Above is an audio recording of me reading this post. About 7 minutes. Not perfect, but I hope some of you enjoy it. 🙂
My goodness! It’s been too long! I truly hope everyone is well. So, what have I done for the last …erm… lemme check… month and a half? Nothing much. Except begin rotations in my dietetic internship and question my life, but that last part is normal. I’ve gotten angry, I’ve, recently, made crying a part of my weekly routine, and I’ve felt incredibly worthless and insignificant. I could tell you guys why, but that’d take at least three blog posts. So, I’ll recap in one long post.
Rotation 1: Elder’s Center (Community Nutrition)
It was okay. As my first rotation, I was ready for nothing and had no expectations. My internship partner, Gia, and I were told to write up an intake form and then were expected to complete the assessments and evaluate the elderly participants. I’d done this once. With a college student. Very different. We ended up doing the evaluations together (Gia and I) and got upset at each other for it. It was the first time we had to collaborate on something like this and, well, there were kinks.
Later on that week we were also instructed to give a presentation on MyPlate to a different Elder’s Center. After lots of activity/interactive ideas were tossed because the event would be to 100+ people not 30, like we originally thought, Gia and I spent a whole afternoon making a ginormous drawing of a sample MyPlate. It came out really well! And I loved having an excuse to draw. Gia doesn’t share my interest in these creative arts but partook in the merry poster making regardless. 😊
This week was all about learning to work together and hitting some bumps along the way. (Side note: The way home was about 2 and a half hours by bus and train. All but maybe one day we also met up to work on assignments together for the next day, spending a grueling 12+ hours with each other daily. We’re friends, but phew! that was trying!)
Rotation 2: General Clinical Dietetics (Clinical Nutrition)
*SIGH* It’s been eternal. I hope to give y’all the short version. First week was general orientation and review. That was nice. I was positive. I didn’t mind having to calculate diets and tube feedings or evaluate case studies. It was kind of nice. Made me feel smart.
Second week. General medicine for me, surgery floor for Gia. First two days the dietitian who we are with (from now on called our Preceptor) is super helpful and goes with us to do the interviews with actual patients. Third day she let’s Gia loose. AKA alone. Good luck doing patient interviews with a whole two days of experience! …that was sarcasm. I was terrified, and the preceptor could tell, so she went with me one more day. After this we were on our own looking at patient files (yes, they do paper filing here) and interviewing patients.
Third week. Oncology floor for me, general medicine for Gia. Our preceptor tells us we should be much faster and, in not as many words, better by now. She asks back any question we ask her and is generally unhelpful. I understand the tough love bit. Haa… do I understand it… But! It wasn’t helpful here. These are people’s lives! I mean, I’m not going to kill anyone by giving them more kale than they need, but you feed someone with diabetes a strict diet of bread and sugar I bet you there’s going to be some health implications! This stuff matters. I don’t want to play with people’s health.
So, I’d ask anyway. Only to hear that the preceptor had told Gia that we should study more and look things up (by this she means on the internet). Why would that ever be my first choice, when I have an experienced dietitian right in front of me who is supposed to be helping me gain clinical knowledge?! I already studied. Or at least that’s what my Bachelor’s degree says. I know, I know, lifelong learning. There is no end to learning and studying, at least not if you want to stay relevant and competent, but my point stands! Our preceptor blocking herself off from being an accessible, trustworthy source only instilled distrust in me.
I will admit that by her asking so much of us, I am much more conscious of every patient file, medical history, lab value, and most minute details (I’m only human), but it also instilled that nagging insecurity and distance from her. Which maybe is for the best, because I guess I can get that experience and clinical knowledge on my own if I work in a hospital for years. (Which, at this point, isn’t likely.)
Moving on, fourth week. Surgery floor for me, oncology for Gia. Preceptor expects us to be, essentially, fully independent. She doesn’t even take Gia to her new area! My heart breaks and I (finally) cry due to the rotations. Arguably, our jobs as dietitians matter in every floor of the hospital. Healthy or not, but especially if not, it matters what we put in our bodies. But in surgery? It could be the direct link between someone developing holes in their intestines or bleeding internally. Serious stuff depending on what surgery or health complication the patient has.
I couldn’t handle it. And that’s why I began writing the Why I’m Not a Doctor series on this blog. I couldn’t handle me, basically a dietitian in training, having to go teach patients what diets they have to follow for the rest of their lives. And you might say, “yeah, yeah, diet shm-iet”, but if someone had a kidney removed, or part of their intestines removed, you better bet it matters what they eat! Teaching them what that should be is crucial!
I don’t feel nearly qualified enough for something that important. But I went in there and taught (read: gave handouts to) several patients with truly life altering surgeries and broke soon after. I wanted to be better for them. I wanted to be as knowledgeable as they deserved and I know I could be in time, but I’m not now and I don’t know when the next time someone who is knowledgeable will help them. It hurts to want to help, but not be able to. At least not to your fullest extent. Plus, one of the patients I’d evaluated the week prior in oncology died this week. So, you know, EMOTIONS.
Now it’s week five. We have to do something called staff relief responsibility. Essentially do the work of a dietitian on the floor we chose for that week. AKA exactly what we’d been doing, but alone. (The preceptor still checking our work and signing off all of our evaluations and diet plans, of course) Soooo, yeah, pretty much the same thing. I chose general medicine (anything to get out of surgery) and Gia, who I think is completely insane for this, chose surgery. Neither of us wanted oncology which happens to be the floor our preceptor is in charge of when she’s not teaching interns.
I’ll miss our little study room reserved for us interns and some of the sweet patients who I hope are doing well in their own homes instead of the hospital I met them in. There are many things I won’t miss. Hopefully the rest of the year (internship) is not as emotionally grueling, but I doubt it.
Either way, it’ll make for some interesting stories.
Stay healthy, my friends.