How To Start Building A Private Practice During Your Dietetic Internship

Do you have dreams of owning your own private practice one day in the far, far away future?

What if you could start taking steps towards building that practice right now?

As dietetic students and interns, we’re often told we must gain experience elsewhere before we enter into private practice. I’d like to lovingly suggest that that is bullshit, friends.

When I was doing research about private practice at the beginning of my internship, one thing really struck me – NO ONE ever feels ready. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or have been a clinical dietitian for 10 years. Dietitians consistently say, no matter when they started, that they didn’t feel ready to enter into private practice. Why? Because it’s scary, and so different from what we learn in school and during our internship.

So then why are we always told to gain experience before starting private practice? Maybe the person giving you that advice is projecting their own fears onto you. Maybe it’s because they’ve fallen into the trap that so many of us do of accumulating endless degrees and certifications in an attempt to “feel ready”. Maybe they’re subconsciously jealous of your aspirations.

Here’s the thing – I’m not saying jump in blind and ruin your future clients’ lives with misinformation and crappy counseling skills. But what I AM saying, is that you will learn as you go, make mistakes, and figure it out on the fly regardless of when you start. So why not start now?

I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned while beginning to build my private practice during my internship – the resources I use, the accounts I follow, the specific tools I use, and the magical trick that will help you build an audience.

This article is perfect for students and interns because it focuses on what you can do NOW that takes little to no money – build your confidence and build your audience. Keep an eye out for more articles about other private practice aspects (legal stuff, EMRs, HIPPA, etc) in the coming months!

Read to take your career into your own hands and start doing things on your own terms?


Where to Start

I’m going to suggest you start by taking action, not with research. Here’s why – you can spend weeks, months, and literally years researching how to do this stuff before you actually do it. So before you start googling your little heart out about how to start a private practice, do these three things:

1. Create an Instagram Page

Instagram is MAGIC for Dietitians. You can attract clients, sell your services and programs, do market research, and get support from fellow RD2Be’s and Dietitians all on this amazing app. I suggest going with a simple username when you first start – I think mine was KelliRoseNutrition – until you figure out what your niche is going to be (more on that later!). Make sure to set it up as a business account so you can see all your wonderful analytics. If you want, you can convert your personal account to your business account – that’s what I did! Just delete any old photos that don’t make sense with your new focus.

2. Create a Facebook Page

Use the same name as your Instagram page, and link it to your Instagram so that whenever you post something on Instagram, it goes directly to your Facebook. This eliminates the need for you to be super active on both platforms while still catching the people who use Facebook more than Instagram.

3. Create a Website

Okay, don’t freak out – you can make this as simple or as complicated as you’d like. I use the free version of WordPress to build my websites because I’m familiar with it and I like their templates, but I know many people use Squarespace and Wix and are happy with those platforms. All you need to do is create a homepage, an about page, a blog, and a contact page. You can look at my website if you’d like inspiration, but my website is by no means fancy or professionally made! It can just give you an idea of things you can put on there to attract attention.

Favorite Resources

Once you’ve completed your first steps, it’s time to do some practical research! Here are my favorite resources for learning all about building a private practice:

The Dietitian Boss Podcast by Libby Rothschild – I’ll be honest, I would be nowhere without this podcast. Libby Rothschild is all about empowering Dietitians and RD2Be’s to take action and build their private practice using Instagram, and she is a goldmine of information! She also provides coaching services which I plan to utilize in the future when I’m not living in my in-law’s house and eating air for breakfast =D She does, however, take students and interns as clients so if you have the dough and are extra motivated, check it out!

The Unconventional RD Podcast by Erica Julson – this is a newer podcast that I’ve really been digging! It goes more into the non-social media aspects of building a business which are just as important. Topics she’s covered so far include SEO, freelance writing, finding your brand voice, and lots of others! Erica also has a great blog with lots of amazing resources and courses for private practice RDs.

Inspiring Instagram Accounts to Follow

Now it’s time to get some inspiration. I learn a lot just by following RDs who are KILLING IT, regardless of whether I agree with their personal nutrition philosophy. Here are some of my favorites!

Diet.Culture.Rebel – Bonnie Roney is a master of creating sharable Instagram posts and really knows how to show up in her stories. She is an intuitive eating / food freedom RD.

GutHealth.Nutritionist – Amanda Sauceda specializes in, you guessed it, gut health and IBS. Her Instagram is super cute and fun, and she isn’t afraid to talk about poop!

LibbyRothschild – Of course I follow Libby on Instagram – her stories always keep me motivated and she’s a great example of how to use interactions with your audience as material for content.

Vegan.Kids.Nutrition – Karla Moreno-Bryce is killing it on Instagram! She is in the process of developing a digital cookbook (which she pre-sold, by the way, and made thousands of dollars before it’s even been released) and is a perfect example of how to own a potentially controversial niche with authority and confidence.

PCOS.Weightloss – Tallene is a master of audience engagement and is doing something really smart and innovative with her Cysterhood Membership program! If you are looking to scale in a major way and have a huge impact (while making money), Tallene is your girl.

HappyStrongHealthy.RD – Jenna is a food freedom Dietitian who is a great example of having a strong brand voice. Her vibe is super fun and relaxed, and she clearly relates very well with her target market!

No.Food.Rules – Colleen Christensen does a great job of showing her face in posts and stories which is the number one way to relate to your audience. People connect with PEOPLE! Colleen also employs the membership model and has a free ebook that I really admire.

NutritionForYourBrain – that’s me! Make sure you follow me and shoot me a DM so we can support each other in our private practice journeys =)

The Tools I Use

Here are the various tools I’ve been using to get my business up and running (these are not affiliate links, just stuff I actually use and love!) :

Graphic Design

Canva – you probably already know about Canva, but if you don’t your life is about to change! I create all of my social media posts in the free version Canva, but here’s what’s really cool – I created my entire Migraine 101 Guide in Canva too! People are blown away when I tell them this, but Canva really makes it that simple. Here’s one word of advice – if you aren’t good with creating visuals, that is OKAY. Either stick to the preset templates in Canva or model your posts after ones you see on Instagram (I’m fine if you want to steal my post layouts!).

VSCO – This is an iPhone app that I use to make all my photos look consistent. I’ve chosen one filter that I apply to every photo I use so that when someone sees one of my photos, they know it’s mine right away. Here’s a tip, though – the filters in VSCO are pretty artsy, so try picking one and adjusting the strength down to about 20%.

Unsplash – this is where I find all my free stock photos for my website. I don’t use them as much for Instagram (I try to use my own photos), but there is some really good stuff on there if you’re willing to spend the time looking.

Vecteezy – this is where I get the vector images for a lot of my posts. Canva has some free ones but most of the good vectors cost money, so I download my own from Vecteezy and insert them into Canva.

A Camera or a Newer iPhone – sorry, but you’re going to have to get used to taking pictures of yourself. Remember how I said people relate to people? That means you need to show up not only in stories, but in your Instagram posts and on your website. Here’s a secret – I haaaate having my picture taken. But I know how important it is for my audience to see the person behind Nutrition For Your Brain, so I do it anyway. It gets easier! I personally use my iPhone 11, usually in portrait mode, to take all of my pictures.

Social Media

Instagram – obviously, right?

Twitter – I use Twitter solely as a way to create easy Instagram posts. If you head to my Instagram page, you’ll see that I feature a Twitter post about once a week – this gives me a break from creating full pieces of content from scratch.

Notes – and by that I mean the Notes app that comes with your phone. I use this to plan out all of my Instagram posts for the week – I insert each image and write out the caption and tags in full below it so that when I need to post, it’s all ready to go. There are apps specifically made for planning and scheduling posts, but they all cost money and I’m a broke intern! Notes honestly works just fine.

Website

WordPress – This is what I started out using way back when I created my first blog over 10 years ago, so I’m super familiar with it. I honestly think it’s worth starting out with wordpress and learning the basics, because most web designers will want to use this platform and when you get a professional website done in the future, it will be much easier if you’re already using it.

Mailchimp – this is the platform I use (free!) to build my mailing list and create landing pages for my free guide and wait list. It takes a little figuring out but it’s totally doable!

GoDaddy – this is where I buy my domain names, but this is totally optional. I would highly recommend just going with your name (mine is kelliroseyates.com) or your name plus “nutrition” just in case you change your niche in the future – it happens! Most of their domains are less than $20 a year, and I honestly think it’s worth it. It makes you look much more professional! You can also purchase a domain name through wordpress, which can be simpler if that’s the platform you’re already using for your website.

Other

A Notebook – I carry a business notebook with me everywhere I go, because I’m constantly getting ideas for posts, blogs, future revenue sources, and ways to serve my audience. Once you get going you’ll be thinking about your business all the time, and you need to have one dedicated place to keep all your good ideas.

The Magical Trick To Building an Audience

Okay, so you’ve created your pages, you have your resources and tools, and a few accounts to inspire you – now you need to find your NICHE.

This is something a lot of people struggle with, especially students and interns! You need to figure out what you’re passionate about and translate that into a specific slice of the dietetics market that you will own.

My niche is Migraine, but I didn’t start out that way. For the longest time I thought I would be in eating disorders, or mental health, or GI, but when I sat down and made a list of health conditions I’ve struggled with over the years and looked at how I could have the biggest impact, I realized Migraine was the niche for me.

Once you figure out your niche, creating content will be soooo much easier because you’ll have a clear focus and direction. Not sure how to go about this? Head to Libby Rothschild’s website and download her free workbook.

…And Now What???

Once you figure out your niche, and have done everything else above, take the following action steps:

1. Change Your Instagram Name

This is optional, but it can help attract your ideal client if your username is clearly related to your niche. If you look at the accounts I listed above, most of them make it pretty clear what their focus is! That’s not an accident.

2. Start Posting Consistently

Whether you prefer to blog, use Instagram, or both, start creating content and post it regularly. I post six times a week on Instagram and upload stories daily – I know, this sounds like a lot. But if you plan out your week ahead of time it’s totally manageable, even during your internship!

3. Conduct Market Research

You need to figure out what your ideal client needs and how you can help address their pain points. I do this by joining Facebook groups related to my niche, searching hashtags on Instagram and looking at what people are posting, and interacting with my audience on my own page. As my audience grows, people are beginning to trust me and are sharing more about their personal struggles and questions they have. Pay attention to your comments and DMs – people will tell you what they need!

4. Join RD Facebook Groups

Dietitians are some of the most supportive and welcoming people on the planet! I’m in several Facebook groups and use them to network, ask questions, and get a feel for what other RDs are doing. Don’t try to do this alone!

Here are some of my favorites:

Dietitians in Private Practice

RDs Who Write

Integrative Functional Dietitian Nutritionist Practice Building

The Unconventional RD Community

Dietitian HQ Community – for RD Entrepreneurs

RD2Be Group by RD2BeSource – make sure to come share your journey with us!

5. Research, Research, Research

There’s a reason why I put this last – because as Type A RD2Be’s, we tend to get really into learning every single thing about a topic before taking action.

Once you have done everything above, it’s time to become an expert on your niche. This is especially important if your niche is not a topic that is covered in school, like mine – I don’t think Migraine was mentioned once throughout my four years of education! Read old and new studies, go through your textbooks, and head to the library to see what you can find. Make sure to also read books and resources that your ideal client is likely to encounter as they’re searching for answers on Google – you need to be aware of what information (or misinformation) your client might bring to the table.

It also doesn’t hurt to brush up on your motivational interviewing and counseling skills, but I will tell you this – it comes with practice. You will NOT be good at it at first. If there is a way you can shadow a private practice RD in school or during your internship, do it!!! This is the best counseling instruction you can possibly get.

Can I Start Seeing Clients During My Internship?

To be honest, I’m a little unsure about this. I know several interns who have, and do, see clients during their internship. I am choosing to wait mostly because my niche – Migraine – involves medical nutrition therapy. If you are not delivering MNT – for instance, if you are focusing on healing disordered eating (NOT full on eating disorders) – the rules are less clear for you. If you feel comfortable starting now and are not delivering MNT, I say go for it!

If you are planning to incorporate MNT into your practice, here are some other things you can start doing now:

Create A Freebie

I did this with my Migraine 101 Guide. Not only does it get my work out there, but it allows me to grow my email list! People must enter their email in order to download the guide.

Create A Paid E-Course

Is there a way you can approach your niche that doesn’t involve MNT? If so, you can create a course and start selling it now. I’m working on this as we speak – a “Lifestyle Overhaul for Migraine” that does not veer from myplate recommendations. Just make sure before you put a bunch of time into creating a course that your audience actually wants it and that it addresses their pain points.

Build A Waiting List

I started doing this out of necessity, which was really exciting! One of my Instagram followers asked how she could work with me, so I told her to join my wait list (which is really just my mailing list). Here’s a tip – you can keep track of requests to join your wait list versus who downloaded your free guide or whatever else by looking at the landing page they used to enter their email.

Now Get Going!

I am by no means an expert, but I hope this helps you realize that you CAN start building your private practice during your internship, and you are more than capable of doing so! Before you start thinking “But I can’t do it because x y and z”, I”m going to stop you right there. If I can do it, you can do it. There is nothing special about me other than I took action despite being scared and unsure – and you can do that right this second!

Make sure to share your new Instagram page with me by sending me a DM @NutritionForYourBrain and we can support one another! I believe in you =)

12 Tips For Surviving The Dietetic Internship

All right, baby RD2Be’s. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either A) freaked out about your impending internship or B) freaked out about your current internship. I feel you, and I am right there with you.

As an introvert and someone who gets exhausted being around people all day, the internship has been a unique … challenge. But I will say this – I have gained a lot of really valuable traits during this experience, like standing up for myself, being flexible, and learning to be confident in what I do know (which isn’t everything, and that’s okay).

But thinking back to how horrible some of my early days of the internship were, I feel like there were a lot of things I could have done to make it a little easier on myself. It may feel like you are at the mercy of other people’s schedules and unique weird rules when you’re an intern, but you have a lot of control over your own experience! Here are some things I’ve learned so far that are helping me end this thing on a slightly chiller, slightly more relaxed (but still stressed and tired, let’s be real) note.


1. Know that the first day of a new rotation will be hard.

I kept having breakdowns on the first day or two (or three, or four) of each new rotation because I would get so overwhelmed with having to deal with another new driving route, another new preceptor, and another new set of rules and expectations. Finally it clicked – this will always be hard. First days just suck even if it’s the best rotation in the world because there is so much to get used to and you don’t really know where you fit in yet. Once I accepted that I will always feel super awkward on my first day, will probably get lost on the drive in, and will need a cute little glass of wine when I get home in the evening, I stopped having breakdowns with every new rotation. I just allowed it to be uncomfortable, and you know what? It actually made me care a little less about the uncomfortable-ness, because I knew to expect it.

2. Bring things from home that are comforting.

You’re going to be in a LOT of new places with a LOT of new people for several, several months. I brought a nice big bag with me to each rotation for my work stuff so I had plenty of room for things that bring me a little bit of comfort when I’m feeling homesick (yes, I feel homesick during an 8 hour work day – really it’s just feeling homesick for some normalcy!). Things like a homemade iced coffee to have after lunch, my favorite essential oil, a photo of my kitties, and a piece of my favorite jewelry (if you use crystals, rose quartz or tourmaline!) helped remind me that I do have a place in the world where I feel like I belong, even if I might be feeling lost and out of place in that moment.

3. Take bathroom breaks to recharge.

This is a trick from my days working jobs that drained the life out of me – take plenty of bathroom breaks! On the first day of a new rotation one of the first questions I ask is “where can I find the restroom?”, so I can immediately gather myself and take a few deep breaths. (Also it’s annoying how frequently a preceptor would ghost me without first telling me where the bathroom was – hello, I’m going to need to pee at some point! So asking right up front avoids this predicament, too.) No one will question you going to the restroom, so this is an ace-in-the-hole solution for when you need to take a two minute time-out to collect yourself and regroup.

4. State your needs and boundaries.

Okay, this is one I continue to get a lot of push back on from interns but, interestingly enough, not from preceptors. STATE YOUR NEEDS, people. As interns we are made to think we have to submit to the will of the situation we’re put in, but as a full-grown adult with health concerns and basic human needs, I’m just not doing that. Sorry not sorry. Examples of how I’ve done this in my internship:

1. I had a rotation in downtown Atlanta and was constantly getting lost and making dangerous driving mistakes (what’s up one-way roads, it’s me Kelli, I drove the wrong way on you a lot and almost died, remember?). As cruel fate would have it, one of my assignments was to deliver meals around the city. I had to be super transparent with my preceptor and told her that I simply didn’t feel safe doing this. She was totally understanding and I had a much needed work-from-home day to catch up on projects instead – win!

2. Another rotation had me scheduled to work 10+ hour days. I stressed about this one for literally weeks and finally just decided to be honest with my preceptor on day one – that I only needed 8 hours per day, and would it bother her if I left after I got my hours in? Again, she was completely fine with this and understood I had assignments and other things to do outside of my day with her.

If you are respectful and honest with people, odds are they will return the favor and help make things a little easier on you. If you’re reading this and thinking “I can’t do that”, please realize that I am terrified of conflict and generally avoid inconveniencing people at all costs and I managed to do those two things above and several others. It may not be easy but YOU DESERVE basic things like time for lunch, a safe environment, and reasonable shifts.

5. Bring things to work on.

Something that always gives me anxiety is not having anything to do. Odds are you will at some point get placed with a preceptor who either does not know what to do with you, is too busy to deal with you, or has super slow days. Always always always have your laptop with you and several things to work on (should be easy, right?) so you are never put in the awkward position of staring at your fingernails for 8 hours. If you are like me and have entrepreneurship dreams, take advantage of downtime and do research, create marketing and business plans, and start building a website/social media page for your future business. And check out Libby Rothschild’s podcast (Dietitian Boss) and Instagram (@libbyrothschild) if you haven’t already!

6. Make friends with at least one other intern and send each other encouraging texts.

It literally makes my day to get a “hello!” text from a fellow intern. It can feel so isolating to be out there by yourself during rotations, but don’t forget you have an entire cohort that is going through the same thing with you! It’s super easy to make friends with your fellow interns because you have such a huge thing in common – working lots really weird, random, exhausting jobs for no money. If you’re feeling lonely, send out a “hope you’re having a great day!” text or better yet, start a group chat with your entire cohort and keep each other motivated and smiling by sharing inspirational quotes, funny memes, and crazy stories =)

7. Know who to vent to.

I feel like a lot of us Type A peeps tend to keep things all bottled up until we’re around our “safe person” and can finally vent. Here’s the thing, though – this internship business is rough, and it’s also really hard to relate to if you haven’t gone through it yourself. Your roommate, significant other, best friend, or parent might not be able to feel much sympathy for you, or on the flip side they may feel too much and make you feel like your situation’s even worse than it really is. My advice? Vent to your fellow interns. They know exactly what you’re going through and feel your pain, and this will also spare your poor significant other or whoever from being the victim of daily rants about things they don’t understand, like being called “dietary” during rounds. This isn’t to say you can’t talk about your internship experience with your family and friends! Just realize that they won’t, and can’t, fully appreciate what you’re going through and that’s okay.

8. Change your clothes when you get home.

This is a trick I learned from my therapist back when I was a veterinary technician – when you get home, change out of your work clothes right away! It helps you transition from work to home and gets rid of any yucky energy from the day. If I’ve had an especially rough day, I’ll even take a shower when I get home to symbolically “rinse the day away”. It’s really important to have somewhat of a life outside of the internship, and this simple exercise helps get your mind away from work and focused on being at home.

9. Fake it til you make it.

I know this advice is so annoying, but hear me out – no one knows that you’re super uncomfortable or nervous or awkward on your first day. Feel free to pretend you’re confident, calm, and collected because no one will know any different! I do this all the time with public speaking. I love doing it, but I also get super nervous and tremble-y right before I give a presentation. I finally just started pretending I was confident and relaxed during presentations, and guess what? My last preceptor gave me feedback on my presentation skills saying how relaxed I was. I was blown away because on the inside, I’m nervous as hell! So fake that confidence friends, and eventually it will become real, I promise.

10. Each rotation is a fresh start.

The one huge upside of starting a new rotation every few weeks is that you get a fresh start each time. Things not going well at your current rotation? Not vibing with your preceptor? Hate everything about it? IT’S TEMPORARY! In just a few weeks you’ll get another shot at getting a rotation you actually enjoy. You’ll also get to try again with practicing being confident, relaxed, and self-assured with each new rotation. After six months, I promise you it gets easier (as long as you have appropriate expectations!) – and remember, this is coming from someone who had literal week-long pouting fests at the beginning of her internship.

11. Remember – you’re doing this for a reason.

Things will get hard. You’re going to have patients who call you names, preceptors who look at you as an inconvenience, and doctors who think dietitians are a joke. Write down why you’re doing this in the first place and keep it in your phone or planner. I don’t known many dietitians or RD2Be’s that don’t have a lot of passion in their hearts for what they do, and this temporary, weird experience is one of the last steps that will allow you to do something truly meaningful with your life. Not too long from now you’ll have that RD after your name, a job that actually pays you, and this whole internship will be a memory.

12. Read The Empath’s Survival Guide

My final piece of advice is to read The Empath’s Survival Guide. You do NOT have to identify as an empath, or a highly sensitive person, or an introvert to get something out of this book. Yes, it gets a little woo-woo, but it also has actual practical advice for how to protect your energy and let other people’s crap roll off you more easily. Highly recommend!


RD2Be’s are some of the strongest, most resilient, most intelligent people out there – yes I’m talking about YOU! You can handle this. Trust me, if I can, you can =P I hope these tips can help ease the experience just a little bit for you, and remember, you’ll have a lot of great experiences too! It’s not all bad – in fact, it’s mostly good ❤

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Food Service Week 3

So this is the week of internship that finally almost killed me! Let’s talk, friends.

Here’s the thing about the dietetic internship – there are no sick days. We’re really lucky that the program at Life U gives us a some really generous vacation breaks for major holidays, but many programs don’t. It’s unrealistic and unfortunate for interns to be expected to be superhuman for 10ish months, but that’s the reality of it y’all. The lack of ability to take time off is stressful enough if you get the flu, but it’s a unique kind of nightmare when you have a chronic condition.

I’ve had migraines since I was a little kid. I’m lucky enough that, for most of my life, my migraines have been just on the right side of tolerable that I’m still able to lead a relatively normal life. That is, however, until I developed a stomach ulcer from the ibuprofen I used almost daily for years to control them. Thanks, doctor who told me this was an okay treatment plan! You’re the best!

So around the same time I started the internship last year, I also started a new treatment plan for my migraines. Things went okay at first, but soon I started having migraines every day. After a few months of being on the new meds (it often takes that long for them to work, so I wanted to give it a good shot), the migraines became more severe to the point that my acute pain meds didn’t even work anymore. And then, this week, I got sick.

It was just a nasty cold, but combined with the stress of the internship and the daily migraines, I wasn’t able to keep down any food or water; by Wednesday evening I was so dehydrated, hypotensive, and racked with pain that I ended up in urgent care. I kind of felt like I was finally being inducted into the Official Migraine Club when the doctor said I’d be getting an IV infusion of the pain medication Toradol – I’d somehow made it over 20 years of having migraines without one! Honestly it’s kind of an achievement.

Hey Carol at Wellstar East Cobb Urgent Care, thanks for taking such good care of me!

Luckily I have a preceptor who’s super understanding and allowed me to work from home through all of this – but I had to work from home through all of this. I’m just hoping that maybe down the road we can throw in a few sick days for interns so we have time to be human? A lot of us have health conditions that got us interested in dietetics in the first place. Hell, a lot of us have families, or tend to get sick during the winter, or accidentally eat spoiled yogurt and need a day or two to recover. Maybe when us Baby Interns grow up into Big Kid Dietitians, we can try to make things better and more realistic for the interns of the future.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox and focus on what I can control (a much healthier way to live, amiright?), which is myself =)

I don’t have a clear solution for how I could have prevented this from happening because I really tried not to push myself, but when you have migraines every single day you kind of have to push yourself or life will pass you by. Staying home every time I felt horrible wasn’t an option I liked, nor was it super possible without having major implications on my progress through the internship. BUT, I do have some good news to tack on to the end of this bummer of a week – since all of this happened, I’ve started taking this magnesium supplement, and unlike others I’ve taken in the past, this one has been a game changer for me! Since the day I started taking it I haven’t had a single migraine; in fact, this is the longest I’ve gone without a migraine in years. I’m not saying I’m cured – that’s not how it works – but this is a huge improvement! This supplement is better absorbed by the gut than other forms, and magnesium has been studied for quite a while for its role in migraine treatment. So if you also have migraines, it might be worth a shot!

Lessons Learned This Week

  • If you have a chronic condition, talk with your program director about it up front. See what options you have if anything comes up and be honest about time you need for routine doctor’s visits and tests.
  • You are not just a superhuman intern – you’re a person too. If you’re sick, be honest with your preceptor. Odds are they don’t want you to come in and get everyone sick anyway and will figure out a way to make things work where you can still get your hours and not kill yourself.
  • Everything is temporary. This is important for interns to remember (you’ll be done in less than a year!), and it’s important for people with chronic conditions to remember (symptoms don’t last forever). I get so scared sometimes when I feel a migraine coming on because I think what if it never goes away this time?, but it always does. Sometimes it takes longer than others, but inevitably it always passes. ❤

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Food Service Week 2

Hello there friends! This week of food service was absolute madness because we had our big holiday party which meant lots of last minute running around, putting out fires, and waking up (extra) early. So far food service has been much better than I thought it would be, and much of that is due to having a preceptor who isn’t just sticking us in a corner or sending us into the kitchen to chop carrots. I cannot stress this enough – you are not paying thousands of dollars to be a prep cook for 8-10 weeks. You need to be learning the job of a dietitian – that’s the whole point right??

Anyway, I’ll get off my RD2Be soapbox and tell you about my week. On Monday we had a didactic day at school and all the interns did a cookie swap. It was so much fun and there were so many cookies y’all. Here is a photo of some of us interns staring longingly at the spread:

Then Tuesday it was back to work, and we started things out in typical intern fashion – by making a gingerbread house. I feel like in a dietetic internship you literally never know what you’re going to be doing, especially in food service, and my fellow intern and I got super into decorating our house to be displayed at the party on Thursday.

Then Wednesday was spent clearing out and decorating the lunch room, which included a drapery disaster when the curtains we rented to hang around the entire room where the wrong size. Luckily we found another vendor that saved the day at the last minute and the room looked like a winter wonderland – yay! Y’all, I can confidently tell you that party/event planning is NOT one of my passions after the stress extravaganza that was this week =D

Finally Thursday came – the big day. I forgot to mention that the holiday party is a breakfast affair, in order to provide an event for as many of the staff members as possible (night shift and day shift folks). Many of the kitchen staff members showed up at THREE IN THE MORNING to get started on prep, and my fellow intern and I showed up at 6 am to pitch in. At least there’s no traffic that early in the morning?

When we arrived we started helping out with prep, setting out trays of food, and putting final touches on the room. It was super stressful because there was SO MUCH to do and just not enough time. Once the attendees started showing up things got crazy – Ari (the other intern) and I ran food from the kitchen to the event the entire time, refilled condiments and creamers, and put out as many fires as we could with the knowledge we had at the time. It’s a fine balance when you’re an intern between being helpful and staying out of the way, but I think we did a pretty good job of pitching in and making a real difference.

Two little baby interns about to get obliterated by a holiday party

After the party was (finally) over, we got ourselves a plate of what was left and sat down for the first time that day. I can’t remember the last time I was that exhausted and when I got home, I passed out for the rest of the day. Luckily Friday was an easy day, but my weekend was packed full with a mini road trip to see my brother-in-law’s team play in Tennessee. I really knew I needed to take it easy because I could feel myself burning out big time, but I had already committed myself to going and honestly I did have a great time. I got to see my parents and hang out with my husband and family, but boy did I pay for it the next week … more on that in the next post 😉

Lessons Learned This Week:

  • One big lesson – honor your energy. Rest when you need to rest. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to rest, friendo.

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Food Service Week 1

All right I’ll be honest – food service is the rotation that I’ve been kind of dreading. I’m not into food service (like most of us dietetic interns), and I really just had no idea what to expect. BUT, here’s the awesome part – I’m completing my food service rotation at the same facility where I did my LTAC clinical rotation! So I already knew the food service dietitian and the entire dietary staff. This made me feel so much more at ease and comfortable going into my first day, plus I found out that I was going to be joined by one of my fellow interns during this rotation. This was a great unexpected surprise and I’m super excited to have some company because doing a rotation by yourself, at least for me, can be so lonely and makes the whole experience a little rockier.

One thing that became immediately apparent on day one is that the holidays are a crazy time for food service. The big employee holiday party is coming up in just a couple of weeks, so much of our time was spent running errands, ordering special supplies, and pricing out food. Because it’s such a hectic time of year, we’ll be doing a lot of our module stuff after the holidays are over.

That being said, we did learn how to create a schedule, flipped through our facility’s policies and procedures, and got a tour of the kitchen – I started having a lot of unpleasant flashbacks from my food service classes to be honest but it was still cool to see the stuff we learned in school applied in real life. Oh, and all those annoying calculations you had to learn in class? Yeah, those can be done automatically in excel sheets or specialized programs. Imagine that, right?

Now, because it’s Christmas time and we’re all more than ready for our two week holiday vacation, a few of us interns got together to eat apps, have a couple of drinks and play games. It was a much needed mid-week break and I don’t even think we talked about the internship the whole time. Definitely make an effort to become friendly with your fellow interns – you already have something pretty significant in common with each other, and nobody else in your life will understand what you’re going through quite like another intern will =)

Lessons Learned This Week

  • Food service isn’t my passion, but it’s really not that bad. It’s an important part of the dietetic universe and if you like it, please go for it! We need you!
  • Give yourself room to blow off steam. Even better if it’s with your fellow interns and there’s cheese and margs involved.
  • You probably won’t be super excited about every rotation, especially if you already know what you want to do. There’s nothing wrong with just getting through it and moving on to the next one. If you get something out of it, awesome, but if you don’t, it is what it is. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make every single rotation a magical learning extravaganza if you just aren’t into it. (Obviously that doesn’t mean phone it in, but I don’t need to tell you that.)

5 Myths About Food Service Dietetics Dispelled


Okay, honesty time – I dreaded my food service rotation more than any other, and I suffered restlessly through each and every one of my food service classes during undergrad. And know I wasn’t alone in this, because food service is well-known as the redheaded stepchild of dietetics (is that term offensive yet? Seems like it should be offensive…). Let’s go over just some of the many reasons I’ve heard my fellow classmates and interns say they don’t like food service over the years:

  1. “I didn’t go to school to chop vegetables.”
  2. “What does dietetics have to do with ordering a stove?”
  3. “Who becomes a dietitian to run a restaurant?”
  4. “Dietitians are health professionals, not chefs.”
  5. “Why would I sit through eight chemistry classes to end up getting a job where I use none of it?”

Some of the things we say about food service can be harsh, and I have a feeling it’s because those of us who have no interest in it are forced to learn it anyway. But I think another part of the problem, at least for myself, is that I was never really clear on what a food service dietitian actually did. Do they run restaurants? Do they work in a kitchen? Are they managers? Are they cooks? I sure did a lot of cooking in my food service classes in undergrad, but I also did a lot of calculations and ordering equipment and … party planning? It was all very confusing, and even going into my internship I really had no idea what I would be doing in my food service rotations.

I think it will be helpful to go through each of the myths above and then, at the end of this article, I’ll lay out what a food service dietitian in a hospital really does, at least from what I’ve seen so far. Spoiler alert – it’s not what you think!

1. “I didn’t go to school to chop vegetables.”

I know that, unfortunately, a lot of people have bad experiences during their food service rotations and end up in the kitchen doing food prep for eight to ten weeks. This usually happens when you get placed with a preceptor who has no idea what to do with you, and I’ll say this – you’re paying for this internship, and you’re not paying to chop vegetables every day. During my internship, there are days when myself and the other intern (and the dietitian!) jumped in to help because the kitchen was short staffed, but these were rare occurrences. Unless your program director tells you otherwise, this is not the point of your dietetic internship. If you’ve become simply another member of the prep line, set up a meeting with your internship coordinator or director and let them know what’s going on. You should be learning what the dietitian does every day … which isn’t chopping vegetables, by the way.

2.”What does dietetics have to do with ordering a stove?”

Okay, this one is straight from my own mouth so we’ll get through this together =D If you are passionate about clinical or community dietetics, food service just may not make sense to or interest you whatsoever. But here’s the thing. The skills you learn in your food service classes and rotations are best not looked at under a microscope – ordering a stove, the shelves have to be this high off the ground, the formula for final yield is whatever (I’ve clearly been paying attention). If you zoom out and look at the bigger picture, you’ll see that you’re learning how to manage, and this is something you don’t learn in your clinical or community classes. Here’s the thing … if you’re lucky enough to become successful in your clinical or community careers, someone will want to promote you to a managerial role, and then those food service classes about leadership and management styles and workflow just might come in handy.

3. “Who becomes a dietitian to run a restaurant?”

This one comes from simply not knowing what a food service dietitian does. No, most people do not become dietitians to run a restaurant – although you certainly could, and I bet some do. I could be kind of cool! But most food service dietitians work in hospitals, long term care facilities, and with food companies, although that’s getting more into the food science arena (some people lump schools and food banks in with food service too, but those are usually put in the “community” category). Although it may sound like you’re learning to run your own restaurant in class, that’s really not the goal. The goal is, usually, to oversee a kitchen in a hospital and make sure it runs safely and efficiently.

4. “Dietitians are health professionals, not chefs.”

Yep, I get it. As someone who wants to be a clinical dietitian and have my own practice, I get it. But we have to remember that dietetics is a massively diverse field, and that actually, some dietitians ARE CHEFS! Remember culinary nutrition? That’s a thing! But really, food service dietitians don’t typically cook, and they definitely aren’t chefs. They’re managers.

5. “Why would I sit through eight chemistry classes to end up getting a job where I use none of it?”

Again, I get it … but let me tell you why those chemistry classes matter to a food service dietitian, and this one is big. The reason people want us running a kitchen in, say, a hospital, is because we can answer questions about the renal diet a patient is on and whether they can have a certain food. We can help come up with menus for a cardiac diet that patients will actually eat. We can train employees and make sure they are able to catch mistakes before they reach the patient’s room. We know the different levels of the dysphagia diet. Does someone who has a B.S. in Hospitality know any of that? Hell no!

So what does a food service dietitian actually do?

During my food service rotation at a small 19 bed hospital, I watched my wonder woman preceptor do just about everything. Here are some of the things she did and why they matter:

  • Manage the kitchen staff: you have to be a boss and deal with conflict. A lot. This includes hiring, firing, discipline, all that sticky stuff, but it also includes fun stuff like celebrating birthdays and building relationships. If you’re good at all this, god bless you. You have found your niche.
  • Create the schedule: … which is eerily similar to playing sudoku, only people will be mad at you when you’re done because you had to make them work a Saturday even though they requested off.
  • Plan special events: yes, party planning. This probably depends on where you work, but I saw the circus that was planning the holiday party at the hospital where I did my rotation … wow. Just wow. It’s so much work, but if you enjoy event planning, this could be really fun for you!
  • Pitch in: be willing to get messy. Just like any other managerial role, if you’re short staffed, you may be on the line serving, in the back chopping veggies, or in the dish room washing up. It doesn’t happen all the time but it’s part of the job, at least at a smaller hospital. The good news is that your employees will respect you a lot more if you’re willing to do to the dirty work when it’s necessary without complaining.
  • Keep things safe: Remember The Joint Commission? Did you just break out into a sweat reading that name? A lot of your job as a food service dietitian is making sure your kitchen is safe and up to the standards of TJC, because they can pop in at any time to check in on you. Checking expiration dates, making sure people are washing their hands, and coming up with standards and protocols for your kitchen are crucial and effect the entire hospital you work for. No pressure right?
  • Math: … kind of. Remember all those calculations we had to do in undergrad, percent yield, FTE’s, blah blah blah? Well, there’s an app for that. Surprised? Regardless, a lot of a food service dietitian’s job is filling out spreadsheets, looking over numbers, and doing paperwork.
  • Creating and maintaining menus: whether they’re patients, families of patients, or employees, people have to eat! You’ll likely work with the chef on the menus to make sure the food is palatable, cost efficient, and works for the patient population.
  • Maintaining the kitchen: something is always broken or needing to be replaced in a kitchen. It’s typically the food service dietitian’s job to look into how to fix or replace what’s broken, so yes, you will be ordering that stove =D
  • Creating materials for the staff: depending on what’s needed, you might be making training manuals, safety materials, patient menus, data logs, and other materials for the staff to use that will make their job easier and safer. If you like use Canva or other similar software, this is where you can get creative!
  • Stay on budget: you’ll likely have to answer to someone higher up than you on a quarterly or maybe even monthly basis and let them know why you’re over budget, or hopefully celebrate the fact that you’re under budget! In between those meetings you’ll look at food prices and figure out how to efficiently plan your menus and use up inventory you already have so you don’t waste money.
  • … And so much more: I could go on forever, but I hope you get the point – food service dietitians do it all!

If I had to some it up, a food service dietitian is a manager who has the superpower of science. She or he keeps a kitchen safe and, through doing that, keeps patients safe. That, in turn, allows the clinical dietitians to do their jobs, because if patients are sick from a food-born illness, or receive the wrong texture of food, or become malnourished because the food arrives to their room cold everyday and they can’t eat it, then all the nutrition education in the world won’t help. See, food service dietetics is pretty important!



Top 8 Podcasts for Long Commutes

Confession: I used to have major road rage. My biggest triggers were slow drivers and people who tailgate – ironically, I would tailgate people who drove slow and drive slow in front of people who tailgated. AHHH, so mature. All I can say is THANK YOU PODCASTS, because now I kind of sort of almost look forward to my drive to and from rotations each day. I like music and all, but nothing makes the time fly by like digging into a true crime story, or laughing out loud at a hilarious and touching interview, or learning something new and fascinating.

I know a lot of interns and students struggle with insane commutes, so I thought it would be fun to share with you my favorite podcasts for your listening pleasure! Full disclosure – I really like true crime, and I really don’t listen to much in the way of nutrition podcasts because, hello, the rest of my life is full of nutrition already.

Have a go-to podcast you listen to on your daily commute? Let me know in the comments below please! I’m always looking for new shows to add to my list.

1. The Nutrition Nerds Podcast

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Okay okay, shameless plug because this is my podcast … BUT in all fairness, it’s a great listen if you like to stay up to date on new nutrition research, stupid fad diets, and nutrition myth-busting. There is a huge backlog of 80 episodes so if you like nutrition and puns, check it out!

And hey, if you do listen to our podcast and enjoy it, take a few seconds and leave us a review!

2. Armchair Expert by Dax Shepherd

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I cannot overstate how much I love this podcast. I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon it but at the time I didn’t even know who Dax Shepherd was. Now a day doesn’t go by without me referencing something Dax said on his podcast – it’s embarrassing really …

For those of you who don’t know, Dax Shepherd is an actor who also has a degree in Anthropology and a passion for why people do what they do and how they grow from their mistakes. Each Monday he releases an interview with a celebrity that Dax describes as “an AA meeting for people who don’t go to AA”.

If celebrity interviews aren’t your thing (which even if they aren’t, seriously, give them a listen), Thursday’s episodes are interviews with legit experts in their fields. Sometimes it’ll be a scientist, an author, a philosopher, a sexologist (ooOOOooo) … but the conversation is always super juicy and stuffed full of new knowledge. Dax is a smart dude and goes toe-to-toe with these experts, so the show is always lively and a joy to listen to!

3. My Favorite Murder

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The true crime comedy podcast you didn’t know you needed, My Favorite Murder is easily one of my top five favorite podcasts (well, obviously). Every Thursday, Georgia and Karen each tell the story of one of their “favorite” murders, plus they release a minisode each Monday where they read emails from listeners telling their own hometown murder stories.

Yes, that’s a lot of murder, but it’s delivered with a large dose of humor for those of us who deal with tragedy by laughing (it’s respectful, I promise). If you love Dateline and stand-up comedy, you’ll really love this podcast.

4. Gastropod

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Gastropod is a podcast for the ultimate food nerd. They release an episode every two weeks featuring a certain topic related to food and examine it through the lens of science and history. This show is truly a passion project for the two women who run it, and they travel all over the world compiling interviews and visiting locations for each episode. There’s even a little bit of food conspiracy theory thrown in every so often which are always my favorite episodes!

5. Dr. Death

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” We’re at our most vulnerable when we go to our doctors. We trust the person at the other end of that scalpel. We trust the hospital. We trust the system. ” This 10 episode podcast is all about a doctor who butchered people on the operating table and managed to get away with it for years. This podcast was absolutely bone-chilling, outraging, and like a car crash you can’t pull your eyes away from. If you like a juicy medical mystery, this one’s for you.

6. Good For You by Whitney Cummings

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This podcast just came out but I can already confidently add it to my top ten list. Whitney Cummings is one of my favorite comedians (if you haven’t seen her most recent stand-up on Netflix, it’s worth a watch), and this podcast is your typical interview situation with the twist of each episode having the goal of being “good for you”. Whitney aims to provide some helpful take-a-way in every episode to benefit the listener and make us all better people – who can be mad at that!

7. Criminal

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If you listen to the podcast, this phrase is burned into your brain – I’m Phoebe Judge, and this is Criminal.

These short but sweet shows are like true-crime-light. Most episodes don’t cover gruesome acts, and ones that do come with a trigger warning. Some episodes are even quirky, like the one where Phoebe interviewed the women who stowed away on a cruise ship – and realized it wasn’t all that fun. If you’re interested in true crime but have a weak stomach, this is the podcast for you.

8. This Podcast Will Kill You

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I know what you’re thinking, MORE TRUE CRIME??? And in a way, yes, it is … but of the biological kind! This podcast is all about the ways in which the natural world can wreak havoc on our bodies and yes, maybe even kill us! Hosts Erin and Erin are two microbiology graduate students with a passion for telling the story behind diseases like measles, MRSA, rabies, and ebola. You’ll definitely need to be a science nerd to enjoy this podcast but hey, you’re an RD2Be, you can get down with some disease ecology right?

The Erins are so passionate about the diseases that you can’t help but catch their excitement. Each episode details both the history and the pathophysiology of the disease in a cool, macabre, sort of spooky way. Plus they give you a cocktail recipe at the beginning of each episode! Can’t go wrong there.

Don’t forget to share your favorite podcasts below!

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: LTAC Week 1

Before we get started, what is LTAC??? This is a term I heard thrown around a lot in my clinical rotations and I finally found out it stands for Long Term Acute Care. Patients who need significant medical support for an extended period of time go to LTAC, so the people here are typically on a ventilator and are being fed via enteral or parenteral nutrition. The goal is to get them weaned off of both of these things before they either go home or get transferred to a different facility.

My first day at my new rotation was a bit of a shock because this facility only has about 20 beds, and I’m coming from a hospital that had over 800! I’m used to getting records done as fast as I can and seeing up to 12 patients a day, so it took my brain a few days to slow down. Now that I’m used to it I really love the slower pace because it gives me time to really go through a patient’s record, write a thorough note, and spend more time in the room if necessary. Plus my preceptor is great and everyone in the kitchen is super friendly! The chef even insisted on making me two crepes for breakfast on my second day which was just what I needed to feel more at home. Free breakfast, lunch, and Starbucks every day? Yes please.

The frequent change in rotation sites is definitely proving to be one of the more challenging parts of the internship. Most of us have probably had jobs before and know how it feels to be the new person at work … it’s uncomfortable and a little scary as you struggle to find your place with your new coworkers who already know each other. With the internship, as soon as I get comfortable it’s time to start somewhere new! But hey, it really is good experience to learn how to be resilient and adaptable. I usually take a while to warm up to people (like, months), but with this rotation I’m playing around with opening up to others much sooner. Again, it’s scary, but I get to choose to be whoever I want to be with each rotation, and this time I’m choosing to be someone who makes friends easily and quickly!

First-day-of-a-new-rotation face

Aside from starting a new rotation, this week was complicated by my car breaking down and finding abandoned kitties at my husband’s job. The good news is that my car is now fixed (thank you American Express … ouch) and the kitties found a temporary home at the animal hospital I used to work at years ago. I am SO grateful they took the little babies in for me because they still needed to be bottle fed and stimulated to pee and poop, and we simply don’t have the capacity to foster little kitties right now no matter how adorable and squishy they may be.

And now to get real … the financial part of this internship process is really starting to weigh on me. My husband and I have already done so much to cut our expenses and yet life keeps throwing things at us, as tends to happen when you’re … alive. Car repairs, vet bills, medical expenses, paying to feed random baby kitties expensive formula, and just the costs of being a human continue whether I’m making money or not, and to be honest I really don’t handle financial issues well. It causes me constant anxiety to not have enough money. I keep telling myself this is all temporary and that once I’m an RD I’ll be able to pay off these exorbitant student loans and the emergency credit cards that have to be used all too often, but damn is it hard to trust the process. Money stuff is scary, and we still have one income and are living with my in-laws! I can’t imagine what single people do during the internship.

These are all things you hear as a student and think you’ll be prepared for, and then they become your reality. Remember my mantra “It’s temporary”? Well, I’m saying that extra vehemently this week. This millennial financial crisis is real y’all …

I hope that doesn’t scare you, but again, my goal is to be honest about my experience in the internship and this is a really big part of it. If you can mentally handle working during school and while completing your internship, do it. But if you’re like me and find that your soul is sucked out of you when you try to juggle too many things … I don’t know what to tell you. It’s going to be hard. All I can say is this is the final leg of the journey and hell if we came this far to back out because of some money anxiety! We can do this =)

Realizing they spelled dietician with a ‘C’ almost made me pee my pants on Thursday

Lessons Learned This Week:

  • Small hospitals rule. Having adequate time to spend with patients rules. Free food rules.
  • Sometimes there won’t be a great solution to my problems, and I can either have anxiety about it or learn to surrender to it. Currently anxiety is winning, but I’m working on it.
  • Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you’ll need former colleagues to foster baby kitties for you (or you know, some other favor).
  • And a lesson relearned – if you think you need 8 reference books for your rotation, bring them. Don’t be afraid to look like a huge dork if it helps you learn.

Clinicals Week 7 & 8

Well folks, that’s a wrap for my first clinical rotation as a dietetic intern! I’m genuinely sad that it’s over because I really grew to enjoy working with the RDs and patients at my hospital. BUT, that is the nature of the internship, right?

Before and after clinical rotations =P

The last two weeks of clinicals was crazy hectic because I was rushing to get my case study presentation done. This is a cornerstone project of our internship – we choose one of our patients to do a deep dive on and research advances in medical nutrition therapy and other treatments. Of course I had to pick a complicated case with a rare diagnosis, but I’m glad I pushed myself because I learned a lot about a disease I’d never heard of.

So amidst panicking about getting that done (which really was not necessary … panic rarely is), I also prepared a Journal Club discussion with my fellow intern Amanda for the RDs at our hospital. I love combing through research so this was a really fun project for me! We led a discussion about a new systematic review that came out recently about the health implications of red meat (you can read it here) and it was a blast!

I also got to follow the hospital’s diabetes educator for a few hours – this was a great experience that really had me thinking about the way I want to interact with my patients and how much more I have to learn about counseling. This is a subject I love to harp on – they do not give us enough training on behavior change in school. Effective counseling is crucial to dietetics and it’s something that I’m trying to study on my own during the internship. While we’re at it, these are the two books I’m reading right now to expand my knowledge:

And while we’re on the topic of self-study, I just want to emphasize how important I feel it is to pursue what you’re passionate about while you’re in the safe little bubble of your internship. I know it’s hard to imagine fitting one more thing into your schedule during the craziness off the internship, but it’s really a great time to build your network and start creating the foundation for your career. This is especially important if you’re planning to take the entrepreneurial route – I’m planning to jump right into private practice after I earn my credentials, but I know I need to start laying the groundwork for that NOW and build my knowledge base for my future clients. Doing this keeps me focused, motivated, and excited for the future, especially when I’ve had a rough day.

Oh and in case you were curious, my case study presentation went really well! When I first started undergrad for dietetics I was absolutely terrified of public speaking, but weirdly I was also really drawn to it. I have always loved TED talks and admire the speakers who are clearly nervous but get up on that stage and deliver a revolutionary talk regardless – this drove me to pursue things that desensitized me to public speaking so that one day I could give my own TED talk =) I started teaching classes at a local small business about nutrition and created a podcast, and after a year of doing these things my fear of public speaking is pretty much gone. I went from not being able to breathe when I was in front of a room of people to actually seeking out opportunities to speak in public! I wanted to point this out because I know a lot of people are afraid of public speaking and there is nothing special about me being able to do it – I literally just practiced until I wasn’t nervous anymore. That’s it!

The last week of my rotation was mostly spent seeing patients, filling out evaluations and other paperwork to submit to blackboard, and getting ready for my next rotation. On my last day I made sure to give my preceptor a thank you card and I brought donut holes for the entire RD staff, because everyone there really supported me during my time with them. Thanking my preceptors is really important to me, even if it’s just a simple thank you card – for one thing these dietitians are dedicating their time to further my education, but I may also depend on them in the future for a job recommendation or referral.

Now I’m getting ready to start my next adventure – four weeks at a long term acute care facility. Translation? I’ll be doing a lot of tube feed calculations. Luckily I like doing them so I’m not dreading it, plus at the end of this rotation it’s time for Thanksgiving break! Thank GOD.

Lessons Learned This Week:

  • I want to go straight into private practice, and I need to be confident in that decision and not be afraid to tell people that for fear of judgement. It’s my future after all, not anyone else’s.
  • The internship is not as horrible as everyone says it is (the whole reason I created this website is to spread that message!), but there are hard days. It’s cool to have negative emotions but at some point you have to move on.
  • And speaking of that, find something you’re passionate about within nutrition that can keep you focused on the days where your rotation feels completely worthless to your future. I really believe all of my experiences during my internship are valuable, but going home and working on my own business plans and learning new things I’m interested in helps me refocus any annoyed energy I may have on something worthwhile.
  • This is all temporary. This is all temporary. This is all temporary.

What You (Really) Need For Clinical Rotations

During my first 6 weeks of clinical rotations, I hauled a big bag full of books with me every day to the hospital. I may have looked like a total dork but guess what? If I didn’t know something, I was able to easily look it up! My motto is if I have a question, I try to find the answer – if I can’t find the answer, then I ask someone for help.

If you’re in your clinical rotations right now, are about to be, or are just looking for some good reference materials, look no further! Here are the supplies I actually used during my clinical rotations.

Books

MUST HAVE: Okay, who’s surprised this is first on the list? Krause is “the nutrition bible”, and for good reason. If you managed to get through undergrad without picking one of these up, go ahead and order one now. While it isn’t completely exhaustive, Krause is great for reminding you about the pathophysiology of different disease states and how to address them nutritionally. Things will get pretty jumbled in your head during the internship and this book will make you go “Oh yeah! I remember what to do.”

I really like this book because it’s concise and has recommendations driven by new research. It’s made for people with an existing base of knowledge, so you won’t waste time flipping through pages of stuff you already know. It’s organized by disease state and has specific recommendations for anything you can imagine – this is definitely one of my favorites! It’s also about half the thickness of Krause and may be a better option to bring on the road with you.

I use this book as a backup – in the event that Krause doesn’t have what I’m looking for, this book usually does. This book also has a super useful appendix section and several example PES statements scattered throughout. Unfortunately this book is really expensive, so I’d only recommend snatching this one up if you know someone trying to get rid of it for cheap!

I don’t use this little book as often as I thought I would, but I like having it in my work bag to take to rotations with me. It’s like a mini Krause and has tons of helpful tables and charts for nutrient needs, common drugs, labs, and nutrition therapies. The only thing that drives me crazy about this book is the useless index – I’d suggest flipping through the book ahead of time and marking pages you think you’ll need, because I can’t always find what I’m looking for when I need it.

MUST HAVE: Mosby’s is a life saver for clinicals! It’s not written for dietitians so it doesn’t always have exactly what I’m looking for as far as nutrition implications of different labs, but it’s great for looking up reference ranges and explaining what each lab is for. It also contains diagnostics you may not have learned about in school like different kinds of imaging studies. Plus it’s pocket sized which is always a win for rotations!

MUST HAVE: I use this little reference book for one thing – the malnutrition tables. It has the ASPEN guidelines for malnutrition diagnosis, as well as some example PES statements and everything you need to know about fat and muscle loss with pictures. Plus this book takes up almost no room in my bag and it was like 20 bucks! I’d highly recommend picking it up and keeping it in your work bag.

MUST HAVE: Now before you click on the link for this book, be warned – it is crazy expensive on Amazon. I got an older edition on eBay for about $20, so start there! That being said, this hard-to-come-by book is a must have for interns – I use it just about every day. It’s pocket-sized and has just about every drug imaginable inside along with nutrient interactions and nutrition-relevant side effects.

This book has the saltiest subtitle of all time – “32,000 Conveniences at the Expense of Communication and Safety” – and I love it so much. Because doctors seem to like to make up their own abbreviations, the ones you’re looking for may not always be in here … but standardized ones will be. A generous classmate of mine from undergrad ordered this book for me (I think she found it on ebay for $5) and although I don’t always find what I need, I do end up referencing it almost every day.

Other

I’ve been using this planner for years and I think it’s perfect for someone who has a lot going on (aka a dietetic intern). It’s not for everyone, but I really love the layout and how it has different to-do lists and a weekly view. People are always asking me about it so I thought it would be good to include here!

Image result for Grey's Anatomy 4425 3pkt Fitted Lab Coat w/Heartline

This is the lab coat I settled on, and I like it a lot. It’s heavy but not too heavy, not see-through, and doesn’t get too hot (all lab coats are going to be somewhat hot though). I think it’s a good length and it has plenty of pockets – I usually wear a size medium in women’s clothes and a small in this lab coat is just a tad too big on me (extra small was way too tight though).

Image result for Skechers Women's Go Walk Lite-15433 Boat Shoe

I seriously went through 4 pairs of shoes in just a couple of weeks trying to find a pair that didn’t end up smelling horrible, destroy my feet, or fall apart. I finally settled on these and they check all the boxes! I found them at DSW for about $60 but they’re way cheaper on Amazon. They fit as expected and are super super comfortable and lightweight.

Here’s a bonus for those of you worried about the heaviness of working in a hospital – hear me out. If you tend to take on other people’s emotions or have trouble protecting your heart with difficult situations, give this book a try. You don’t have to identify as an empath or even know what that is to benefit from a lot of the information in this book. Clinical rotations can be emotionally draining, especially if you’ve never worked in a clinical environment before. Try it out and see what you think!

Did I miss anything? What are/were your favorite resources for clinical rotations? Let me know in the comments!