I have spent over 200 hours in the inpatient setting, and I cannot believe how much I have grown personally and professionally during the last few weeks. I recently graduated from my undergraduate DPD program in May. Without any clinical experience under my belt, I previously thought of participating in a patient's care plan and putting my knowledge into practice to be nerve-racking. But I have found that having courage gives you the ability to put aside your fear of failure and grow.
My time in the inpatient setting has been profound. Having an unobstructed view of the American healthcare system has allowed me to see firsthand the social determinants of health and the health disparities in our communities. In our undergraduate medical nutrition therapy courses, we often learn about one disease state at a time. But upon starting my clinical rotation, it quickly became apparent that it is far more common to see a patient with numerous comorbidities than it is to see a patient with a free-standing medical condition.
I have cared for patients in various disease states, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, psychiatric illness, cancer, renal disease, and severe malnutrition. Most patients simultaneously have at least two or three of these conditions upon admission, making prioritization essential when assessing a patient.
Along the same lines, I have learned that two patients with similar illnesses are likely to have vastly different plans of care. It is essential to take an individualized approach when addressing a patient's nutrition-related needs to create more meaningful and effective interventions.
It has been a rewarding experience to participate in an interdisciplinary healthcare team, especially when we are consulted for enteral and parenteral nutrition recommendations. I feel incredibly welcomed and encouraged by the Registered Dietitians at UConn Health. They allow me to act independently yet have been there for support every time I need it. Most importantly, they have taught me the value of providing quality and compassionate nutrition care. My clinical rotation has provided me with invaluable lessons, stressing the importance of having confidence, flexibility, respect, attention to detail, emotional stability, and most importantly, empathy.