The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Clinicals Week 4

I CANNOT believe I have just completed my first month of my dietetic internship! I’m a pretty adaptable person (just give me a few days and I’ll get used to most things), so I have to keep reminding myself that I am so fortunate to be having this experience and how hard I’ve worked to be here. This is my last stop on the train to becoming a dietitian (well there’s that whole RD exam thing but we’ll think about that later) and I’m just so grateful for not only where I am, but where I’m going.

Okay, let’s get into this week!

Monday was another didactic day – this time we went to Emory and took a Diabetes Education Course for professionals. It was super informative and really brought everything together that we learned about diabetes in undergrad. And while that was great, probably the best part of the day was visiting The Municipal Market and eating the most delicious arepas!!!

After lunch it was back to Emory where we got to test our 2-hr post-prandial blood sugar! This was my first time using a blood glucose monitor on myself and while I’m totally comfortable with needles, the thought of pricking my own finger made me a liiiitle bit sweaty. I’m glad I did it though, because like every dietetic student/intern I have convinced myself that I’ve developed diabetes or hypoglycemia … and of course my blood sugar was completely normal.

The rest of the week was a blur, but in the best possible way because so much happened. I finished up the malnutrition week projects I started last week and was so pleased with how the trivia game I made came out! Of course the entire hospital is crazy busy right now so we really haven’t gotten to use them yet, but they’re a resource that will be available going forward which is really cool.

I got thrown a few situations this week that required not only clinical skills, but major interpersonal skills. There are so many moving parts in a hospital that sometimes things get overlooked, misinterpreted, or just plain confusing. I got to make sure a patient on contact precautions (you need a gown, gloves, and a mask to go into the room) got her food order taken; I also had to speak with a resident and RN about some confusing tube feeding orders. Learning how to navigate weird situations without insulting people or assigning blame is such an important skill; I started developing it when I was a vet tech, but working in a huge hospital with a zillion people provides many, many more opportunities to exercise tact and efficiency.

I also finally found my case study patient! As part of our internship, we are tasked with creating a presentation on an interesting patient for our preceptors, director, and coordinator. I’d like to thank my almost two years of podcasting for numbing me to public speaking because I know I would be freaking out about this otherwise, but I’m actually excited! I really love giving presentations now which I can’t believe I’m saying – ask me to speak in front of a room full of RDs in my freshman year and I probably would have peed my pants and passed out.

My case study patient’s room was on a different floor than I’m usually on, so not only did I not know where the hell I was in the big maze that is the hospital, but I didn’t know the protocols of that floor. I saw a box of masks hanging outside my patient’s door and I didn’t know if that meant we had to put them on before we went into the room. No big deal though, right? I just walked up to the nurse’s station and said “Hey there, I’m not usually on this floor, do we need to put on a mask before entering the rooms?” The nurse was happy to help and probably used to interns and residents not knowing what the hell is going on (she said no, by the way, I only needed a mask if I was sick). Once I was done talking to my amazing patient, I had no idea how to get back to the nutrition offices. Again, no big deal – I just found my way to the front desk and asked for help.

This kind of stuff would have mortified me in the past because I used to be so afraid of looking stupid. I thought I should know everything and that asking for help made me look dumb. Not true! If you ask nicely and act confident, people don’t mind helping you and don’t think you’re stupid for not knowing something. And here’s the thing – you actually will look stupid wandering around aimlessly or walking into a room in a full mask and gown when it isn’t necessary. Ask for help!

My faithful study buddy

One really exciting thing that happened this week is that I got the opportunity to record a voice-over for one of the hospital’s CBLs (computer based learning)! The Clinical Nutrition Manager knows I have a podcast and thought it would be a perfect special project for me to do (plus no one else wants to do it, because who wants to listen to their own voice on a recording – it’s cringey). This is why you shouldn’t be afraid to self-promote, because I’m sure I never would have gotten this opportunity if I hadn’t mentioned my side-hustles to my preceptor.

Lessons learned this week:

  • If you really have no clue, ask for help!
  • Act like you belong where you are – you’re still learning, but you’ve earned your spot.
  • Take every opportunity, even if it’s a little scary.
  • …but that being said, don’t overload your plate. It’s hard to do your best work when you’re drowning.
  • Be honest – don’t pretend you understand something if you don’t.
  • Be thankful – your preceptors are going way out of their way to help you, so let them know you appreciate their hard work!

And that’s the first month of my dietetic internship in clinicals! Four more weeks at my current hospital and then it’s on to my clinical concentration rotation. Until next week!

We were cracking up at this guy who got caught in our group selfie and smiled with us XD

Published by kelliroseyates

Kelli Yates is a health and nutrition writer, dietetics student, and co-host and creator of The Nutrition Nerds Podcast. In her spare time she teaches the free class Well-Fed Survival: Eating Well After Disaster.

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