Emily Tenaglia - Region 3
Hello everyone! I’m Emily Tenaglia, and I am a region 3 intern in Queens, NY. I am currently in my clinical rotation starting intermediate. Although I only started my first rotation, I have learned so much already. My basic rotation flew by so fast and I am so excited to dig deeper into MNT as I start intermediate. My internship journey has been amazing since I started, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
I have experienced so many amazing things in basic clinical, and I have learned a lot about myself. Going into clinical as my first rotation was very overwhelming but I feel so comfortable here with my preceptors. They have pushed me to be confident and strong and that allowed me to go outside my comfort zone. I love being in the clinical setting and this allowed me to learn new traits for my future rotations. I’ve been taking all the feedback that I can from my preceptors. However, it can be challenging to work with a variety of different preceptors who have different preferences. I did not let this discourage me and I took all the feedback and combined it into making my own style.
So far, my favorite part about my clinical rotation is interacting with patients and performing assessments. This is something I was most nervous about because it was hard for me to use clinical judgment without having any experience. However, after a few weeks I understood what it meant when they said use your clinical judgment. I started to gain confidence when talking to patients and it’s something that I look forward to. I am so happy I got out of my comfort zone and adapted to this new environment.
After I complete my internship and take the RD exam, I want to become a clinical dietitian. I am very interested in working in the clinical setting. My assignments and the guidance from my preceptors and advisors have really kept me on top of my internship. Advice I would give is to make sure you soak up all the information you can get because every bit counts. I would also say to start assignments early because they go hand in hand during the rotations. Enjoy your time as an intern!
Camila Rivera - Region 8
My name is Camila Rivera. I am currently a dietetic intern in Orlando, Florida. I am from Miami, Florida, and it took me time to adjust to the environment because it was completely different and I was trying to get to know new individuals. I am half way through my first rotation, which is clinical. Currently, I am doing my advanced clinical rotation. I had completed basic and intermediate clinicals. My next step is staff relief, which I will be performing by myself with the supervision of the preceptor. Previously, I used to work as a diet clerk doing patient service, which I completed before starting the clinical rotation. It was an easy start because most of the things and processes were the same.
I feel so confident when charting the patient, thanks to my preceptors, because they have taught me so much since day one, explaining the disease and the recommendation for nutrition intervention. My preceptor would ask me, "Why do we provide this recommendation?" depending on the patient's diagnosis and past medical history. It helps me improve my critical thinking about why we are doing this for the patient. It is simply not enough to provide the proper nutrition without first determining whether their diagnosis corresponds with the nutrition recommendation. Don't get me wrong, I was so nervous, overwhelmed, and shy when starting my clinical rotation. The most challenging part for me is asking the correct open-ended question to the patients depending on their diagnosis. The advice I would give to myself and to you is to get out of the comfort zone and experience things, because life is short and we have to take advantage of it. There is no turning back, and we must continue forward. It's okay to make mistakes; I've made them, but I've learned from them. The internship is all about learning new things every day and applying what we've learned in school. I guarantee that you will learn something new in clinical every day. It is a lot of information we need to know at the beginning, but trust me, it’s worth it. It makes me feel confident. I enjoy learning things or even remembering some concepts from the university and being able to apply them in my rotation. The internship definitely prepared us to be a professional in the field of dietetic and nutrition. I would say "everything in life is possible." If plan A didn’t work out, there's always plan B. Never give up easily!
Kailey McNamara - Region 1
Hi everyone! My name is Kailey, and I am a dietetic intern for region 1 based in Central Massachusetts. I started my clinical rotation back in October and I only have 3 weeks left. Time has flown by and I have learned so much. It has been very fulfilling to apply all that I learned from my DPD program towards my clinical experience.
So far, I have completed basic, intermediate, and advance clinical, now I am heading into staff relief feeling confident. During these past few months, I have attended rounds on several floors (Surgical/Pediatric/ICU/etc.) and I’ve become more comfortable with the interpersonal teams. In the beginning, I was very hesitant to speak during rounds, but now I am more comfortable asking and answering questions. Also, seeing patients and educating them has been one of my favorite parts of this rotation. Many patients are thankful and eager to make diet changes to better their health. I love that every day is different in the clinical setting. The types of patients I see changes every day and it has allowed me to become a more well-rounded nutrition educator.
My preceptors have helped me along the way, and I can’t thank them enough. They’ve supported me throughout this entire rotation. It has been so great knowing I am not alone, especially since preceptors were once interns too. My advice for interns is to never be afraid to ask questions. You are here to learn, and your preceptors want you to do well. Asking questions shows that you are thinking and want to succeed!
Kate Hodgetts - Region 12
My time with the Chargers has been nothing short of amazing. I was given the opportunity over summer to be a Chargers’ training camp intern and was fortunate to be invited back for completion of my leadership rotation. Women working in professional sports are starting to become more common, and it is a privilege to learn from someone so well versed in the field like Paige Crawford, team dietitian. Professional athletes are paid to be the best at their sport, and Sports Performance at the Los Angeles Chargers provides the resources necessary to do so. During training camp, I learned how to sweat test athletes to determine their sodium loss rate. The dietitian uses this information to provide athletes with hydration cards for reference before, during, and post-game or practice. When players are on the field, we are on the sideline with quick energy and electrolytes. For nutrition education and guidelines, we create handouts and posters to stress the importance of hydration and ergogenic aids to incorporate into the diet. Educating players on the relationship between physiology and nutrition is vital for fueling a healthy career in the NFL.
The sports nutrition class I took in my undergraduate program assured me I would love the job if I could find one. When I was given the opportunity to reach out to an NFL dietitian, I embraced it and I’m so happy that I did. The dietitians and staff I have worked with during this experience have been so generous with their time; willing to explain and train at length to help me prepare for my future career. I’m so lucky to be welcomed by this organization. In six months, both dietetic internships have changed my outlook on the path to becoming an RD. It can be intimidating knowing you will have to apply what took you several years to learn. Once you accept change and see that your preceptors are rooting for you as much as your friends and family, you realize that it’s okay to fail or not know everything. You are here for a reason, and you would not get this far if you didn’t have the tools to do so.
Jenna Keepers - Region 5
Hi everyone! My name is Jenna, and I am an intern in region 5 in Baltimore, MD. I am currently in my clinical rotation. I have learned so much in a matter of months. Over the course of my clinical rotations, I have become more comfortable speaking with patients and also people on the interdisciplinary team. I wanted to share in my post about an experience with someone on the interdisciplinary team in the hospital. For a lot of the patients I see, I read the Speech-Language Pathologist’s (SLP) notes. If patients have dysphagia or altered mental status coming into the hospital, they will not be cleared for an oral diet until they pass a swallow evaluation and are assessed for what texture diet they are cleared for. For patients that need a more significant swallow evaluation, they might have a modified barium swallow (MBS) done. I was able to observe an MBS with an SLP during my clinical rotation. During an MBS, you are able to see how a patient is swallowing and if there are any signs of aspiration. The SLP gives the patient a few different trials of liquids and solids which have barium in them so they are observable on an x-ray machine. It was so interesting to observe and helped me to better understand SLP notes to know why a patient is on a particular texture diet based on the findings from that evaluation. One of my takeaways from this experience is how important it is to have connections with the interdisciplinary team – to work together to provide the best care for the patient and to understand the unique role everyone plays on the team.
Three tips for future and current dietetic interns:
Marcy Brabander - Region 9
Hello, my name is Marcy, and I am from Akron, OH. I am currently in my last week of my clinical rotation. Clinical rotation has taught me a lot about caring for patients and myself. It was also a lot different than I expected it to be. For one thing, I liked it a lot more than I thought I was going to, but on the other hand, it was a lot more challenging than I expected it to be. I enjoyed learning about the different diseases and seeing first-hand the impact nutrition has in treatment.
Being in a hospital provided me with a greater understanding and appreciation for our hospital system and all the various aspects that go into patient care. I am not going to lie; it was daunting at first seeing patients. I was so nervous about making sure I asked patients the right questions and provided the appropriate care to them depending on those answers. However, after the first couple of weeks of seeing patients on my own, I gained a lot of confidence. I realized that I needed to stop being so nervous and to just take it all in. I am an intern, I do not know everything, and I am not expected to. By accepting that, I could shift my focus away from my anxiousness and redirect it to learning, not being afraid to ask questions, and saying yes to the opportunities available. I appreciate my preceptors for continuing to push me: pushing me to see one more patient than usual, pushing me to take on more difficult patients, pushing me to be more concise in my charting, pushing me to be better. Yes, it was tough at times and a little overwhelming, but it helped me become more comfortable and confident. It also helped to know that my preceptors were always there for me if I needed them.
As I finish my time at the hospital, it is bittersweet. I am sad to leave seeing/helping patients and the relationships built. However, I am excited to move on to the next rotation and the new experiences and learning opportunities it brings. I know now not to set expectations, keep an open mind, and not to forget to take care of myself. This is a time full of changes and growth. It can be hard and overwhelming, but little by little it gets done. Time goes by a lot faster than you think, don’t forget to enjoy it along the way.
Georgia Anderson - Region 4
Hello, my name is Georgia Anderson, and I am a Sodexo dietetic intern in region 4.
I started my internship with a clinical rotation at Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health in Hamilton, NJ. This rotation was rewarding and educational and provided me with diverse experiences. This was my first clinical experience and it allowed me to utilize all of my prior learning and really make a difference in patients’ lives. Each patient’s health circumstances were unique, and I was able to learn how to individualize nutrition care for each patient while following the Nutrition Care Process.
A memorable experience that I had was being able to observe a barium swallow study with the speech language pathologists, to really understand what happens when a patient with dysphagia swallows and how important it is for nutrition intervention. This experience allowed me to develop an understanding of the various texture modified diets and the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI) framework. Another experience I had was observing and speaking with patients with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) on dialysis. This experience allowed me to understand why calorie, protein, and fluid needs are adjusted throughout the end stages of chronic kidney disease.
I have learned so much each day that I feel confident that my training will prepare me to start my career as a dietitian. I look forward to continuing my journey in the internship and will continue to learn, grow and develop my skills.
Rikki Goldstein - Region 5
Hi! My name is Rikki Goldstein, and I am a region 5 Sodexo dietetic intern. I am currently in the middle of my clinical rotations in Maryland. Through my clinical work, I have gained valuable experience assessing the nutritional needs of patients, developing and implementing nutrition care plans, and providing nutrition education and counseling.
In addition to my clinical work, I have also been actively involved in volunteering at a local food pantry for the past seven years. Through this experience, I have gained a deeper understanding of the challenges that individuals and families in my community face when it comes to accessing healthy and nutritious food. I have also learned the importance of addressing the root causes of food insecurity and of working to create a more equitable society.
As a Sodexo dietetic intern and a dedicated volunteer at a local food pantry, I am passionate about using my skills and knowledge to improve the health and well-being of my community. In addition to my regular volunteerism at the food pantry, I am grateful for the opportunity to volunteer during the holiday season.
I am excited to continue my studies and to use my skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of others. I am grateful for the opportunity to combine my interest in nutrition with my commitment to serving my community as a dietetic intern and volunteer at my food pantry.
"To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world," — Dr. Suess, is one of my favorite quotations. My advice is to look around for opportunities to help others and gain more experience because you might be the world to them. As a dietetic intern, you have the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills in a variety of settings. Here are a few suggestions for ways you can get involved and volunteer your time:
1. Offer your services at local community events, such as health fairs or nutrition education classes. These events can be a great way to get hands-on experience and make a positive impact on your community.
2. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or food pantry. These organizations often rely on volunteers to help distribute food and provide nutrition education to those in need.
3. Reach out to local schools or after-school programs to see if they need volunteers to provide nutrition education or lead healthy cooking classes.
Heidi Nolt - Region 4
Hi all! My name is Heidi, and I am a dietetic intern in region 4. So far, I have put in over 400 hours and have learned so much in that time. I started the internship in the food service management rotation (FSM) at a local hospital and got to work on some fun projects, form good relationships with the kitchen staff, and strengthen my leadership skills. From there, I spent two weeks in Long Term Care (LTC) at a skilled nursing facility. I was thankful that I had that time in LTC previous to starting clinical, because it helped me brush up on some of my MNT knowledge. My preceptor was great, and I learned a lot by asking questions.
Now, I am 6 weeks into my clinical rotation at another hospital, and the time is going by fast. This rotation has stretched me in good ways, one of which being, forcing me out of my comfort zone. It’s also been very rewarding to get to work with real patients. Since my first week, I’ve become a lot more comfortable performing NFPEs, giving diet educations, charting on patients, practicing MNT for various disease states, and communicating with the interdisciplinary teams. My preceptors also give me opportunities to learn from other members of the team. So far, I got to watch a barium swallow study, sit in on sessions with the diabetes educator, participate in rounding, and work with the outpatient dietitian for a day. Every day is a new adventure, and I am constantly learning.
My advice for new dietetic interns would be to stay organized. I like to keep a clinical binder with resources that I can look to when I need it. Keeping your assignment calendar with you is a good idea to help you keep up to date with your assignments as it can be easy to get behind if you aren’t careful. I would also encourage future interns to make friends and stay in touch with the interns you meet at orientation. It’s encouraging to be able to talk with friends that understand what the dietetic internship is like. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You aren’t expected to know it all. Your preceptors have been in your spot once, and they want to help you learn and grow as an upcoming registered dietitian.
Kimberly Yuen - Region 3
Hi, my name is Kimberly and I’m a dietetic intern from Region 3 NY! I have just completed my Advanced Clinical Rotation and I can’t believe three months have already gone by. At the start of my internship I was super nervous about the clinical rotation but my preceptors have all been amazing in guiding me through this process. I’m about to start two weeks of Staff Relief and I feel so much more confident with my nutrition assessments and patient interactions than I did a few months ago. Going into this internship I did have past experience of being a DTR to help provide a foundation for my clinical rotation. But honestly, even if you no prior work experience in a clinical setting the Sodexo preceptors have been wonderful at explaining things I’m unfamiliar with and helping me with whatever I need.
These past four weeks I have been in the ICU, and it’s been a wild ride. One day I saw a patient for a routine nutrition assessment and then the next day they were transferred to the ICU and placed on mechanical ventilation. It’s one thing to do a case study on intubated patients and another to actually provide the recommendations to the care team. It’s been a wonderful learning experience and I have become so much more confident with tube feeding orders. There was a really interesting patient I had recently who had a few food allergies and instead of giving them a standard formula for their tube feeding we had to special order another product to meet their needs.
My advice for those who are nervous about beginning their clinical rotation would be to go with the flow! Every day is a little different but that’s what makes it so exciting. You’re not going to know everything and that’s ok. You’re there to learn and your preceptors will help you every step of the way. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and when you do that’s when you’ll get the most out of your experience. My clinical nutrition manager saw how much I loved interacting with patients and asked me to present during a health fair. She let me do whatever I wanted and even though I was nervous it become a memorable experience. So show up with a good attitude and you’ll never know where it will take you!