A Day in the Life of a Consultant Dietitian
I just got a call from my recruiter. My current assignment is winding down since the open position I have been covering has been filled. I find out that I will begin work at a new facility in a month. This time I will be covering a maternity leave for about three months. Like any good dietitian, I love to cross things off my to-do list. Coverage at this facility? Check! Onto the next one.
Conducting clinical work can be challenging and exciting in itself, but adding the additional challenge of figuring out how to deliver the work in many different settings is something on which I thrive. My assignments have been in both acute and long term care, and each one gives me something new to learn. The adjustment period for me at a new facility is usually just a day or two, and then I feel pretty comfortable in my abilities.
What have you learned?
I work with many different patient populations, giving me a breadth of knowledge in treating any type of patient. Almost every facility has a different charting system, so I learn how to use several different online charting programs. Ordering privileges and protocols are different everywhere, and I learn how to get the job done in each scenario. At one facility, I was trained how to manage electrolytes in TPN on one assignment, which was a first for me in my career.
And sometimes, I am the one who gets to do the training. Toward the end of my assignment, I will train the newly-hired dietitian so they are up and running before I leave.
Her Advice To Other Consultant Dietitians?
For me, the best way to get to know a new facility is to jump right into work on the first day. Once I have obtained a badge and a workspace, I find out what my exact duties will be. This includes mainly nutrition assessment protocols and any meetings or rounds I am expected to attend. I also find out about any other activities I am responsible for, such as test trays or patient satisfaction surveys.
My orientation is usually brief. Sometimes I am introduced to the doctors, administrators, nurses, and the other key players in the facility; but sometimes, I just have to ask around and rely on name badges. I also try to be flexible with my work schedule based on the client’s needs.
What do you love about being a consultant dietitian?
One of the things I really love about traveling to so many different sites is the variety of people I have met. Through my position with Dietitians on Demand, I have had the opportunity to meet (and re-connect with) many different professionals, RDs and otherwise. I am finding that it is a small world, especially in the dietetics profession.
At the end of my assignment, I feel accomplished. I was able to jump into a new setting, gather my bearings, and deliver good clinical work at a facility that was in a staffing crunch. And although I was just starting to get used to the unique culture and idiosyncrasies of this facility, I am excited for the new opportunity. Another fresh beginning. I wonder if my new office will have a window… Sometimes the client makes me feel like I saved the day, saying things like “we couldn’t have done it without you!” This makes me feel good, as do the chocolate cupcakes that sometimes accompany the farewell.
If you’re considering working as a contract dietitian, check out our current openings here. We get new positions often, so it’s a great idea to bookmark this link and check back often.
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