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Day In the Life of a Student Dietitian (and blogger) on Hospital Placement

May 6, 2018 | Being a dietitian, Dietetics, Lifestyle | 2 comments

Hospital Placement

It seems like you guys are really interested in my dietetics studies, and in particular, my hospital placement, which I love. For confidentiality reasons, I obviously can’t share too much of what’s going on in the hospital, but I thought it could be fun to share a ‘day in the life’ style post. I feel like these months have been some of my busiest ever but I have loved it. (Tom on the other hand is going crazy because of the mess/laundry/tuperware situation)

As a little bit of background, as part of a dietetics degree here in the UK, you must undertake 3 placements, the first is 2 weeks, second is 12 weeks and the final one is 14 weeks. It’s slightly different if you do a post-graduate but you spend a similar amount time in a hospital or community setting.

This is my placement 2 – I’ve spent the last 11 weeks in a London hospital.

5am – alarm goes off.

My friend and photographer Anna stayed over last night so that we could shoot a collaboration project super early in Henley. Unfortunately half of the products that we were meant to be shooting haven’t arrived, which is frustrating as it means we’ll have to shoot again, but it does at least mean the morning is very stress free.

6am – 7.20 am – shooting along the Thames 

7.36 – jump on the train from Henley to Paddington

When we moved to Henley they had direct trains in the morning and evening, annoyingly these have now all been cancelled so I have to change at Twyford. Its literally a mad dash into the coffee shop there to grab a coffee for the second leg of the train. They now know my order!

8.22am – arrive at Paddington and quickly walk to work

8.30am – at my desk

I typically spend the first couple of hours reviewing which patients I need to see that day. I’ll go through the medical entries,  making notes of anything that has changed since I last saw them, or going through their medical history if they’re a new patient. I like to review/read up on 2-3 patients, until about 11am, then go up to the wards to speak to the patients, nurses, medical team and sometimes, the patient’s family.

Our job is to assess the patient’s nutritional needs, which as a hospital inpatient are usually higher than normal. We can then support a patient to meet their needs through enteral feeding (a tube into their stomach through their nose or directly into their tummy), through oral nutrition supplements or through with fortified foods.

student dietetics placement

11am – on the wards 

I spent some time on the Intensive Care and Trauma wards, and thought I’d find them really tough – and they were, but in a good way. I actually loved feeling so necessary for patient recovery, most of the patients were being tube fed. On intensive care, they are so catabolic that they often lose so much weight – more than I was prepared for.

This week I’ve had the opportunity to follow some patients that I saw on ICU/Trauma on the normal wards, which has been great seeing the so much improved, and putting on weight!

12.15 – back at my desk 

We have protected mealtimes on the ward, so I’ll try to leave the wards around 12/12.15 so that I don’t interfere with the patients meals. However, it can be good to have a snoop at what they’ve ordered, and how much they’re really eating. Often, with patients we don’t think are eating much/anything, I’ll make a point to go to the ward as the plates are being cleared so that I can get an idea of what they have/haven’t eaten.

Usually I’ll eat lunch at my desk between 12.30-1pm. We don’t really get a proper lunch break as such, so I’ll either eat something I’ve brought from home or nip out to get a soup or salad. I’ve also got back into a bad habit these past few weeks of buying a Diet Coke too.

1pm – desk duty 

I’ll usually spend this time writing up the rest of my notes to include anything I’ve spoken to the doctors about, noticed when speaking to the patient or been updated from another team. I’ve got my own patients, but am still being supervised, so I’ll run through all of my thoughts/aims/plans with my supervisor before sending her my updated notes for the online hospital system.

3pm – back up to the wards

Often I’m back up on the wards, checking in on another patient, following up anything I missed in the morning, or notifying doctors/nurses/patients of the plans we’re putting in place – e.g. a feeding tube, oral supplements, fortified foods etc.

4pm – documentation 

Finish typing up any notes and sending them for approval and uploading. I’ve become so much more confident (and efficient) in writing up patient documentation, as well as interacting with all the members of the multidisciplinary teams.

4.30pm – leave hospital

There’s a great attitude of leaving on time at the hospital and mostly the hours are quite flexible, with people doing 8am-4pm, 8.30-4.30pm and 9am-5pm. We usually just stick to whichever hours our supervisors for that week work. I love the early starts, early finishes.

As I’m leaving the office, I receive a phonecall from a marketing manager for an events company (although it’s in my diary for tomorrow so I’m caught a little off guard). We chat for about 20 mins as I walk to the station before I jump on the tube for a face to face meeting with a PR company.

5pm – PR meeting 

I love collaborating with brands that I think really align with my blog and that I think you guys will love. I’m really hoping the project we were discussing gets signed off as I know it will be super helpful for you (and me!) and working with a brand means that I can share it with you guys for free. Fingers and toes crossed!

6pm – travel 

Make my apologies and race to the tube station to head to south London. I’m part of a group run with Run Mates that starts in Brockwell Park at 6.45 so I’m cutting it a little fine. Luckily, for once, the tubes and buses align and I make it with a minute to spare.

Hospital Placement

6.45-8.30pm group run then pub 

We had a lovely sunny run around Brockwell Park before decanting to the pub opposite. It was our chance to test out the app, speak to the founder and make suggestions for improvements that we’d like to see. I really liked catching up with some old running/instagram friends and making new ones.

8.45pm – start the long journey home… 

The worst thing about living outside of London is that even when you leave ‘early’ I still don’t get home for ages. I made it home just after 11pm. Laid out my clothes for the next day…and did it all over again.


  1. Lindsay

    Wow! You have quite the long days! Do you struggle with exhaustion with days that are so long? Also can you see yourself working in the hospital setting in the future? I find it interesting how UK colleges approach placements … my cousin is in school for nursing and has a number of different placements and in the US placements aren’t are long or nearly as often as the schools in the UK require.

  2. Cari

    Really interesting, thanks for sharing. What do protected mealtimes mean, if that’s something you can share. Not sure if that’s medical jargon or UK/US English lost in translation. Am impressed with your stamina for th elong days


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