Tips for Surviving Your First Day of Clinicals

Welcome back to school, new and returning students of D’Youville! I hope most of you got to enjoy your summer with sunbathing, vacationing, and making extra money. Others of you may have been hard at work all of the way through, spending the majority of your summer in summer internships, gross anatomy labs, or studying and listening to full days of relentless lecturing.

D'Youville nursing students standing outside of ECMC

D’Youville College is affiliated with more than 50 supervised practice sites including teaching hospitals like Erie County Medical Center.

My Summer & The Start of Clinicals
This year I was one of the lucky few who got to stay in school all summer. On the bright side, I can now officially say I am a part of the Coordinated Dietetics Program at D’Youville College. This basically means while I continue to do my studies, I begin internships, also known as clinicals, which are part of the educational requirements for becoming a Registered Dietitian (RD). I will also start my graduate thesis work!

The great thing about the dietetics program at D’Youville is I will graduate with a combined BS/MS in dietetics after only five [gruesome but fun] years of college! The accelerated program may be intense but it will be worth it in the end, (at least that is what I tell myself now).

Fast Track Degrees at DYC
There are other fast track degrees at D’Youville College where you can graduate with combined degrees including Education, Occupational Therapy, International Business, and the Physician Assistant programs. To see a full list of these combined degrees check out this website.

Now after completing the first nine weeks of my clinical internships, I have created a list of four things I have learned since the first day I began my rotations. This list is constantly evolving, but I hope it provides you with some insight into “wisdom” that can only be found through experience.

4 [Unknown] Tips to Surviving Your First Day of Clinicals

  1. Always leave enough driving time to make it to your internships site on time. A good rule of thumb is to plan on being at least fifteen minutes early to factor in any road delay, forgotten lab coats, or long waits at the Canadian border (if applicable, of course). Thankfully I have yet to forget my lab coat, but I did cut it close one time when I did not expect to sit in the exit lane on the Scajaquada Expressway to Highway 33 for ten minutes. While it is especially important to arrive on time at the hospital so you don’t have to chase your instructor down all morning, it is good just to keep this in mind as you begin your professional career.
  2. The best parking spot is not always the closest. When it comes to finding parking, a good percentage of people spend an extraneous amount of time trying to find the closest parking spot instead of just parking a little further away and walking. When it comes to finding parking at a hospital, I have found the best parking is the furthest away – and also the cheapest. By parking in the free parking lot on the outskirts of the property, I figure I save at least $168 and get an extra 700 minutes of exercise walking a semester. The only setback to my theory: snow.
  3. Cafeteria food isn’t as bad as people think. Contrary to popular belief, I have found that cafeteria food can be pretty good! Although there are many other options available, I have found to really like the soup, salad, and fruit bars that are offered. Not only is it a great option for when I don’t feel like packing a lunch, it can also easily fit into my budget – not to mention that dietary staff benefit from coffee priced at an extremely affordable $0.16!
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Although it is important to appear confident when discussing a patient’s health plan with them, it is okay to ask your clinical instructor questions when they arise. In fact, instructors are there to help you learn, as you are a student, not an expert. Just remember it is still a good idea to try to problem solve by yourself first so you can come to your instructors with well-thought out and educated questions!

How did you spend your summer? Did you get the summer off or did you spend it in school like me? For those of you who have already gone through internships, what advice would you give to us “beginners?” Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the author


Major: Dietetics.
Where I’m from: The Midwest.
When I graduate: I hope to begin my career as a clinical dietitian at a general hospital/ children’s hospital and eventually specialize in preconception and pregnancy nutrition or weight loss counseling.


  • Leaving early is a GREAT tip! It once took me 45 minutes to get to Sister’s Hospital from Cheektowaga (what should be a 15 minute ride). There were 2 or 3 accidents on my route causing huge delays. If I hadn’t left 45 minutes before I had to be there I would have been late = super unprofessional as you said. Now I leave about an hour before I have to be there… just incase! And if I get there in 15 minutes I get 45 to myself to sit in my car and prepare for the day ahead.

  • I love the parking advice!! I feel like this is applicable to everyone, not just people who are doing clinicals. My dad needs to read this article!

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