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

Image result for the nutrition nerds podcast

Okay okay, shameless plug because this is my podcast =P 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. My co-host Jenn and I have tons of fun and make fools of ourselves on a regular basis, 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

Image result for armchair expert cover art

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

Image result for my favorite murder cover art

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

Image result for gastropod podcast cover art

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

Image result for dr death podcast cover art

” 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

Image result for good for you whitney cummings cover art

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

Image result for criminal podcast cover art

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

Image result for this podcast will kill you cover art

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!

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.

NUTRITION!!!!!!!!!

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!

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Clinicals Week 5

Well friends, I am writing this post from my phone, at 10 pm, about a week late, and with a cider in my hand. Week 5 was an absolute blur and rather than give you a recap of what I did, I’d like to have a little heart to heart with my fellow RD2Be’s.

I feel like my internship is going really well. I’m learning a lot and, although we all love to complain about working for no pay, I’m really seeing the immense value of this internship. I can’t imagine jumping into the world of dietetics on my own without having had this experience first.

That being said, I am exhausted. I’m just not someone who does their best work in a typical 8 hour per day, five days per week gig. I think a lot of people struggle with a 40+ hour work week but feel like they should suck it up because “everyone else does it”. I think that’s absolute bull, which is one of the reasons why I want to work for myself.

Here’s the thing though, the dietetic internship is a 40+ hour per week deal, without counting all the extra projects and quizzes and modules to be completed after the work day is done and my brain is mush. I’m still trying to figure out how to manage this demanding schedule without slowly running out of steam. I’m also trying to figure out how to show up 100% for my patients when I’m so drained. It doesn’t feel fair to walk into someone’s hospital room as a limp noodle of an intern, so I push myself to really be present for my patients even on my worst days … but end up feeling even more exhausted because of it.

Again, I think this whole experience is important and crucial for us RD2Be’s … but it also feels like we’re expected to forget about being a human for 10 months and become an intern machine. That’s not to say everyone in my internship experience so far has been anything but amazing and kind. Y’all, I’m just so tired and it’s only week 6 😆

Now I don’t want you to think I’m miserable – I just want to be honest, because that’s the whole reason I wanted to share these posts with you all. I want to show that the internship isn’t as awful as everyone says it is, but I also don’t want you to think I’m some lunatic who has a smile plastered on her face 24/7. I’m struggling a little, and that’s okay.

A deal I try to make with myself is that I’m allowed to feel negative emotions, be bummed, and complain a little, but I also need to come up with some solutions at some point. SO, my game plan for now is to continue my nonnegotiable self care (climbing at least 2x a week) and be better about meditating. Also maybe wash my hair sometime soon. I know as long as I make my mental health my top priority I’ll at least stay somewhat sane!

Until next week sweet RD2Be’s 💛

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

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Clinicals Week 3

Another week of clinicals in the books! Everyone said it would fly by and they were 100% right. I can’t believe Monday starts my fourth week of the internship. I’m really soaking in the experience but I won’t lie, I’m also excited that it’s going by so quickly!

Another week, another seventeen trips to Starbucks

On Monday, my fellow interns and I returned to The Atlanta Community Food Bank to learn how to give cooking demos. At the end, we got into groups and were given a mystery ingredient and scenario that we had to use to create our own cooking demos. Our group made chicken salad using our secret ingredient, apples.

Tuesday it was back to work at the hospital. This was honestly a big day for me because I had the opportunity to speak with a young woman struggling with some major health issues that were just starting to develop. I was able to practice some weight-neutral approaches to healthy eating for the first time in real life … I left my patient’s room after our talk feeling so sure that I am in the right place, and so grateful that I’ve found my purpose. I really love helping people in an individualized way, and everything just clicked for me today.

There is something that became glaringly obvious to me though that I want to be transparent about. I have never been overweight. I thought I was overweight in my early twenties, hence the eating disorders, but I never truly had to move through life in a larger body and experience the adversity that accompanies that. I left the room feeling like I had made an impact, but also wondering if I should have addressed the fact that I am a thin person talking about accepting your body as it is and that I can never truly know her struggle. It’s an area I’m excited to delve deeper into and learn as much as I can about.

Wednesday was a busy day full of learning – we had a lunch and learn at the hospital about enteral nutrition and fiber followed by a GADA (Greater Atlanta Dietetic Association) professional development meeting with some of my fellow interns that evening. We listened to a fascinating presentation on the potential benefits of using the ketogenic diet with oncology patients, a topic we’ve discussed on the podcast before. I know you’re rolling your eyes even at the mention of keto, but it’s a therapeutic diet y’all! Someday I’d love to really dig into the science and learn more about its potential.

Future RDs!

Thursday was when things really started to get crazy – I think I had 6 patients (the most I’ve ever had) and all the RDs were slammed. On top of the mounting list of consults, myself and another RD were scrambling to get our materials finished for malnutrition week (September 23-27, mark your calendars!). We made a deck of cards for the nurses with malnutrition trivia questions on them, along with a “Faces of Malnutrition” deck with case studies detailing different types of patients you might see with this condition in the hospital.

So much cutting out squares

Oh, and no big deal, but I did my first bolus feed calculation of the internship (and second ever shh) and got it right! When my preceptor asked me if I wanted to try it on my own I hesitated, but the other RDs cheered me on and gave me little hints to help me along the way.

Went with 5 cans, should have gone with 4 … ended up changing the order on Friday due to intolerance =P

I also got to have lots of interaction with other parts of the care team this week, like the care coordinator and RNs. The people on my floor are all so lovely and fun to work with. Oh, and of course a week in clinicals would not be complete without me getting stuck in an elevator … this is seriously on my (long) list of biggest fears, so at least I’m getting LOTS of exposure therapy?

Me hoping the elevator starts moving again and glad I have lots of snacks

And just like that, it was Friday again. It may have been even crazier than Thursday but what really warmed my heart was that two of my patients ask for my card because they wanted to work with me after they went home. Obviously I told them I was still an intern and can’t take patients on my own, but that just really made my day. It was a little sign that I’m at least doing something right and maybe even getting through to people!

I also had my first angry patient on Friday – y’all, I was actually excited about it because I got to test out my plan for dealing with situations like this. I let my patient yell at me and complain and didn’t interrupt him … and then when he was done, I told him I was sorry and that the whole situation sounded so frustrating. He yelled some more, I continued showing empathy, and then just as I hoped, he calmed down, apologized for his behavior, and let me talk to him about his diet. I know when I’m upset I just want someone to listen to me and not tell me that I’m wrong for feeling how I feel – this patient was no different. I know tough situations like this won’t always go as I plan, but it was nice to successfully navigate my way through a difficult patient interaction.

Oh and how could I forget, there was cake on Friday. Cake that we ate twice throughout the day, because dietitians love sweets just as much as everyone else 😉

Lessons Learned This Week:

  • You know more than you think you do – just try before you assume you don’t know what to do.
  • Be open to not being perfect. My mantra of this internship is “I’m learning”, and I am continually reminding myself that I won’t always know exactly what to say or how to act.
  • Be truly interested in each patient. When people feel that they matter to you, they tend to listen.
  • Eat. It can get really hectic in a clinical setting, but if you don’t pause to eat, you’ll make mistakes. Duh, right?

I also wanted to point out that I have a new article up on my main website all about vitamins! I tried to write this article for everyone – it’s easy to understand but gives a little bit of the deeper science too for you nerds. I like to use it as my own personal cheat sheet when I can’t remember what a certain vitamin does or how deficiencies manifest.

Until next week, friends!

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Clinicals Week 2

Another week in paradise! If you’re an RD2Be and terrified of the internship, please don’t be – it’s exciting and you learn so many new skills. As you’ll hear one million more times from everyone who’s been through the internship, just keep an open mind and be flexible!

Week 2 of my clinical rotations started with this beautiful sunset! This week went by so fast (they said it would fly by, and it is!), but overall it was great. I saw so many different kinds of patients with lots of different conditions – diverticulosis, heart disease, renal disease, Crohn’s, and of course countless inadequate oral intake patients. One thing that’s really nice about this hospital (and I’m assuming most others) is that the electronic medical records have a template all set up for the dietitians that calculates BMI, prefills their anthropometrics, and gives you a list of diagnoses. This makes everything go so much faster when I’m typing up records.

As I’m typing up my records, I write down an identical copy in a notebook (I de-identify the patient, of course). This way I have a record of everyone I’ve seen, the language I used on different diagnoses and interventions, and a reference for how to treat common conditions.

I know bringing all of my books to my rotation might make me “look like a loser”, but the one day I didn’t bring books I realized how much I still need them. Also I really don’t care if I look like a loser anyway =P I don’t bring Krause everyday unless I think I’ll be working on my modules (I have a clinical nutrition pocket guide I bring instead most days). I rely heavily on the Food/Medication Interactions book and the Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference book. The medical abbreviation book is also super helpful, but it’s almost too outdated to be relevant.

This was possibly the weirdest sign I’ve seen in a bathroom – WHY would anyone put their hand in the toilet? Well, I can tell you why, because immediately after laughing at this sign my favorite highlighter fell in the toilet.

I take a lot of bathroom breaks during the day – it gives me a chance to close my eyes and do a mini meditation, plus it’s a good opportunity to get up from my desk and stretch my legs. Clinical nutrition is a lot of sitting (reviewing and writing notes) and a lot of standing (rounds), so I try to create moments of movement throughout the day.

This week one of my biggest fears came true – I got stuck in an elevator! Luckily there was a doctor in there with me so I at least pretended not to panic. Fortunately we were only stuck for a minute tops before the elevator let us back out on the same floor. I was late to rounds (still got there before we started though) but at least I made it alive!

One thing I was surprised by this week is how many patients are in the hospital waiting to be transferred to an inpatient psychiatric facility. I’m really sensitive to other people’s emotions, so I made sure to do extra mental preparation before heading up to see these patients. I’ve found that a lot of these patients just need a compassionate ear, so I spent a little extra time in these rooms when I was ale to. When I take the time to really listen to people and show that I care, they’re much more willing to answer my annoying questions about appetite and PO intake =)

And just like that, I was on the couch enjoying my sweet, sweet Friday evening. Even though I love clinical nutrition so far and could see myself working in a hospital one day, I also began to remember why I love working for myself this week. I’m a great employee, but I crave the freedom and independence of self-employment. I got really motivated to continue dedicating time to my podcast, create this new website, and writing new articles on my main website. I want to do everything I can to build a solid foundation for a private practice while I’m within the safety of my internship, so that if I do decide I want to jump right into it after I get my credentials, I can!

Lessons learned this week:

  • Don’t forget about your end goals. Soak up all the experiences you can, but if you have a passion, keep working on that too.
  • Be a “go-getter”. Take initiative and get things done in a timely manner.
  • WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. I sat next to a very experienced RD one day this past week who kept leaning over to drop major knowledge bombs. I wrote down everything she said because my brain is full of too much right now to remember, well, anything.
  • Take the weekends off – well, as much as you can. I have decided to spend Saturday on my modules and personal projects, but Sunday is all for self-care.

Until next week!

The Life of a Dietetic Intern: Clinicals Week 1

Tuesday

Well, here we are, the very first day of my rotations as a dietetic intern, and in clinicals to boot. I woke up Tuesday morning (Monday was labor day so we had the day off) feeling all the feels. I was a tiny bit nervous, but mostly excited and actually feeling pretty confident! I’ve worked in a clinical environment before (with animals instead of people but, same idea right?) so I was excited to get back into it.

I drove up to the hospital and found the employee parking garage (the largest one I think I’ve ever seen), drove around for five minutes and finally found a place to park. I then realized I had NO idea where I was or how to get to the employee entrance. I called my preceptor and she kindly came and found me and brought me inside, reassuring me that this happened to everyone.

Once we found our way to food and nutrition services, I was walked through an orientation for the hospital and then we went on a tour and got my badge. I officially have no idea where to get anywhere in that building and I don’t know if I ever will, but it’s an impressive facility! Everyone was very nice and luckily I’d met many of the dietitians during my visit the previous week.

After the tour I was given a display project to do – cue my spiral into anxiety. I was feeling like a deer in headlights after getting lost, orientation, the tour, and meeting everyone, and now I was supposed to be creative? I’ll be honest, I kind of started to panic. I kept repeating over and over in my brain “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS THIS WAS A HUGE MISTAKE GO HOME GO HOME GO HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” … and I share this because I want you to know that if you have the same thoughts, you aren’t alone. I muscled through the project (they needed it done that day so we could display it the next morning – ah!) and then like a gift from heaven, a freaking therapy dog pranced into the office.

My new best friend (and some of the RDs) – can you tell how happy I am?

This little pupper felt like a reward from the universe for not grabbing my bag and running out of that hospital as fast I could. We snuggled and got kissies, and he seriously sucked the negativity and fear right out of me. After that I felt so much more at ease and then just like that, it was time to go home (at 3pm! Woohoo!).

I drove through Dunkin Donuts on the way home and treated myself to a coffee and a pumpkin muffin. Once at home, I finished up some work on the handouts that go along with the presentation I did, diffused some calming essential oils, talked on the phone for an hour with my lab partner for life and fellow intern Jenn, and pet my cats. Self care, y’all! It was a whirlwind of a day, but I was excited to start seeing patients the next morning.

I made it through day 1! (just barely)

Wednesday

Wednesday was my first day waking up super early – I promptly discovered I’d try to have to get to sleep before midnight in the future. Once I got to the hospital and found a parking spot, I was actually able to find my own way to food and nutrition services and only got lost twice! I thought it would take me at least a week to be able to do this.

Once I got settled I made my way to the cafeteria to put up my Nutrition Corner display. The RDs were all so nice and gave me compliments on how it looked, which was definitely a confidence boost I was needing that morning. My preceptor had some stuff of her own to do after that so I spent some time working on my next module. After that we walked through how to use the electronic medical record software (it’s confusing, but like everything else I know I’ll get used to it) and then it was time for my first ever rounds!

My little project on cholesterol awareness month

Now, these rounds were not on the floor I’m going to be covering – they were in the ICU (or “the unit). Even though I’m not doing intensive care right now, I opted to tag along with my preceptor just to get an idea of how rounds go. To be honest I felt like I had been transported into an episode of Scrubs, only I had zero idea what anyone was talking about. My preceptor kept reminding me not to get to overwhelmed with this stuff because it wasn’t my current focus.

After almost two hours of rounds, we had lunch and then began going over the patient I was going to see that day. My FIRST EVER PATIENT. I was super nervous to go up to see her and my preceptor offered to let me shadow her, but I knew this was the time to push myself so I decided to take the lead. Once we got into the room, we quickly realized the patient was (very) elderly and (very) not in the mood for anyone’s BS. I asked her how she was doing and she opened her eyes, said “NOT GOOD”, and turned away. I was not prepared for this response and just turned to my preceptor with a “help me!” face. She graciously took the lead and got some information from the patient’s son who was also in the room visiting.

After filling out my patient’s chart, we took yet another tour of the hospital and I felt 1% more confident in my ability to find different floors. I feel like my brain was just in survival mode all day and I was having trouble thinking critically. I pride myself on being able to think on my feet, so this was kind of a blow to my ego. Lessons learned today – give some sort of answer even if I don’t know what to say. It’s better to try and be wrong than to say silent!

Thursday

I was feeling much more confident by Thursday, thank goodness! It felt like I was starting to get my bearings a little bit and I felt much more comfortable. I started the day by going over the patients I would be in charge of – I read through their charts and calculated needs. Then for the patient I would be interviewing, I wrote down some questions I thought would be good to ask – any nausea or vomiting? How has your appetite been today? What about before you got here? Honestly a lot of these questions were already answered in the chart, but sometimes it’s good to ask again anyway.

Then I finally got to do rounds for the main floor I’ll be seeing patents on in acute care. I was so relieved to find out that I understood almost everything they were saying, as opposed to understanding almost NOTHING during rounds in critical care on Wednesday. Two patients ended up asking to see the RD during rounds, so we added them to our list to talk to that afternoon.

Next was lunch, but first I took a bathroom break to meditate for 30 seconds (and also pee, duh). I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed or anxious, but it’s good to practice self care even when you’re feeling good so that you STAY feeling good.

After lunch I read up on the charts for the two patients who had requested to see us before trucking back upstairs with my preceptor to talk to the patients. I was feeling way, way more confident than yesterday – I had a plan for what questions I would ask, plus I had some great educational materials printed out for a woman who wanted to talk to us about her GI issues. I only got to talk to that one woman (the other patients were busy or already discharged), but she was super eager to learn and it went great! I honestly wasn’t nervous at all – it helped that I had already met her in rounds and that she truly wanted to see us.

Me after successfully giving nutrition education!

Afterwards my preceptor gave me some input as far as what I can improve on (mostly just remembering to introduce myself and identify the patient when I walk in, even if I’ve seen her before) and then I finished my records. Since I was feeling more comfortable and my brain was out of survival mode, I made sure to ask my preceptor if she had any additional input or suggestions for me from that day and thanked her for taking the time to help me. Then, I went home!

I’m really surprised and so grateful at how quickly I’m getting used to this rotation, especially considering the sheer panic I experienced on my first day. I’m going to try to remember this for my future rotations, so hopefully my next several “first days” will be more bearable!

Friday

Friday was another big day because I went to rounds by myself. This felt like a huge step and apparently it was – just jumping in and trying things is the theme of this rotation for me so far! My preceptor was on the same floor most of the time charting, but I went into the rooms by myself with the rest of the care team and made notes as appropriate. I also made friends with the Care Coordinator on my floor while we waited for rounds to start – striking up conversations with strangers is not in my comfort zone whatsoever, but she was super nice and was new to the hospital too!

Even away from my desk I manage to use 15 different resources

After lunch I typed up my records and reviewed some stuff with my preceptor before we headed outside to have our weekly check-in. We went over my goals and expectations for this rotation and discussed my strengths and weaknesses of the week. It was really nice to have this check-in and I’d highly recommend asking to do these with your preceptor if they don’t already. It’s great to find out how you’re doing and express any questions or concerns you’re having.

If you had told me on Tuesday that I would be feeling this confident by the end of the week, I would have laughed in your face. But it’s true! I think focusing on self-care every single day, even at work, was huge for me. Also having check-ins with my fellow interns and friends from undergrad helped me feel like I’m not alone (because I’m not!).

Lessons from this week

  • When asked for your opinion or input, say something. Even if you think it might be wrong, it’s better to offer some input than just shrugging your shoulders
  • Stretch yourself. My preceptor is great and always gives me options – watch her shadow or take the lead, go to rounds together or by myself … I always try to take the scarier option because the internship is all about learning and growing. Not to say do something before you have any clue what to do, but push yourself when you feel it’s appropriate.
  • Everything is temporary – including discomfort, fear, feeling out of place, not knowing what to do, and being totally lost.
  • Take care of yourself!

Until next week!