Guess what? I finished my inpatient clinical rotation today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry, I’m a little excited.
Out of my entire 8 weeks, this week was definitely my hardest. I was running on little sleep and was behind on my school work. I also had to write a research paper, which I didn’t even start on until 2 days before it was due. Thank you to lots of caffeine and a Kenny Chesney concert because I think those two things got me through the week.
Now that I’m finished with my IPC rotation, it’s nice to reflect on my time spent learning all about clinical dietetics. I honestly didn’t know what a clinical dietitian did before this rotation. I thought they mainly prescribed modified diets. They sometimes do that but mostly the speech therapist takes care of that. I’m sure every facility is different but this is what I did at my facility:
- Educated patients on nutrition recommendations for specific conditions (diabetes, congestive heart failure, stroke, drugs that have food interactions, wounds, etc.)
- Ordered supplements for malnourished patients
- Performed assessments to determine if patients were at nutritional risk
- Filled nutrition support orders (tube feedings, TPN, and PPN)
I was in a smaller hospital but I’ve heard that dietitians at larger hospitals could be assigned to 1 specific task (like the cardiac floor where you specifically do cardiac ed all day)
Since I have worked in school nutrition for the past 5 years I feel like I have a unique perspective on my internship. I already kind of know the things that I like and dislike in the work place and I’m able to use that knowledge to determine if I would like a job working in my specific rotation.
These are the positives and negatives I came up with for working in inpatient clinical dietetics:
- Very routine: once in a blue moon you may have to drop what you’re doing for an emergency consult (like a TPN with a deadline) but most of the time you can do things at your own pace throughout the day.
- Professional work environment: it was very cool to work medical professionals . They are a wealth of knowledge and I constantly learned new things.
- Uniform: the dress code where I interned was scrubs and tennis shoes. I loved this! I went from planning out my outfits, accessories, shoes, wearing a lot of makeup and curling my hair to waking up in the morning and throwing on a pair of scrubs. I was always comfy.
- Rewarding: so maybe not *every* patient wants to talk to you about their diet but I felt like patients regularly thanked me for visiting them and generally appreciated our conversation.
- Hospital hours: depending on the facility, you may have to work nights/weekends/holidays
- Lower pay: this could really depend on the facility but the salary for clinical dietitians is not all that great unless you become some sort of supervisor
- You can be responsible for someone’s life: my greatest fear is killing someone by messing up the electrolytes in a TPN solution. I didn’t really have the opportunity to mess anything like that up in my rotation but I don’t think I will ever be 100% comfortable with nutrition support
I think I would enjoy working in IPC if I was in a medium-sized facility or worked on a floor doing educations. I definitely would not be happy working in a very small hospital because it’s not fast-paced enough for me. The salary is also kind of a deterrent because I already make more working in school food service than the starting salary for a clinical dietitian. However, there are a lot of challenges that come with working in school food services: dealing with emergencies, extremely stressful, taking work home with you (even if it’s just mental) and fielding LOTS of complaints. So the calmer nature of clinical is appealing in that sense :)
So next week I will begin my food service rotation, which is 7 weeks total. I feel like my whole internship is just downhill from here because my IPC rotation was the longest and the one I was the most scared about.
In case you missed it:
- Orientation- 1 week (completed!)
- Inpatient Clinical- 6 weeks (completed!)
- Outpatient Clinical- 3 weeks
- Long-Term Care Clinical- 2 weeks
- Staff Experience Clinical- 2 weeks (completed!)
- Community- 4 weeks
- School Food Service Management- 5 weeks*
- School Nutrition Education- 2 weeks
I am SO happy that I came across your blog and was able to read about your experience as a dietetic intern. I am starting my first rotation next week ( School Food Service Management) and I can feel my anxiety rising!! Reading about your experiences has definitely helped ease my nerves a little bit though! Your tips and positive outlook on the process is comforting!
For your clinical rotation, were you expected to be able to perform EN, TPN/PPN calculations by hand without any references? Just wondering if I should brush up on these before my first day!