As of today, I am 18 weeks into my dietetic internship! Just to recap, I completed food service management with school nutrition education and community (at WIC). I am currently in my inpatient rotation in a 200-bed hospital.
I have only been at my clinical facility for 2 days now, but, I really like it. I’m pretty surprised too. I used to work as a Food and Nutrition Aide at a hospital and I hated it! Most of the patients didn’t care what you had to say. They just wanted to “go home and eat their bacon” (a quote I heard fairly often of cardiac diet patients). It is different being with the RD and seen as more of a professional.
My first day, I mostly had orientation to the facility. I was introduced to all the hospitals procedures and protocols. I spent a lot of time learning their EMR system with all the patient information. My preceptor gave me a booklet with equations (for calculating calories and protein for certain BMIs) and tube feeding protocols. This is literally my go-to book for the rotation. If you don’t receive something like this, ask your facility what procedures they use to calculate calorie and protein needs. You can make your own sort of “cheat sheet.”
My second day was where most of the action occurred. I learned how to complete a nutrition profile for new patients that needed nutrition consults. This involved researching the patient past medical history, current medications, diagnoses, lab values, BMI, anthropometrics, and calculating requirements for calories, protein, and fluid. I was able to shadow the RD for the second half of the day. I got to see a range of medical diagnoses in such a short time; congestive heart failure, acute renal failure, hypertension, dementia, hyperlipidemia, hypothyroidism, and more! I even got to chart on 2 of the patients 🙂
When I first started, I was afraid that I wouldn’t know what to say to patients. The more I learned about diets in clinical, the less I felt I knew! After the first few days, I began to feel more comfortable. You find out everything you need to know about the patient prior to going in to do an assessment. The assessments are usually short (<30minutes). Also, my facility (and probably many others), have access to the nutrition care manual, which lists every disease, lab values, educational handouts, and more. So, if you don’t know something, you definitely have the tools to find out.
Just some tips I have for the first few days of inpatient clinical:
-Ask as many questions as you can about nutrition assessments and patient procedure. I think it really helps to hear it explained different ways by different RDs.
-Practice finding nutrition information on patients. The one RD had me on a nutrition profile hunt my first day. I would get a patient and find out their BMI, calorie needs, medications, etc. It helped me to navigate through their system and to research different medications.
-Follow the RDs on their rounds; even if they don’t outright ask you, ask them!
-If the facility has access to the nutrition care manual, peruse through it. It is such a great resource (it is expensive to buy).
-This website was useful too: http://www.uptodate.com/home
Hopefully, I will be seeing patients on my own in the next few weeks! 🙂