(But actually Monday!)
Today I’m sharing an update on my dietetic internship as I am 8 weeks in (!!). This past week was my first week in outpatient. However, for the prior 7 weeks I was working through the first half of my inpatient rotation. There are many differences between inpatient & outpatient dietetics, but today I’m focusing on the inpatient side of things. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience and look forward to the second half. I learned SO much. Because every job becomes with its pros and cons, I figured I’d share a list of mine. Of course, I am NO expert, so take this information as a reflection on my personal experience.
-Everyday, I felt like I was learning something new. Patients are extremely complex. They often have multiple conditions that each have their own set of rules. It takes a lot of practice and experience to figure out how to prioritize conditions and nutritional problems, but spending time with the inpatient dietitians served me well in this regard.
-I put a lot of my medical nutrition therapy education into practice. Even though nothing is hardly ever by the book, I did get to apply a lot of the things that I learned into my assessments and evaluations. For me, there was less of a focus on counseling in school and more a focus of medical nutrition therapy, so I feel like my education was put to good practice.
-I saw several patients throughout the day. Working inpatients means things aren’t ever dull. It is fast-paced, as patients are continuously admitted into the hospital. Not all patients are at nutritional risk, but most patients need some degree of attention.
-The charting was fun. I know, I know. I probably will HATE charting in the near the future, but I actually really enjoyed writing out the notes for each patient.
-Results of an intervention can be seen soon after initiated.When patients come in malnourished, seeing the sudden changes with proper nutrition is quite amazing. With tube feeding and parental nutrition (nutrition through the veins) particiularly, lab work would show positive results by the next day a lot of the time.
-It’s easier to get in touch with other health clinicians for collaboration and consulting. Everyone is in the hospital for the most part, so a lot of the work is highly interdisciplinary.
-The interventions can seem so temporary. Because most patients are in the hospital for a short time, nutrition therapy sometimes felt like putting a patch on something that needed more attention. It’s always possible to consult an outpatient dietitian for follow-up, but it’s up to the patient to follow-up.
-A patient may be a captive audience, but not always an available audience. Patients see all kinds of health care professionals throughout the day, so they were often busy with someone else when I would go to their room. Hey, what’s another trip up four floors anyways?
-While I made many connections, I found that it’s hard to really get to know the patients. The fact of the matter is it’s better for them if I don’t have much time to get to know them, because it means they are out of their sooner.
-Nutrition is not usually a patient’s top priority while in the hospital. Patients in the hospital are typically dealing with an acute event. While they might could benefit from nutrition counseling at some point, it is likely not what they are worried about at the time.
-Time to give nutrition education didn’t always feel adequate. Patients who are soon-to-be discharged, recovering from surgery, or not feeling their best may not feel ready to receive education. Brief overviews are doable, but it’s nothing compared to a 30-60 minute nutrition appointment. I learned it’s important to do the best I could with limited time, but I know that’s an area I will need to work on.
Personally, I think the pros outweigh the cons. Nutrition therapy is an amazing science that is always growing and expanding. I love the continuous learning and new challenges that come with inpatient dietetics.
I need to do an update soon on the more personal side of going through the internship. In short, I feel pretty good, but do go through brief periods of feeling overwhelmed or less-than-adequate. I need to work on better sleep too!
Let me know if you have other questions!
Now you tell me,
What’s a pro and con of your current job/internship/student life?