It’s unbelievable to think that our 10-month journey is almost coming to a close. After that first day of orientation back in August, my only thought was, “This is going to be a long year.” But boy was I wrong! Now the new dietetic interns have been matched (congrats!) and our time will soon be over. While I wouldn’t change a thing, there are some things I had wished I had known going into the internship. So, voila! I’ve created a list of the five things I wished I’d known.
1. You do not need to know EVERYTHING! I think this was one of the first things I had to come to terms with. I used to work myself up going into a new rotation, thinking that I would be quizzed and questioned on every little thing, when in reality, your preceptors and rotation sites do not expect you to be a genius. If you were, you wouldn’t be in an internship! So don’t try to memorize every single lab value and medication on the market before starting clinical or spend countless hours reviewing your food service book – you’ll only make yourself crazy!
2. Stayed organized and ahead of the game. You’re schedule is constantly changing, so my biggest piece of advice is learn organizational skills – and quickly! Invest in a planner or big wall calendar and map out all of your rotations that way you know exactly where to go each week. It’s also great to write down any due dates or homework assignments that are coming up. We’ve also learned about a ton of tech tools this year for organization like Wunderlist and Trello – these are nice to have in your back pocket…i.e. on your smart phone.
3. Never be afraid to ask questions. If you never ask questions, you’ll never learn. I was always afraid I would appear “stupid” or “dumb” if I asked certain questions, but you’re preceptors are more than willingly to help out in any way they can, so ask! Many of your preceptors have had years of experience in the profession so they are the perfect people to look to for answers.
4. Learn some patience. Because it will be tested at times. Whether it’s the hour and a half long one-way commute you have, or the patient who just doesn’t want to listen or cooperate, just remember things could be much worse. I promise all of the commuting is worth it! The experiences we get in this internship program are so unique and unlike many other programs so sometimes we do have to travel. And the patients and clients we see are what we will experience in the real world, so it’s just a matter of killing them with kindness to hopefully give them a small nudge to make a change – and don’t take it personally.
5. Keep that chin up. There will be some days where things just won’t work out for you, or information won’t stick, or maybe you or preceptor just isn’t having a great day. Don’t fret! Just take a deep breath and remember that tomorrow is a new day.
And the bottom line is to HAVE FUN! It truly is a one of a kind experience that you get in your internship so make the most of it. If you make it enjoyable, it will be something you’ll never forget. You get out of your internship what you put in – so keep that in mind. It’s a learning opportunity that can only help you to grow in your knowledge and experience, so enjoy it!