What I’ve Learned So Far

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

I just wrapped up my first clinical rotation on Friday, and it felt good to clear another hurdle. I am looking forward to the day when I can just get back to working with people 1 on 1 in a private setting. I am enjoying the hospital experience, but I would choose doing what I do over that any day of the week.

Having said that, I have learned quite a bit. To be honest clinical dietetics was not a strong suit of mine. It was not something I was terribly interested in nor made an effort to learn a lot about, so this has been good for me.

While many nutrition experts bash RD’s (I am guilty in the past), it is important to keep their jobs in context. A clinical dietitian is not working with a healthy individual 99% of the time. People don’t get admitted to the hospital because they want to learn about a diet for CHF.

People get admitted to the hospital because they are sick or injured, and most of the time this makes it difficult for them to consume adequate calories and protein. Due to this fact, RD’s monitor patient’s oral intake and will encourage eating adequate protein and calories. However this is not always easy for the patient, and this is when RD’s recommend foods like Ensure or Carnation Instant Breakfast, because getting in calories and protein is essential for helping that patient to heal and recover.

Now this isn’t something I would recommend to a healthy individual, but it is all about the context. The only issue is many RD’s take their hospital mindset and apply it to the population as a whole, which I think is a mistake and where the criticism arises. But it is important to remember how much good they do and the integral role they play in patient recovery.

With that little diatribe out of the way, here is what I have learned in my first go-round. I have learned A TON about medications and medical terminology. While I have studied medical terminology in school, it is nothing like seeing it first hand. Reading doctor’s notes can be a monster of a challenge unless you are able to quickly learn acronyms and terminology.

I have also learned A TON about medications. The sheer number of meds given to patients in the hospital is staggering. Trying to learn them all, their purpose and their potential side effects and nutritional implications is no easy feat! I am still working on this one.

Lastly, I have also learned a lot about nutritional implications for people with specific diseases. For example COPD. Simple recommendations like eating small frequent meals rather than large meals, because large meals will really fill the stomach, potentially putting pressure on the diaphragm and making it even more difficult to breathe for people who already have trouble as it is. Simple, logical and something I had never thought of.

So that’s what I have learned so far! Don’t forget today is the day of Alwyn Cosgrove’s FREE webinar The Death of Personal Training. If you anyway involved in the fitness industry, whether you own your own facility or not, this webinar will provide you with the tools to drastically increase your success and profitability. It starts at 8pm EST, so don’t be late.

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Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. Cory Says:

    Do you consider Ensure Plus along with adequate meals okay for healthy people trying to gain weight. I know the sugar and some other ingredients are not the best, but it is an easy way to add calories. Thank you.

  2. Paige Says:

    Great post! I am in the fitness industry and going back to school to become an RD, and I think you are exactly right…people don’t take into consideration that what an RD is trying to accomplish in a hospital setting is completely different than what a healthy person looking for nutrition advice needs. The hospital RD should also not forget that when working with healthy individuals – or they should recommend another RD if they only do clinical work.

  3. Nick RD Says:

    Brian, I just wanted say I enjoy your blog and read if frequently. As an RD I apapplaud you for going back to school to become an RD, even though a lot of people in the fitness field put our field down. It’s nice to see the internship experience from someone elses point of view.

    In response to the question about Ensure in the clinical setting it all comes down to costs. I personally do not think Ensure (or its equivalents) are very good products, but when your food service department is working with a restricted budget you are not allowed the luxury of making “tailor made” protein shakes for patients. The cost and man hours needed for that would be through the roof, so we have to resort to what is offered to us (And unfortunately most nutritional supplement companies in the medical field don’t offer the best nutritional products, allow it is getting better.) Trust me, if I had my way, I would be making delicious smoothies for all of our patients with increased needs its just not feasible, thats where a GOOD out-patient dietitian can be worth a million bucks.

  4. fake oakley Says:

    Your blog is so nice that every one would feel pleasure to post comments. So am I. Thanks. Keep sharing the similar posts which we feel happy !

  5. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    I appreciate the kind words and I agree with your assessment and statement wholeheartedly!


  6. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    It is not the route I would choose. It is soy protein and corn syrup, so certainly not preferable. A better option would be to buy your own quality protein powder, mix it with some fruit, oats, and peanut butter/nuts in water, whole milk, or almond/hemp milk to make a delicious smoothie that is much more nutrient dense, lower in sugar, higher in fiber, etc.


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