Placement: What’s it like?

First of all, apologies for being MIA. Placement and work have been absolutely crazy and exhausting and unfortunately writing this post got pushed back multiple times.

However, I thought I’d give you a little insight into what a typical day is like for me on my first clinical placement at a paediatric (kids) hospital!

A Day in the Life

8 am: Get to the hospital, print off patient lists, read notes for patients you plan to review or see that day, check for any referrals for nutrition screenings (these referrals are generated when weekly questionnaires are completed by nurses relating to weight, appetite and eating).

8:30 am: Touch base with your supervisor and work out the plan for the day. Usually, I go off on my own to do the feeding lists for the wards. I pick up the lists from the Formula Room (a place that makes all the formula for the bubs and bigger people in a VERY sterile environment). I go onto the wards and check with the nurse if the feeds need changing, and then back to the Formula Room so that the patients can get their feeds for the day!

9/9:30/10 (depends on how hard it is to find the nurse): Preparing for a patient assessment or review. This includes reviewing the patient’s notes, talking to doctors, nurses or other staff if need be and briefing with my supervisor before seeing the patient. After each patient, my supervisor tells me what I need to work on for next time. This process means I’m (hopefully) improving with each patient I see!

This could also be a time to prepare and/or present a small group education.

REPEAT x 2-3


11-11:30: back to the department for a drink and morning tea before seeing outpatients! Or more inpatients! Outpatients are typically children who aren’t growing well (this is called Failure to Thrive) or those who are overweight for their age or need to grow into their height.

1pm-1:30pm: Lunch time

1:30 pm: If there are more patients to see, we go back up to the wards. If not, it’s time to document all these patients’ notes (this usually takes a good few hours at the moment). This is also the time when we work out tube feeding plans and make our nutritional diagnoses for the patients we’ve seen that day.

Pro tip: never get behind on doing your patient’s notes! It’s a dark vortex of never-ending notes and being reviewed by your supervisor until you get the hang of things.

5 pm: Home time!

In between all of this, pages come through to see patients urgently. Speaking with doctors for tube feeding or other concerns for the patients. Chatting to the diet office for different menus and feeds for patients. Calling patients who were discharged before we got to see them for review. I may attend Journal Club or lunchtime lectures. The point is there’s always something on!


What types of patient’s have I seen so far?

  • Burns
  • Oncology  – mostly Leukaemia
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Overweight/obese
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Nutrition Support – either through supplements or tube feeding
  • Adolescents
  • Psychiatry
  • Feeding difficulties – from trouble with swallowing to fussy eating
  • And I’m sure a lot more to come

The Biggest Learning Curve

Being on placement has made me much more appreciative for the good health of my family and friends after witnessing how much of a struggle these families go through with their sick children. It’s definitely a privilege to be able to be a tiny part of their road to recovery or long-term management.

Sick Child

Another key thing I’ve learned is looking beyond just the medical and nutritional issues and understanding the social history of these patients and their family can really help you to understand and help them in a far more effective way.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nofar Almog says:

    Hi! Great post. I’m about to go back to school to become an RD so I love reading other students’ experiences. Do you find that the nutrition recommendations differ greatly between patients or is everyone pretty much the same? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stefanie says:

      Hi! Thanks for the love. Things can appear to be quite similar. So for example, I can be doing lots of high energy high protein type educations in a day. But one is for a burns patient who really likes his meat. And another can be for a jaw wiring patient that needs a puree diet and HATES milkshakes or any dairy drinks! Other times it is highly customised, feeds are specialised and made to very special concentrations to meet requirements. It all just depends! There is a lot of variety. So I guess no the recommendations aren’t the same!


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