The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Clinicals Week 6

Here we are at the end of week 6 of clinical rotations … and I’ll be honest, I’m dragging a little bit! The good thing is I got to do lots of really interesting things this week, so let’s get into it!

Naps – an essential tool in the intern toolbox

My preceptor was out of town for the first part of the week, so on Monday I was with the GI dietitian, on Tuesday I was with the Cardiology dietitian, and on Wednesday I was with the Oncology dietitian. I think my clinical site does things a little differently in that we are placed with one dietitian the entire 8 weeks and are given one acute-care floor that is our own – while I really like this because it lets me do my own thing and have my own set of patients (so cool!), it was also exciting to see other floors and learn more specialized MNT.

So on Monday, after seeing patients on my normal floor, I rounded with the GI dietitian and got to observe her giving nutrition education for a gastrectomy patient … using a translator! It was a learning experience for both of us and something I would without a doubt encounter if I were to enter the clinical nutrition field. I love that my hospital offers translation services in literally every language any time of day or night!

On Tuesday, my fellow intern Amanda and I showed up bright and early at 6 AM to shadow the Cardiology dietitian. We had the opportunity to observe a graft placement for dialysis – after the patient was sewn up, we even got to place our (gloved) hand over the area of the arm where the graft was placed and feel the blood rushing through it. Amazing! This is something the patient can do at home to make sure the graft is still working properly. After that we saw a few cardio patients, watched a heart cath placement, and visited the hospital’s dialysis center.

Just a couple of nerds about to watch a surgery

On Wednesday I rounded with the Oncology dietitian, which was interesting but emotionally taxing. I found out late last week that my case study patient (who was on the oncology floor) received an extremely poor prognosis, so I was still a little tender from hearing that news.

On Thursday, my fellow intern and I created a display for pre- and post-op nutrition. It was a fun creative project that gave us a breather from the stress of clinicals.


Then Friday came around … and things really kicked into high gear. I usually have 4-5 patients, 6 on a busy day … on Friday I had 9! This would be a normal patient load at your typical hospital (my hospital is huge and therefor the RDs tend to have more patients), so I really got to test my abilities. It was definitely stressful but I actually finished early!

Adding to my stress this week was the knowledge that I’d be reviewing my big case study project next week with my preceptor and the clinical nutrition manager. Of course I’m way overthinking the entire project and really getting in my own head about it … the good thing is that I know I work well under pressure, so if I don’t have it done early (which I probably won’t), I know I’ll knock it out the night before. This might sound a little reckless or irresponsible, but after four attempts at college (and three of those unsuccessful) I know myself pretty well. I usually do my best work under pressure and I’ve never missed a deadline, so I just have to trust that I will get it done.

Reading about nutrition therapy for partial bowel obstructions and drinking cider – jealous???

What’s been saving me from having a full mental breakdown this week has been climbing … again, I urge you not to give up the things that keep you sane during your internship. I know that dedicating 2-3 nights per week to climbing means I have less time to work on projects, but I’m not willing to give it up because it’s the main thing I do to take care of my mental health (other than therapy, of course). Plus it keep me physically strong too!

Jumping for the top is still scary and that’s why I love it!!!

Lessons learned this week:

  • Saying “I’m gonna really buckle down and finish this project today” does not mean it will magically get done … unfortunately.
  • It’s really, really rare that you will fail out of a dietetic internship. If you do your best and ask for help when you need it you’ll be just fine.
  • Most of us are Type A’s and that can be a gift, but it can also be a hindrance. Some things just need to be done and won’t be 100% perfect, and that’s okay.
  • If you’re married or living with a significant other, sorry, but they will not understand the stress you’re under if they are not a dietitian or dietetic intern themselves. Stop trying to make them understand it and just ask for what you need (like a pizza, or a hug, or a sympathetic ear).

See you next week RD2Be’s! Let me know if there’s anything specific you want to know, and questions you have, or any advice you want to offer! Soon I’ll start to do special posts like resources I use for clinical rotations. Anything else you want to see? Let me know!

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