Department of State Hospitals-Atascadero

Dietetic Intern

January - October 2019 • Atascadero, CA

What I liked

I enjoyed learning about the unique challenges in practicing nutrition and dietetics with the population dealing with psychiatric illness. I enjoyed the variety of community opportunities made available by this internship such as working with the Food Bank of San Luis Obispo County, Public Health of Santa Barbara County, and Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County. I also feel fortunate to have been able to shadow a local private practice dietitian for two weeks. I enjoyed learning about the operations of the industrial kitchen tasked with feeding 1200 patients three meals per day, and the unique aspects of scheduling and managing production and presentation. Learning nutrition and dietetics in a psychiatric hospital was a unique and fulfilling experience I would recommend to any prospective intern that desires a challenge and rewarding opportunity.

What I wish was different

I have difficulty answering this question. This was a rich experience. One thing I wish would have been different was the community hospital acute care clinical dietetics experience. I would have liked more time to learn application of ADIME in electronic health records and engage with the patient population in acute care.


Validate your preceptors in the internship you get into. "Thank you for taking extra time from your normal duties. I know it's a lot, but I really appreciate it." Really let them know how much you appreciate their time and attention to share years of experience. Validate your fellow interns/peers pointing out the strengths you notice in them, and/or changes you've noticed in them that they themselves might not be aware of. Specific to a psychiatric facility, rely on the expertise of the veteran staff to guide you in ways to practice safely in a patient population that is known to be volatile or dangerous. Watch and learn from staff who conduct themselves in a professional manner and treat patients with dignity and respect. Once you're into an internship, just hold on and enjoy the ride!
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