Okay. So, I don’t actually watch grey’s anatomy, which apparently is a crime. A lot of my dietetics friends love it. Especially the girls who adore clinical dietetics…which leads me into my actual topic for this post. Prior to my dietetic internship, the few episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House” etc were the only “clinical experiences” I had.
Now, dietetics can be an extremely challenging field to be in. Our job as RDs (and RD2bes) is (usually) to guide people in making diet and lifestyle changes that will maintain, improve, or manage their health/condition, performance, and/or quality of life. In any practice area of dietetics, this can be a great challenge. Clinical dietetics is no exception, and from my experience, it’s a whole new level of difficulty.
I’m three weeks deep into my 16-week clinical rotation of my dietetic internship. I am working in a VA hospital, and so far I’ve spent the whole time in the outpatient clinic. I’ll be honest; I’ve been dreading clinical. I am not particularly confident in my medical nutrition therapy (MNT) skills/knowledge and I’ve found a much greater level of interest in community nutrition and other practice areas. Despite this, I always try to keep an open mind and I was actually excited to find out I would be starting with outpatient because I thought it was the type of clinical work I would like. I learned quickly that it was much more of a challenge than I could have fathomed.
The patients that I’ve seen so far are mostly people who have let a poor lifestyle manifest into disease, and who have no desire to do anything to change it. Sure, they might say they want to lose weight or improve their blood sugar, but as soon as you start advising them on ways to achieve their goals, they get defensive and don’t want to take your advice. They are looking for a quick fix to make up for years and years of abusing their body. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the way it works.
Spending your whole day around these types of patients is quite taxing. The way I see it, if you don’t want to help yourself, then how am I going to help you? Any dietitian that can break through that severe lack of motivation and make a change in these patients is a superhero in my eyes.
So anyway, after spending some time in the outpatient clinic, I started to get a little stir crazy and actually started wishing I was working in the inpatient units. Despite my lack of confidence in my practical MNT skills (I mean I can do totally fine in the classroom but that’s so much different than real life), I thought it would be more enriching and rewarding than spending days observing pointless counseling sessions. But then yesterday I had a school-related patient simulation and it didn’t go so well. I felt very incompetent despite extensive preparation and I felt a little bit disheartened. I want to remain as positive and open-minded as I can at all times, but I’m finding it much more difficult lately than I have in the past.
I have a high level of respect for clinical dietitians or RD2bes who want to work in this field, because I honestly don’t think I could do it. I just don’t think it is where I’m meant to be, but I’m going to do my best to remain positive through the rest of this experience and absorb as much knowledge as I possibly can.
I have to remember that this is all just learning experience. At the end of the day, I value all of it; the ups, the downs and everything in between. It is important to take a step back sometime and look at the bigger picture — whatever that may mean in your life. Be grateful for the opportunities that you get whether or not they are what you think you want. There is always a lesson to be learned and an opportunity to grow as a student, a professional, or just as a person. Next week I will most likely be starting a new rotation at the hospital and I am ready to take whatever comes my way. MNT skills, get ready to get MASTERED! Keep an eye out for updates as I move through the rest of my clinical rotation! And to all my RD2be friends out there, I LOVE to hear about other’s experiences so please comment or send me a message :).
Thanks for reading.