Really rather helpful pointers before starting a dietetics placement

I’m currently in the middle of my third (and final) placement of my Nutrition and Dietetics degree, and to be honest, I’m finding it pretty challenging! Having spent the whole of my previous placement in the community, an 11-week placement in a hospital is quite a change!

I thought I’d compile a selection of tips from my fellow dietetics students for anybody who will be embarking on a clinical placement soon, or anyone who might be interested in studying dietetics.

Dietetics placements are a fantastic chance to experience a variety of clinical settings and they can help you work out which aspects you love or excel at, and those which maybe need some more work, or those areas that you aren’t so keen on. As a student you also have the opportunity to work with, shadow and learn from dietitians who are passionate about a vast array of dietetic specialities.

Apologies for those of my readers who are not studying dietetics, maybe this one isn’t for you, although you might find it an interesting insight into the world of student dietitians!

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‘Chill out, be nice, and do what your supervising dietitians recommend…even if it seems as though they may be contradicting themselves’ – Sarah, @louisetru

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‘It’s really helpful to carry around the essentials like the Bristol stool chart and a copy of the Eatwell Plate’ – Rachel, @raachwatt

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‘If you’re struggling with something, be it the work or something else, tell someone because it’s not always obvious to your supervisors’ – Olly, @ollyjhoward

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‘Buy a little address book to record medications, disease, and other bits and bobs that you can’t remember’ – Sarah

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‘Make sure you take your 30-minute lunch break – often this isn’t made obvious by your supervisors but is essential for your sanity & wellbeing’ – Harriet, @harriet_rose94

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‘Keep a calculator in your PENG & have some little sticky notes to mark the important pages that you use regularly, like the Requirements section’ – Esther, @esther.lauren

‘I have coloured mini post-its for sections that I’m always using like height & weight conversions, energy calculations, energy and protein in commonly eaten foods’ – Alice, @alicewright96

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‘You’ll probably be with Band 6 and & 7 dietitians which provides a great learning opportunity but remember that you aren’t graduating as a specialist dietitian, so you don’t need to stress out about not knowing the specialist things!’ – Minnie, @minnie_brandt

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‘Think about printing out copies of the menu, snack list and (if available) their nutritional content so that you can talk through them all confidently with a patient’ – Rachel

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‘Have a look through PENG before starting placement so that you’re familiar with what information is including such as guidelines for re-feeding syndrome, considerations in renal disease etc.’ – Alice

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‘Think about buying yourself a multi-pocket folder to store copies of useful diet sheets that you can hand out to patients on things like food fortification’ – Jess

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‘Create a ready-reckoner for feeds and oral nutritional supplements available at the hospital in your first couple of weeks to keep in your PENG for a quick reference’ – Bex, @bex_tux

‘Carbs and cals book may be a good investment for you to use in clinics (or see if your department has one you can use) to help get an accurate picture of what people are eating’ – Minnie 

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‘If you’re seeing the same patient frequently think about creating a ready reckoner for their particular foods – I saw a patient every week on placement 2 who mostly ate coco pops, alphabet potato bites and chocolate freddos, so I made a little ready reckoner of the energy and protein content of those foods which made the next weeks much easier!’ – Rachel

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‘Give everything a go and take your time – once you’ve graduated you’ll never have this much time to spend on a patient or seeing challenging cases with such intense supervision so make the most of it!’ – Minnie

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‘You may find that different supervisors do things such as note writing differently – it’s important to remember that there isn’t just one correct way of doing things, so go with what works best for you. It could be even better if you’re able to merge the advice from all your supervisors into one really good note writing format that ticks all of the boxes!’ – Rachel

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I hope this is helpful. As always, take care x

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