Diary of a Student Nutritionist - Week 9 - Student Clinic Day

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Another clinic day, they are always very intense days but very interesting! In today's post, I tell you what it is like to experience a student clinic day from start to finish and what it is like to observe a fellow student who is taking a case history and making them a plan.

Clinic days start at 9.30 am so that we are all ready to see the client by 10 am. We can put our initials on the whiteboard under a free slot if we would like to go into one of the rooms to observe. If we are not observing from inside the room then we are sat in the classroom. We take out our paperwork and get ourselves ready for the supervisor to put a live-streamed video up on the screen from one of the clinic rooms.

We then spend one hour watching one of the students from our class taking the initial case, asking the client lots of questions. While this would be horrendous if we are the ones up on the screen ourselves, for everyone watching it is a really useful tool for study. As the session is in progress we are filling the paperwork as if it was our own client but we are also watching how other students are taking the case. You get to learn some really interesting techniques or ways to approach it that you might not have thought of. You can also see what questions work well, what tone works well, what body language works well, etc.

Then the client leaves the room and goes to have a cup of tea in the waiting area while the student in the room busily begins the next stage of all the paperwork. In the classroom, we then either try to complete the paperwork and plan as if we were in the room ourselves. This is good practice for time pressure and plan creation, or we have a discussion as a class or with students around us about what we think is going on and what we would do. Both are really useful as it is good to practice in paperwork and timing but also really interesting to talk to other students about what they would do, this further broadens your thinking beyond what you may have assumed.

Then the client returns to the clinic room and the sound is put back on for us to watch. The student then explains to the client the plan they have come up with for them and why. This is really interesting as you can then see where your plan or class discussions match up or where they came up with something better, the same or not as good as your ideas.

We then have 30-45 minutes for lunch before the afternoon begins and we see two more clients back to back taking us through to 6 pm. After investing a lot into the morning client, even when you are in the classroom it gets tougher and tougher until you come out at the end of the day pretty burnt out. It is a shame it is so intense as it is so interesting to listen to clients stories, see how they respond to the student's plan and cheer our fellow colleagues on.

When you do go in and observe it is very tense as you really want them to do well and be there to support them as much as you can. Really you just need to sit there and be quiet for the majority of the time but during the middle bit, you might get assigned a job to do i.e. finding a suitable supplement, meal ideas, handouts, etc. What I found hard is that there was not enough time to give the student a few options, you had to make the decision for what you thought was best and what the student might think is best and go with it. Which felt like a lot of responsibility. You also had 30 seconds max to hand it over and tell them why which is a lot of pressure. It is a shame that the live camera goes off for this bit as it would have been really interesting to see how each student works during this bit but equally it will be nice when I am in the hot seat to not be watched through this bit.

Overall, clinic days are great as they really help develop your skills ready for when you qualify and make you a better practitioner. In two weeks time, I am seeing my first client as long as all goes well and be in the hot seat so I can tell you all about how it feels to really be a student nutritionist!

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