I job-shadowed Marlene, a clinical dietitian at Mount Sinai Hospital. There are 11 clinical dietitians at the hospital and they are responsible for putting together the patient’s diets and maintaining their nutrition.
The first thing Marlene does every day is check her internal hospital database to see if she has any new patients assigned to her. If she does, the computer will display data that has been compiled by a diet technician, and Marlene will design a diet for the patient’s specific needs.
In the morning, Marlene goes on team rounds, which are basically meetings between doctors, nurses, social workers, speech pathologists, pharmacists, and dietitians regarding their group of patients. They go over each patient and talk about recent developments and solutions. This is done every morning and provides Marlene and the other staff the information they need to do their jobs. For example, a nurse told Marlene that a patient had trouble swallowing the food they had been given. Marlene then told the nurse what to do and adjusted the patient’s diet accordingly.
After team rounds, Marlene usually visits her patients and sees how they doing. Although she is responsible for a large group of patients with regular diets, a lot of her work is for patients with dietary concerns. When she has patients with big problems, Marlene really becomes a problem solver and teacher. She tries to solve complex problems and then has to teach a lot of patients how to maintain their nutrition plans after they leave the hospital.
I really enjoyed shadowing a dietitian since you get to solve problems and instruct patients. Plus, I also like food.
A Typical Day
Most of a typical day is spent in team rounds to consult with doctors, nurses, speech pathologists and other hospital staff regarding the team’s patients. The rest of the day is reserved for meeting and configuring a patient’s diet.
Top 3 Perks
1) Great part-time work
2) Meet lots of patients
3) You can do research too
Meeting with patients, assessing nutritional needs by using computer applications, sitting in meetings with doctors, solving complex problems, teaching patients how to eat properly, indoors, using computers.
1) Obtain a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or dietetics
2) Intern for a year
Organization, communication, research skills, problem-solving, listening skills.
- The field is female-dominated (only one dietitian out of 11 doctors at the hospital I visited was a man).
- The field is always progressing and changing due to innovative research.