Friday, June 8, 2012

Of Vampires and Dietetic Interns

As I sat outside the other day, shielding my eyes from the June sun, my skin blindingly white, I realized: I have become a vampire.

whoops - not a vampire, just Kristen Stewart

Just kidding (well, only sort of). I’m actually just fresh out of an intensive 5-month clinical rotation, the first part of my dietetic internship (DI). For the last few months I’ve been reading medical charts, giving diet instruction, writing hundreds (literally, I counted) of nutrition notes, running up and down five flights of stairs to the kitchen and back, pushing Ensure like whoa, calculating tube feeds and total parenteral nutrition (TPN), shouting above the bleeps and the ringing in the ICU, shouting above the din of nurse chatter everywhere else, and driving to work in the dark to arrive by 7:00 am. But! I am alive – even better than alive – thrilled to finally be doing the work I knew I wanted to do. For all the times I doubted my career choice – and there were many (ahem: organic chemistry) – I’m so glad I stuck with it.  Sincerest thanks to everyone who believed in me.  I owe you one, or one thousand.

In exchange for your undying support, I would like to share some lessons I learned at the hospital.  Some are medically/nutritionally related, some not. Bear with me.

1.     Stop smoking. Really. The vast majority of patients I saw who had cancer of any type had a history of smoking.
2.     Prevention is key. By the time you land in the hospital, a lot of damage has already been done. Make it easy on yourself and don’t get there in the first place.
3.     Get preventive screenings. Again, really. Get a colonoscopy. One day of misery is far better than the alternative. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Colorectal cancer is not something you want, but early detection makes all the difference.
4.     Be nice to nurses. They’ll give you better care.
5.     Be nice to RDs. Duh.
6.     Medical and health professionals: we all play on the same team. Everyone’s input is valuable; none of us can see all or do all.
7.     If you need help, ask for it. One day I got a consult from a patient who, based on our nutrition screening protocol, was low risk (RDs are usually consulted for high risk patients). Because she asked to see a dietitian, however, I was able to meet with her before she got discharged. As it turned out, this woman had a long and complicated history with food, dieting, and emotional health. I gave her information relating to emotional eating and general healthful nutrition, as well as a list of resources where she could get further information and/or counseling. She was very grateful for the information, and I was glad to have made a difference. And to think, none of this would have happened had she not asked for help!

So now I’m onto the other requisite rotations of a DI: community, pediatrics, and foodservice.  These will take me through to the end of July, and then I’ll be done.  Done done.  And then? Besides embarking upon my a mission to look like I stepped outside once or twice this year tan, ¿quiĆ©n sabe? Stay tuned.

scrubbin' it down at the pharmacy, aka The Only Place Where People are Paler Than Me

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on all of your career accomplishments!!! I'm so happy you're almost done (for real) and back to blogging :)