Being a clinical dietitian in the NICU

I have been thinking about writing a blog post about my job as a Registered Dietitian in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I know some people have no idea what I do on a daily basis and even some of my family may be confused. 

But to start off this explanation we need to go back to high school. I met with a Dr Fadley who was a therapist of sorts. He meets with people, has you take a test and that then determines future occupation based on your interests/skills. He told me that I could go into dietetics, but it would be tough (and it was), but I would be best suited for special education and being a teacher. I kind of blew him off and thought that was ridiculous. 

Well here looking back about 10 years later ... I think Dr Fadley spoke some truth. I have a passion for helping those that can't always help themselves. I love working with people who have faced challenges in their lives - mental, emotional or physical. I have a special place in my heart for being that care giver and helping people. Looking back I can see that displayed in many ways, but I think in my current job it helps to sums up what I do every day. I help to provide care for the littlest of babies who aren't suppose to be born yet. All of us in the neonatal world, work to help them beat the odds and have a chance at life. Being able to be part of that team, who works to give each of these babies a fighting chance is amazing. I love it! 

My specific role as the dietitian is to calculate the nutritional needs for our neonates. I work with a team of neonatologists, speech therapists, nurses and dietary technicians to make sure that our babies are getting the best recipe for feedings to meet their  unique needs.  More goes into these calculations than just crunching numbers. As the dietitian, I have to be aware of various medical conditions that could have an impact on their nutrient absorption/metabolism. This can be a complicated process if you have a baby with renal failure, a cardiac condition or a GI issue. Each of our patients, is like a puzzle that we are working on figuring out during their hospital stay. 

In addition to charting on each of these patients, I help to oversee the formula room. This is the place in our hospital where all the feedings are made by dietary technicians. We make 24 hours worth of feedings for all of our patients and we help to make sure that these techs are doing their job right. These techs are valuable part of our team and help ensure that the nutrition plan the dietitian comes up with is put into action. 

I wanted to share my job with you, because it is different. Hopefully this is a helpful little snap shot into the world of neonatology through the eyes of the dietitian. It is an amazing place to be and I enjoy being able to play a small role in so many children's lives.