A Day in the Life: Kathryn Lynch, RDN, LD at the Cleveland Clinic Dietetic Internship Program

  • Kathryn LynchKathryn Lynch, RDN, LD, graduated summa cum laude from IUP with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2016.

    5:30 a.m.

    It is an early start for Kathryn as she packs her lunch and gets ready for her 10-hour day at the Cleveland Clinic. Life as a dietetic intern is fast paced and a constant learning experience as she makes her way through various specialty rotations. Today, she is working with clinicians in the Center for Gut Rehabilitation and Transplant known as CGRT (pronounced C-Gert). 

    6:45 a.m.

    After a 10-minute walk from the massive hospital parking lot, Kathryn enters the hospital during a shift change. The second that the automatic glass doors open, she walks into a flurry of colored scrubs. Nurses in white scrubs are getting off their night shifts. Some of them are still wrapping up conversations with incoming nurses to relay updates on patients. Everyone has a place to be, and it is easy to identify other hospital employees: respiratory therapists are wearing navy blue scrubs, physical therapists are wearing black, and nursing assistants are dressed in dark green. Kathryn wears her white lab jacket pictured above. 

    7:00 a.m.

    Patient charts are waiting! Kathryn is usually the first person in her office to arrive. She flips on the lights, makes a pot of coffee for her colleagues, and takes a seat at her desk carrel to start updating patient charts. Charting is a huge part of Kathryn’s day, and it takes her most of the morning. Her hospital uses a popular medical charting software named Epic to streamline her patient note-taking process. Epic is a hospital-wide charting system that Cleveland Clinic RDs were able to customize for their own purposes; it is easy for Kathryn to select patient symptoms and concerns from a drop-down menu. 

    9:00 a.m.

    Kathryn takes a break from charting, which takes anywhere from six to seven hours of her day. She closes the charting system on her computer and switches over to an electronic research management system called REDCap to help contribute to her supervisor’s research project. Kathryn sifts though data for the study to assist in finding relative information about diagnosing malnutrition. Her supervisor will present the study at the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) annual conference and later submit it for formal publication in a medical journal. 

    She continues to sift through data to locate trends and deletes data that has been inaccurately flagged by the research system. Her research projects at IUP have prepared her for working on hospital research, so she feels confident as she searches for related literature on EBSCO host and cleans up data in the electronic research system. Kathryn is constantly learning new things about the research proposal process at her hospital from her supervisor, and she enjoys editing and working on the formal research proposal throughout her workday. When she finds a relevant study in her literature review search, she spends some time writing an annotation of the key findings by explaining its relevance to the research proposal. 

    10:30 a.m.

    A walk upstairs to the transplant unit is the most exciting part of Kathryn’s day. She eagerly greets doctors and her patients, who are usually in the intensive care unit. Most of her patients are recuperating from high-risk gut transplant surgeries and are in need of dietetic care. Kathryn helps patients with severe Crohn’s disease or colitis. 

    Today, one of her favorite patients is in town with a camera crew. The crew is documenting one of Kathryn’s patients, as he is one of the youngest small and large intestine transplant patients in US history. Kathryn’s main goal is to help keep track of her patient’s long-term care, as all CGRT patients will remain a Cleveland Clinic patient for life. 

    Kathryn says hello to Dr. Abu-Elmagd in her patients’ room. After chitchatting about their families and their weekend, they begin a discussion with the patient about how the treatment plan is going. Every time Kathryn sees Dr. Abu-Elmagd, she is very careful to listen for his advice and takes note of the way he successfully engages with patients—always putting personal interaction with patients first before medicine. Dr. Abu-Elmagd is well known in the medical field for his substantial role in patient transplant recovery by establishing the use of the immunosuppressant drug Prograf in transplant medicine. 

    12:30 p.m.

    Kathryn’s 10 other colleagues, who are also dietetic interns, are not all in the hospital intern office at the same times of the day. She has to make a conscious effort to try and have lunch with her peers and supervisor. Most dietetic interns bring their lunch to work everyday, but Kathryn makes her best efforts to abstain from eating in front of her computer and heads to the hospital cafeteria to network with colleagues and other hospital personnel. 

    1:00 p.m.

    Another one of Kathryn’s patients arrives, and she conducts a follow-up consultation. She discusses an evidence-based diet regimen to help soothe the current gastrointestinal discomfort her patient is feeling. 

    3:00 p.m.

    Kathryn completes more patient charting and begins to review her patient notes for the day. 

    3:30 p.m.

    A daily debrief with Kathryn’s preceptor happens before she clocks out for the day. They sit down together and review patient charts. The meeting usually lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. The debriefing and constructive feedback that goes on during the meeting is one of the most important parts of Kathryn’s day as a health professional. 

    4:00 p.m.

    Kathryn heads home exhausted from a long day filled with charting, research, and patient consultations. On her drive home, she reflects on her workday and imagines her exciting future. Her mother has been a registered nurse at a hospital for 26 years, and Kathryn hopes to carry on her mother’s legacy by continuing to work in a hospital setting following her internship. 

    Written by Marie Webb, graduate assistant
    Edited by Sherita Jamison, graduate assistant