Today is my very last day of my internship with UAB Weight Loss Medicine. It feels as if I have just started this job, but the time has flown by so quickly, I really can’t believe I am already finished. This has been one of the most amazing and wonderful opportunities and experiences I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. Looking back on my first day, first week or so even, I was very unsure and nervous about the whole thing. I wasn’t sure if I had the knowledge or confidence needed in myself to be thrown into this field and most of that was due to this being my first rotation and not knowing what to expect. Now that I have completed a full month working alongside registered dietitians, physicians, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants, I can proudly say that the nervousness and lack of confidence I had in the beginning, is not there anymore. I have grown so much and have learned so much more than I ever have in my college courses. I don’t mean that to sound bad towards my professors or anything, but there are just some things you cannot learn behind a desk. There are numerous things you learn when you are actually thrust into the work environment and are experiencing every little thing first hand.
I was truly blessed to be able to complete my internship at UAB and be surrounded by such a fun and awesome group of people to work with every single day. I was paired with the best preceptor to work under in my opinion. She really pushed me to go beyond my limits and really see all that I could accomplish when I took more initiative in my work and accepted more leadership roles. She gave me projects to work on throughout my time here that helped expand my knowledge and learning not only about the services and programs UAB offered, but also about nutrition and healthy living in general. My preceptor had so much confidence in me and was always very encouraging about the time and effort I put into completing each and every project thrown at me and I truly believe that helped me build the confidence in myself I needed. Remember when I said that she had asked me at one point to go in with a patient and collect their dietary recall all by myself, but didn’t do it? Well, I can now say that I have gone in with a patient and talked with them and collected information about their typical eating schedule all by myself. Not only that, but I have also conducted a resting metabolic rate test on a patient without assistance. On both occasions, everything went perfectly fine. The ones that were there to supervise me only gave me positive feedback and thought that I asked all the right questions and collected all the accurate information I was supposed to receive from the patients. I have seen so many different people go in and out through the various programs offered, I have participated in the weekly group nutrition educational classes, staffed a health fair table a couple of times, created meal plans that will be used as examples during the dietitian meetings with the patients, and conducted a presentation on sports nutrition. I have done so much more than I ever thought I would do in my short time here, but I am thankful for each and every one of those learning experiences because they’ve instilled in me the confidence I have about this field and my future career.
While I can’t say that I am sad to not be doing the hour drive to Birmingham from Tuscaloosa every day or dealing with the crazy Birmingham traffic, I am sad to be leaving everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I am also sad that I will not continue to see these patients progress through their weight loss program. Each patient I have seen and observed all have different stories and backgrounds and it has been so interesting and rewarding to be a part of the journey with them. I hope they all continue to do well and will reach their weight loss goals. This job by no means has been a boring one. Yes, I have had a lot of down time, but I am only an intern and there’s still a very limited amount of work I am allowed to do. But like I said, each patient is very different and the plan we present to one patient will certainly not be the same for the next one, even if we put them on the same calorie level plan. Each patient has their own struggles to deal with that we have to work with and work around to make sure they will be as successful as possible on the program. Now that my internship is complete, I cannot wait to be doing this fulltime as my career. Only two semesters stand between me and making that happen and I feel more ready than ever.