It’s crazy to think that I am done with my clinical rotations for my dietetic internship! On Friday, I walked out of the hospital as a Dietetic Intern for the last time (in case you didn’t see on Instagram… follow me @kokoronutrition). I wanted to reflect on some lessons I learned from my dietitian clinical rotation.

Despite how much I loved my clinical rotation, it was extremely challenging. I constantly felt like I was in the middle of a never-ending-marathon. But overall, this experience made me feel more equipped to be an RD. And has me even thinking that being a clinical dietitian is a great career path.

I was an intern at Keith and Associates distance program. So here are some lessons I learned from my clinical dietetic internship. And some advice I have for future interns or anyone who is going through a challenging time in their career.

Lessons From My Clinical Rotation

Stay positive with your preceptor.

One of the hardest part of my internship was being away from home for 12 hours each day. The hospital where I completed clinicals was 55 miles away from my house. So I would leave my house by 4:15 am to get to the hospital by 6:00 am. Then leave the hospital at 2:30 pm to pick up my kid at 4:00 pm (some days not making it on time due to traffic).

As hard as the commute was for me, when my preceptor would ask me how my drive was I kept it light and positive. I talked about how I used my commute time to make phone calls or listen to audio books. It opened up a much more positive conversation with him than if I had complained about the traffic. My preceptor was responsible for completing three assessments on me, so I treated him like a boss.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people outside of my preceptor that I complained about the commute. And I had my moments of when I was far from being positive about everything. BUT at your internship, keep it positive.

Apply What You Know.

I was the 45th intern that my preceptor has had over the past several years. In fact there were two other dietetic interns with me at the hospital. They were both from other dietetic internship programs so we all had different assignments, requirements, and number of weeks we would be spending there.

On my first day of my rotation, my preceptor asked me to write the note on the patient that we saw together. By my third day of my rotation, I was seeing patients on my own and writing charts. My preceptor wasn’t one that believed we should be doing a lot of shadowing. He believed we know more than we give ourselves credit for.

He would often tell us interns, “If you can defend your reasoning, I’m good with it.” At first I wasn’t sure what this meant but quickly learned that with medical nutrition therapy, there isn’t always one correct intervention or one correct way to chart.

One of the first patients I saw on my own was a heart transplant patient. She was a “re-admit within 30 days” patient. During my assessment with her, she complained about the “heart-healthy foods” her husband made for her and how bored she was with all this “bland” food. So she took matters in her own hands and that’s what caused her to end up back in the hospital.

She needed someone to discuss with her how to make heart-healthy foods less “boring”. So in my chart, I selected she needed additional nutrition education (which meant we would have to do a follow-up education session with the patient). When my preceptor reviewed my note, he made me defend why I chose to have another consult assigned to this patient. I defended my reasoning and he signed off on it, even though it would not have been the route he chose with this patient.

Don’t be afraid to demonstrate what you know. My preceptor said one of the reasons he continues to be a preceptor is because he learns from us. It’s a two-way learning street.

Utilize the down-time.

Everyday in clinical rotation is slightly different. On slower days, I had four or five patients and on busy days I had up to nine patients. On the days that I had a lower patient load, I worked on my case study, read through journal articles, or did practice exam questions. I would also offer help to the other RDs and sometimes they would take me up on it and I would learn something new.

dietitian clinical rotation


Dietetic Clinical Rotation

If you are an intern that is preparing for your clinical rotations, I wish you luck. You’ll learn so much and it is like the missing piece of our education. You’ll get to develop skills from all the book knowledge that you have.

Other Posts about my Dietetic Internship: