Dietetics practicum: thank you journalism

Dietetics practicum update: five months down, five months to go.

I am halfway, my friends; halfway to my dream of becoming a dietitian, for active people with T1D, coming to fruition.

So far I’ve completed placements in stroke/rehab, general medicine, GI-Surgery, IV nutrition support (TPN) and, of course, sport.

Unlike sport, my other placements have all been centred on acute medicine.

I’ve worked with patients who have inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, mental health conditions, acute kidney injury, pancreatitis, diabetes, heart failure.

I’ve worked with patients post bowel surgery, advocating their nutrition needs, ensuring they were getting solid foods immediately post op to best their recovery.

I’ve optimized nutrition needs with tube feeds and aggressive intravenous nutrition support.

I’ve talked with several patients who didn’t have homes and didn’t know where they’d get their next meal outside of hospital.

It’s been a crazy, strong heart tug; there is no doubt.

It’s also been quite fascinating.

I don’t have an hour to converse with these patients; I don’t even have a half hour.

I have minutes, maybe 5, if that.

I need to work quick.

I need to work efficiently.

I need to work thoroughly.

And I need to do all that with heaps of empathy.

And you know what, I’m killing it.

Thank you journalism.

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 5.46.13 PM
One of the only pictures I got of me reporting was when I was VERY pregnant – but hey, diabetes represent 😀

Over the course of the last five months I’ve discovered just how effective my journalism skills are in this next profession of mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I always knew they’d be an asset, but to what degree I wasn’t entirely sure.

So folks, let me count the ways:

I’ve got no issues chatting up all walks of life.

I can make most feel at ease in my presence, which is interesting because generally outside of the work life I’m awkward as hell (was with journalism too).

I ask questions like no one’s business.

If I don’t get an answer right away, I keep asking, I reword the questions, I clarify and repeat, pretty much I’m like a three-year-old finding all the ways of why – solely with the purpose of getting an answer.

Thank you journalism.

I love a good story and all these people have stories.

I may not be targeting the stories that I would have had I still been reporting for the news, but their health and the backstory of their health is a story just the same.

I am curious by nature and that curiosity allows me to dive into these lives and get the information we need to help optimize their nutrition status – in no time.

Just like I did with journalism.

When I went out for interviews, rarely did they last longer than 30 minutes. When I conducted phone interviews, especially with politicians and communication specialists, the interviews lasted maybe 10-15 minutes, oftentimes less.

Getting answers with efficiency is a skill highly valued in the hospital environment.

Thank you journalism.

I’m not saying it’s all been bright sunshiny dandelions (which I love by the way). It’s been more akin to a rollercoaster. I have intense highs and crazy lows. Sometimes I feel like a rockstar, but many times I’m filled with so much self doubt and uncertainty.

That is the nature of internship.

I’m constantly being watched and assessed and essentially graded with every move I make, which creates it’s own set of challenges.

I’m not as natural as I’d likely be if it were just me and the patient.

I’ve caught myself interacting with patients in a way I believe will get me the best points with the preceptor, but not necessarily in a way that is most beneficial (re: understable) to the patient.

I’ve caught myself using scientific terminology and healthcare jargon with patients only to get bug-eyed confusion back in return.

And this is again where my journalism skill NEEDS to come to the forefront.

One of the first lessons you learn in J-school is to dumb it down.

As a journalist, I interviewed all sorts of people, some who were ramblers, others who were practically Einstein’s offspring. I covered an assortment of topics, some that were super fun, others that had tons of confusing detail associated. With every story I produced, no matter the subject or the interviewee, I had to write it in a way that all readers, young, old, educated, less educated, would understand.

That’s what I need to do for my patients too.

Thank you journalism.

For the next two weeks I’ll be working in ICU and then I head into outpatient care with a three-week placement in diabetes.

Eeeeeeeee 😀 😀 😀

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