OK…last week was really something. Have you ever taken a foreign language immersion class, where from day 1 the teacher only speaks the unfamiliar language to you? I haven’t, but I’m guessing that my first week in my core clinical rotation at UW Medicine was sort of like that, only with lots of sick people needing assistance.
I was a little stunned that, on my first morning, I was sent off to see a few patients on my own. These were pretty easy patients, in that there was nothing nutritionally wrong with them…I just needed to find out how well they were eating and eliminating. Input and output. But after a term of doing outpatient dietetics, where patients made appointments and came to see me (and my preceptor), I felt like going into patients’ rooms, where they were vulnerable and clad in hospital gowns, was invading their privacy.
Between that, and trying to make sense of the utter unfamiliarity of life on a hospital floor, with all its different players (doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, cleaning crew, meal hosts and so on), I was shell shocked by lunchtime. In the locker room, I ran into a fellow student who had finished her core clinical rotation last term (and is now doing a specialized clinical rotation), and I was never so happy to see anyone in my life!
But all that is water under the bridge. Tuesday was also rough, but by Wednesday things were looking up, and Thursday and Friday I felt like I was finding my groove. Really, what I’m doing right now is fairly easy, but I still have a lot to learn, including about trusting my instincts and judgement (which is why I’m doing the internship, duh), and I know that things will get progressively more difficult, which is how I will continue to learn, obviously.
I don’t think I will want to do inpatient dietetics professionally (but never say never). However, I’ve gone from dreading going back to the hospital (Tuesday and Wednesday mornings) to looking forward to it (that probably started Friday morning…Thursday I was hovering at neutral). Patients come, patients go, and I have no idea what cast of characters I’ll see Monday morning. Kind of exciting, really. And most of the dietitians eat lunch together, so that’s always provides stimulating nutrition-related conversation.
And if there is any kind of moral to this one-week story, it’s my oft-cited mantra, “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!”