Saturday, September 3, 2011

Life of a Dietetic Intern: Lessons from Clinical 1

Part 1 of  6= Complete!

I spent the first 5 weeks of my dietetic internship doing my first part of my clinical rotation-at LBJ Hospital, Ben Taub, and Quentin Mease in Houston. They are all part of the The Harris County Hospital system, which serves over 1 million under and un-insured patients, each and every month. Harris County (which is all of Houston) is the 3rd most populated county in the US. It was a patient population I had thus far in my career, had no experience with. It was far more common to see Spanish speaking patients than English-speaking, and I've never seen fewer teeth in a ward. It was eye-opening to hear the stories of people with BMI's greater than 70 (normal is 18-22), triglyceride levels of 1500 (normal is <150), and Glucose levels through the roof.

I did my share of diabetes, renal failure, and heart disease educations, cramming in as much information as a 20 minute session could allow. I met people who hung on every word, sure I held the secret to their recovery, and people who found my talking more annoying than a mosquito. I consulted patients everyone from the wheel-chair bound paraplegic (drunk-driving accident), to pysch patients who said "the only thing to do here is eat", to mothers with gestational diabetes. I was part of interdisciplinary care teams, and went on wound care rounds (for the first and hopefully last time. There's a reason I didn't go to Medical school).I calculated tube feedings, advised renal, low sodium, and low cholesterol diets. I shuttered at the food that is served in the hospital cafeteria (nothing like chicken-fried steak, french fries and slurpees to "promote health").

Sometimes it could be a very sad place to work-seeing patients with a list longer than a page of aliments, people with broken homes, or uncertain living conditions. But it could also be a place of great love and great hope. I think my patients taught me way more than I taught them.

1 thing I do have to say: Scrubs are the most comfortable work attire ever.
 (Well maybe secondary to working at Lululemon). I'm going to miss that.

I admire the hard work clinical dietitians do. They help heal their patients, and get them on their way to (what we hope is) a speedy recovery. And while I'm pretty sure it's not where you'll find me in a year, I do value their work.

Next: Wellness Rotation at Life Long Weigh- a private practice by a dietitian who believes in the power of whole, real foods. Can't wait!!!

For other dietetics students, my good friend and superstar RD-to-be, Carlene wrote a great post about facing the challenges during dietetic internships. Read it!


carlenesfigments said...

What a ride!!! The population sounds challenging, and with such a big hospital I bet you were dragged all around. I just completed week 1 of medsurg/onc and I can't imagine how I'll feel by week five. Thanks for the shout out!

Angela said...

I find these types of posts extremely helpful and interesting. I'm working on my prereqs and hope to get into a coordinated dietetics program next fall (if I don't fail any science classes...eek). I love to hear more about the inside of a dietitian's training! Just curious, what do you hope to do with your degree once you're completely done? I don't really want to work in a hospital, so I'm thinking community nutrition or a wellness center. Curious on your thoughts.

Allison @ PickyEatingRD said...

A lot of what you are feeling is what I felt after my clinical rotation. Its been 4 yrs since my inteership and the thought of working in a clinical setting still doesn't appeal to me. I had such a difficult time having only 20minutes with patients. I felt like I was giving them a small taste of what changes could be in their future but knowing the follow up would prob be zilch.

Tanya @ Dine, Dash & Deadlift said...

Congrats on getting through rotation #1! Do you have the rest of your schedule lined up?

Bianca said...

Good luck with your next rotation! Thanks for sharing. My clinical will be coming up in a a few years and its great to hear about what I will be doing.

Sara said...

so jealous that you got to wear scrubs! talk about taking the fuss out of what to wear.

Rachel said...

you get to wear scrubs?! awesome. gl Elizabeth in rotations!!