Recap: My Clinical Nutrition Internship Semester

Hi friends! I'm excited to be recapping my clinical nutrition internship semester on the blog today! Can I just take a moment to gush about how much I loved my clinical experience? Going in, I had no idea what to expect. Should I wear a lab coat? Should I have a clipboard? Was I supposed to know how to calculate the perfect TPN on day 1, or be expected to hold a bomb inside of a body cavity? Also, should I have watched this much Grey's Anatomy beforehand? Probably no on that last one. I should turn off Netflix. Anyway, I couldn't have asked for a better experience and nicer preceptors who were patient with me, challenged me, and had confidence in me so I could learn how to care for patients in a supportive environment. I loved each rotation and could see myself working in clinical one day! So, let's dive in!

MY CLINICAL NUTRITION INTERNSHIP SEMESTER

I'm in a clinically focused internship, so we rotate for 16 weeks through a clinical site compared to 8 weeks of management and 8 weeks of community. I knew choosing where I would spend an entire semester would be a big deal, and I was so excited to see a pediatric hospital on the list! I actually had a research internship at the same place during undergrad, so getting the spot I wanted was great because I was already comfortable there.

Basically, my schedule is class from 9-5 on Mondays and then supervised practice from 9-5 on Tuesday-Friday (literally a full time job once it's all said and done). This schedule is held by all of the interns at my school, we just rotate through different sites. So next semester, I'll still do Monday class but spend the rest of my week at WIC and/or a school district. Busy busy busy! This fall, I spent my first few weeks with my assigned main preceptor, a renal RD. She made sure I knew how to find my way around a chart, print patient reports, assess a patient's nutrition status, and just generally look like I knew what I was doing. Also, the first thing she did every day was make sure I had found a cup of coffee. Basically, she was the best.

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ROTATIONS

After a few weeks of orientation, it was time to dive in and I started moving through the different areas of the hospital + clinics. When you only get a week with each rotation, you take THOROUGH notes and pay alllllll the attention. Some specialties I rotated through include: cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, weight management, and the pediatric intensive care unit. To be honest, I truly couldn't pick a favorite if I tried. Each rotation was so different that I found myself picking favorite tasks rather than units. For example, I learned that I much prefer any situation that includes conversation with a patient (and parents)...so I prefer consulting and counseling over tube feeding calculations (although I love those too #mathnerdproblems).

clinical nutrition internship textbooks

The last few weeks of my clinicals were spent on staff relief, where I returned to the renal service to more or less act as the dietitian. I thought I would be more intimidated by this, but all of my preceptors had me well-prepared from a nutrition standpoint, and the most nerve-wracking part was being asked questions on rounds or having to voice my own concerns and comments. Thankfully, the residents and attendings were great and I soon got over my nervousness about talking and just did the dang thing. The last few weeks flew by and I feel like I really built up my confidence as as {future} clinician!

LESSONS LEARNED

I am not hip.

At all. Like, I don't know what's trendy and I don't speak the language of teenagers. Although a patient did teach me how to dab, so maybe I'll get there one day? But really, this is a long-standing situation. I taught a kids' cooking camp over the summer and asked if it was correct to say that our food was "fire" to which I was politely and firmly told, "Miss Amy...stop."

Despite not being hip with teens...I know a surprising amount of little-kid pop culture. The names of the dogs of Paw Patrol come easily to me. In the night, the PJ Masks crew saves the day. I can also throw it back to TMNT and Power Rangers if need be. I may or may not have Disney soundtracks on my phone. Whatever works, y'all.

How to ask questions!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of asking questions. Not just any questions, GOOD questions. Ask them, then ask some more. Or sometimes just say, "Tell me more about that." Honestly, this is just a life skill in general. Questions help you reach understanding with people and build a deeper connection, and as a clinician they help you discover more and more information and provide the best care. I may or may not subtly practice my question-asking in conversation with my friends...although they did catch on since we took the same nutrition counseling class.

Be a sponge.

This is so important, because really, 16 weeks/480 hours/etc FLIES by. Soak it up. Learn all the things. And take all the notes.

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Despite being sad that my clinical rotations are over, I'm so excited to start my management/community nutrition rotations in the spring! Seriously, I can't believe that I'm already halfway done and allllmost a dietitian. Time, feel free to both slow down and speed up. That would work just fine for me.

Are you an RD? RD2be? Tell me about your clinical nutrition internship rotation!

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recap my clinical nutrition internship semester