The art of reflection is a very important skill in dietetics. Reflection helps us learn from previous experiences and consolidates knowledge. So today, I will attempt a different sort of writing piece, a diary entry – the day in the life of little ol’ me, a dietetic student!
Okay, so let’s get into this. I thought I would provide you with a sneak peak into my daily routine and as scary as it is, some of my thoughts about what it is like to be a student dietitian.
Here it goes.
Date: Friday, last week.
Context: Clinical B placement, at a Brisbane hospital.
05:30 My stupid alarm goes off and I literally roll out of the bed, get dressed with my eyes pretty much still closed and make my way to the kitchen: Kettle on. Toast down. Banana chopped. Avocado sliced. Cheese grated. Tea brewed.
06:00 With a cheese and avocado toastie in one hand and a cup of tea, car keys and a bag full of books in the other, I complete a balancing act to race out the front door in order to get to the train station on time.
07:00 Flick through Instagram. Post on behalf of my website – Well Fed Explorer. Check emails. Reply. Ignore. Flag. Check schedule. Read over the ever growing list of medications I face daily. Arrive in Brisbane. Speed (or rather struggle) up the ramp to the coffee hub.
07:45 As I wait in line, I yet again understand why I am studying dietetics. The obesogenic environment in which we all live is everywhere. Everything that is colourful and right in front of me, in arms reach, is high in either sugar, salt, fat or largely all three. I pass the hot breakfast bar and consider ordering a bacon and egg muffin, I pass the almond croissants and consider buying one of them also. Then I spot the fruit toast and begin to the feel the temptation hit my stomach: “Can I please have a small soy latte?… and a piece of raisin toast?”. Damn it, I gave in.
08:00 Finally, I start the day as a dietetic student…despite already being up two and a bit hours. This involves heading up to the wards, collecting patient charts, trying to decipher the notorious doctor scribble, assess the medications, determine drug-nutrient interactions, the medical diagnosis and other terms, design a set of questions I want answered by my patient (asking the right questions is an important step and moulds a relevant nutrition intervention).
08:30 I report to my supervisor, discuss the case and determine unknown medical terms. I realise that even after 30 minutes of reading the medical chart, bedside folder and researching each medication I may have missed key information and I am back to square one. The medical chart reading thing is difficult, to say the least.
08:45 I head back to the drawing board. Back to square one. Assess the bedside chart – how have the bowels been? BNO? BO?
09:45 The nerves start to linger: it is time to see my first patient for the day.
Supervisor: “So Bec, feel confident? What are we asking the patient?”
Me: “Ummm, I think so…”. I go through the following prompts with my supervisor and look for nutritional impact symptoms that I may be able to assist with:
- Introduce myself, student colleague and supervisor
- Ask the patient if now is an okay time to have a chat
- Describe to the patient exactly what the process will involve
- Assess the patient for nutritional impact symptoms such as ‘Are you feeling/have you experienced any nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, taste change in the past month? Has this affected your appetite?’
- ‘How are your bowels? Regular? Abnormal? Running? Soft? Painful?
- ‘In the past two weeks has your weight decreased, increased or remain unchanged?’
- Complete physical assessment of muscle wasting. (Note to self: remember to sanitise hands before and after)
- etc. etc… (trust me there is a very long list and I would rather not bore you)
10:30 I finish the initial consult and obtain constructive feedback from my supervisor.
Steal/borrow/politely ask for some sugary biscuits from the hospital food delivery cart – It’s been over 2 hours since my last snack and I’ll tell you if I keep the growling stomach go any longer, there will be nothing left of me.
10:45 I spend the next almost hour writing up a mock medical chart entry before discussing it with my supervisor and upon satisfaction being obtained, I rewrite it into the medical chart.
12:00 Lunch – finally! Despite having an initial breakfast at 6am, then a piece of fruit toast and a coffee at 7.30am and a tiny sweet biscuit at 10.30, I. Am. Famished. The thought of another coffee crosses my mind, but I withhold knowing that a proper meal will give me the energy I am lacking.
12:45 Today is a long lunch, we usually get around 30 minutes and on a busy day only 15 minuscule minutes – other times I have literally had five. I managed to stop myself getting a second coffee but I find myself cravings an abundance of sugar and caffeine. I must be tired. Coke. Damn it! I haven’t had coke in over 8 months. I don’t even like it. $4.00 later its gone in a record 5 minutes flat. Placement seems to be turning me into a famished, poor and caffeine craving student, whereas before I was simply just a poor student.
13:00 I head back to the wards to discuss healthy eating with mothers newly diagnosed with GDM (gestational diabetes). Even though I just ate, I don’t feel full. I really think I could eat and eat and eat. Placement requires so much mental energy, it is ridiculous – I have never experienced such high nutritional demands in my life.
14:00 Complete an initial GDM appointment under supervision. It is my first time completing a full initial in the GDM clinic and first time working with an interpreter. With two faces listening intently to what I have to say, I realise they are looking at me like…like I am the expert, as though I know everything...If only they knew this was my first attempt at an initial appointment!
Food. Coffee. Oooo cake would be ideal.
16:30 Yes! I made it. Another day done and I am slowly but surely meeting my competencies…even if I am thinking about cake and coke in between it all.
I de-brief on the train with my other students attempting the journey back home to the Gold Coast and realise I can hardly string a sentence together. Seriously: Brain. Is. Dead. Time to stare out the window.
18:00 Silence. Stare out the window.
18:50 Home. Consider going for a run. Instead, I walk along the beach, sand between toes, eyes staring out to sea. Brain dead and probably still dreaming about cake.
19:15 Dinner. Make lunch for tomorrow.
20:00 Bedtime is calling but with a cup of chai tea and honey in hand, I try to stay up and read some nutrition guidelines for tomorrow… but fail.
20:30 Struggle town. Ear plugs in, eye mask on. Lights out.