Diary of a Student Nutritionist: Week 6 & 7 - Student Clinic Days

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

I cannot believe our final year clinics have now begun! Last year we watched our lecturers (qualified nutritionists) seeing clients via a live feed into our classrooms. This year the roles have reversed and students are seeing the clients and being live-streamed into the classroom!

This blog post is late as the nerves of having to sit in the nutritionist seat in a few weeks time is starting to get to me a bit. Having taken the year out between years 2 and 3 this means that I feel I may have forgotten quite a bit, plus getting back into how the paperwork needs to be filled in and all the questions you need to ask feels like it is only just coming back to me.

In many ways I feel ready, if I was to leave my course now and had to set up my own clinic I feel I could do it. However, in order to become qualified, I need to see three clients and get 100% on two of them. You can be failed for going over or under time, needing too much assistance, saying the wrong thing, forgetting to fill in a section of the paperwork or filling it in incorrectly, recommending something that isn't suitable or relevant.....and so on. You get told most people will fail the first one.....I don't like the idea of walking into that.

Society tells us failing is bad and you are therefore not good enough if you do. As a class I think we are going to have to get our heads around the fact that while we can be even 95% there, we need to work on something extra to make us 100%. This is going to take a bit of self-coaching for me and something I am quite worried about as I know it would be quite painful to be told I had failed, but it is a good life skill, especially as it doesn't mean I will fail the course or will never be a nutritionist, it just means have a practice and try again.

One thing that I didn't expect is just how different each students client recommendations would be, you can have 35 people all with very different plans. While some people are not quite on the right lines, most people are and when each one explains why it really opens your eyes. For example, a client with stress and bloating: one client would work on stress to support bloating, another would work on bloating as it is causing them stress, another would work on the gut microbiome, someone else would support work/life balance, another general underlying nutrition levels.......etc. Not one of them is wrong, it is just a different way of looking at things or a different order.

Another example is do you support the underlying cause or the symptoms first? If you support the underlying cause the client might be disappointed as they are asking for support with the symptoms here and now, or do you support their symptoms initially and then get to the underlying cause when they are more comfortable? The answer is usually that you would do both of these but it is not always clear cut and different students will do things differently.

Over the last two weeks, I have been able to sit in with a client and student nutritionist as an observer and assistant for an initial and follow-up consultation. The follow-up session was so uplifting as the client had made great progress from following the student's recommendations over 6 weeks. But it made me realise just how little time you had for the second session to be able to ask questions and come up with a plan, but having seen qualified nutritionists myself I know this certainly gets a lot easier. The initial consultation that I watched gave me lots of ideas for things I would want to ask my own assistants to do, as well as getting an idea of how the room feels.

I am at the moment trying to stay calm with lots of ashwagandha (relaxation herb), positive self-talk and distraction. I feel I should really do some more practice sessions but I am holding off as I worry they will make me feel more worried for the time being. But I do have another clinic day (before I see my client) to sit and fill in the paperwork like they are mine, in time and effectively.

....we will see!

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