The university is starting to get us ready to go out into the real world on our second clinical placements. The first placement was two years ago, and you may remember that I was sent to Rotherham. I didn't like it much.
That placement was a taster, for just four weeks (and last year's students only did two weeks). It was mainly intended to weed out those students who decided, having seen what is involved, that they don't really want to be dietitians after all. It gave the rest of us an idea of how a particular dietetic department works, what the workload looks like, what sort of activities are undertaken in hospitals and in the community, and who dietitians work with. At that time, we didn't know much about anything so we were just observing, and it didn't involve patient contact beyond talking to them a bit about what they thought of the hospital food.
The next placement will be twelve weeks rather than four, and I won't be in Rotherham. Now that we have done three out of four years of academic study we know a lot more about actual dietetics than we did then, and will be expected to carry out clinical duties, albeit fully supervised, and only to the extent of our abilities. By the end of the summer we will be conducting consultations with patients and groups who don't have complex needs, we have to compile and present a case study and do at least two presentations to the department. And a whole lot more. It's an assessed exercise: I have to pass the placement, otherwise I can't continue on to the fourth year of the Masters. If I miss a week through illness or whatever, I may have to carry on for an extra week at the end.
We will also have a proper nominated supervisor from the dietetic department, and a placement tutor from the university too. I will be meeting mine as soon as I can make the arrangements, and hand over the copious paperwork that accompanies this exercise. I have to identify what I'm good and bad at, and we'll have a chance to discuss expectations and any anticipated problems. The university has already decided to issue us with a uniform, which means there definitely won't be a repeat of my previous 'dress code' problems.
I have to admit, though, that the Rotherham experience has left me with a few uncertainties, and a little lacking in confidence. There were more issues from my A placement than just the dress, and I have mentioned a few before. It is difficult to know how to deal with the feedback that my communication with that team was too 'challenging'. Do I come over as too 'challenging' when I communicate with other people? Is this important, and if so, how do I address it? I'm hoping that my tutor will give me some objective advice, given that it's someone who knows me a little bit from the last three years.
There is one other issue that I haven't yet come to terms with, and that is blogging. It is obviously extremely important that patient confidentiality is maintained, but I imagine that there will be interesting and educational situations that I would like to blog about. Even if patient names are not used, and I'm not planning to mention the location of my placement, it may not be wise to write about real people. Breaching patient confidentiality is a serious disciplinary offence, and I'd be foolish to jeopardise everything I've worked towards for so long.
Anyway, that's for a future time. I've still got exams to look forward to, and I'd better get on.