Monday, February 13, 2012

Life Doesn't End When Clinical Begins

As an undergrad at Penn State looking into dietetic internship programs to apply to, I specifically looked for programs that didn’t have an emphasis in clinical and didn’t spend too much time in the hospital. I had a phobia of hospitals and thought for sure I never wanted to work in one. “They smell bad,” “The patients are mean,” and “I’ll just get in the way of the medical team” were misconceptions I held. However, after graduating my beliefs about clinical dietetics shifted. I began to wonder if I had what it takes to work in the acute care setting of a hospital environment. Having absolutely no experience working in a hospital, I started looking forward to trying out my clinical dietetics skills during my internship.
But while awaiting the start of my clinical rotations, I kept hearing mixed reviews from other interns, both in the UMD program and in other programs, about what to expect. Some said it was extremely hard because you work long days and have homework and readings to finish along with mini case studies and major case studies. Others said their preceptors were really hard on them. More than one had mentioned that I should be prepared to cry during this rotation. Based off of these accounts, clinical was not something to look forward to after all!
However, some interns had a really positive clinical experience; so in my mind I kept an optimistic attitude and looked forward to tackling the challenges of clinical head on. When I started my clinical rotation at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore I went in with two expectations: that it would be tough, and that I would give it my best. Currently I’m in my 5th week working in the hospital, and this mindset has helped me immensely thus far. Based off of my experiences, I can say that clinical hasn’t been anything like the horror stories I heard from other interns!
These are the tips I have for future dietetic interns who are concerned about clinical rotations:

- Be positive. You will not have all the answers. Take criticism with a positive, can-do approach and an open mind. And ask lots of questions so you’ll learn the most from every experience.
- Be personable. I heard once that a patient isn’t going to remember all the details about the diet education you just gave them, but they will remember if you smiled and were friendly, which can sometimes make all the difference for them. Also, be friendly with hospital staff and your preceptors. Smile and say hello and don’t be afraid to loosen up and have fun!
- Prioritize. Clinical does have more work associated with it than other rotations, but it’s not unmanageable. Make sure you have a planner and write out when you need to do assignments and when they’re due. And if you’re less busy during other rotations get a head start on clinical homework.

Above all, remember that life doesn’t end when clinical begins. For me, this experience has been very insightful and I’ve found that I actually do have a knack for clinical dietetics and really enjoy working in the hospital. This is something in college I never would have guessed! You never know what you’ll discover by keeping an open mind and staying positive and organized. Good luck :-)

1 comment:

  1. Clinical is not that bad at all - in fact is is a lot of fun!