you’re going to be walking into a hospital and using that information in a few days. Until next week!

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