It’s hard to believe that 6 months have come and gone, and that I’m finally finished with my internship. I guess I shouldn’t say that I’m completely done because I still have to wait for a few things to be graded before I’ve officially ‘graduated’, but the work on my end has been completed.
Last night, K and I were eating dinner and he asked me if I thought my internship was harder than I expected. I wouldn’t say that it was harder, but the work was definitely more overwhelming than I thought it would be. It definitely took up more of my time and energy than I had originally expected. Each rotation consisted of its own set of work and we were given a check sheet to keep track of everything. I basically felt like most of my time throughout the past 6 months was spent obsessing over these check sheets :)
I was also not expecting for each rotation to have its own set of challenges. In my inpatient clinical rotation, the hardest part was being unfamiliar with all things medical. I was constantly researching medical terminology, conditions, and medications. My food service rotation was so fast-paced that it was stressful trying to fit in all of my assignments and competencies. My community rotation challenged me emotionally because I saw lots of situations that just tugged at my heart strings. Completing 5 different rotations definitely kept me on my toes and I feel very proud of myself for handing on.
I completed my internship through Utah State’s distance education program. I had applied to 5 DI programs this spring but USU was listed 1st on my match list. Distance programs appealed to me for several reasons. One is that I did not want to have to move or have a super long commute, and there is not a DI program in Charlotte. Another is that I wanted the flexibility to be able to arrange my rotations however I liked. This is why USU was my top choice, as other distance DI programs still had set rotation schedules. I also thought that it would be a cool opportunity to travel somewhere different and experience something new.
Overall, I have been very pleased with my dietetic internship program. I really enjoyed our orientation in Utah and felt that it gave all of the interns a solid foundation for completing our internships. The coursework was extremely organized and I never felt lost or confused about what was expected of me. In order to complete a dietetic internship, all interns have to meet specific competencies. My past experience with interns at work has been that they have the list of competencies and the preceptor has to check them off as they go. USU made it a lot easier and built all of our competencies into our assignments. If you passed an assignment then you met whatever competencies that assignment represented. Almost all of my preceptors commented on how much easier this was for them.
I have also really enjoyed all of the great people I met through my internship program. It was such a good experience to meet 59 other interns from different walks of life who all shared the same goal. We have a group Facebook page and I enjoyed checking in with everyone from time to time. I hope we can all keep in touch with each other long after our internships are over.
Here are some things I learned throughout the past 6 months that may be useful to future interns:
- Be professional. Treat each rotation as a job interview or an opportunity for you to get your foot in the door at that organization. Do whatever is asked of you and take advantage of any opportunity you have to learn something new. Show your preceptor that you would make an excellent employee.
- Don’t get involved in work drama at your rotations. This sounds silly but it was a piece of advice that a former USU intern gave to us at orientation… and I’m so glad she did! I experienced this throughout my rotation and it made me uncomfortable. I just tried my best to stay neutral and not get involved.
- Find time to do something for yourself. An internship program can be intense but doing something you enjoy every now and then is a good way to lighten the load a little bit. For the most part, I failed miserably at this, but I know I could have been a lot happier had I made this a priority.
- Hang on. You will make it through, I promise :)
And now I’m going to get corny here for a minute…
I have learned SO much in the past 6 months. But above all else, I have learned this: if you have a dream or goal, don’t be afraid to go for it. Getting to the point where I would be eligible to complete a dietetic internship was not an easy journey for me. It took 2 years and involved moving and taking classes for 5 semesters. There were several points during this time when I felt like the mountain was too tall to climb and I just wanted to give up. I know we all feel like this at some point in our life. Don’t give up. The way I felt on Friday when I finished my last rotation made every struggle completely worth it.
Now, time to enjoy my week off and get ready for the holidays :)