Why am I posting this picture of a rock?  It looks like something ordinary that you would fine on the ground and pay no attention at all.  However, this rock represents a few things to me. It was given to me by a resident in the long term care facility that I have been interning at for the past few weeks. I passed this gentlemen pacing through the halls, said hello, and was given this rock in return. It might not have meant anything to the resident, but it meant something to me.

This rock is representative of my experience at this community that I was fortunate enough to work in.  While I did gain practical skills to apply in my future practice as a registered dietitian, these skills are not the most significant knowledge that I acquired.  So often in the medical field, we look at charts. We look at diagnoses, lab values, past medical history, medication lists, objective information. Black and white. It is simple until you understand that this information is not black and white; it is an individual’s life. They are someone’s mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, friend. Patient care should be individualized; dependent on each person’s needs and desires. So many times I looked at a resident’s chart, made my nutritional assessment and diagnosis, went to talk to the resident, and found out so much other vital information. Not only this, but I also learned a thing or two about empathy.  Many of the residents will live in the facility for the rest of their lives.  They were not living in my workplace; I truly was working in their home.  This put things into perspective about the way residents (as well as patients in an acute setting, even) should be treated.

Although I do consider myself a relatively compassionate and empathetic person, I believe a person cannot be this way until fully immersed in such a setting that allows these characteristics to flourish.  And so I hope that my experience and skills continue to grow with the same manner that it has grown during my long term care rotation. I hope that patient care strives to be a little bit more like this rock: unmoving, individualistic, and out of compassion.

Onto the next-I can’t wait to experience life as an acute care dietitian at the OSU Wexner Medical Center in a few short weeks!