Saint Louis University

Author: Aisha Kashif
Published: Wednesday, December 21 2011

With the holidays just around the corner, we remember the famous saying, “It is better to give than to receive.” Well call me selfish, but in my eyes, receiving is what makes this internship so unique and special. While each and every one of us gives everything we have to our rotations, it is what we receive from them that makes each experience so valuable.

As we began the internship, I remember thinking to myself that rotating through so many sites and meeting many people would not be beneficial. I felt that spending two weeks at each site would be a disadvantage rather than a benefit. However, as I began to rotate through each site, I quickly realized the worth in the system. Here at SLU, we have been blessed with an abundance of sites. With each site, comes the most important thing; our preceptors. Without these individuals giving up their valuable productivity time, we interns would be lost and unchallenged.

At the end of each rotation, we are required to evaluate our site, our preceptor and ourselves. One of the evaluation criteria states, “Preceptor was valued for advice beyond what was directly related to the rotation.” On paper we are allowed to rank on a number system where “1” indicates “Strongly Disagree” and “5” indicates “Strongly Agree.” It is difficult to rank the valuable advice and experiences our preceptors share as a number.

It starts off from the beginning. During the introduction to rotations we are matched with a Graduate Assistant as well as a SLU Faculty member. Both are asked to share their time with us on site and assist us in our data collection, interviewing, and counseling skills. While they are required to share their knowledge of nutrition, they volunteer their personal knowledge and life experiences. During the first two weeks, I learned many things about time management and how to handle the stresses of the internship. Both preceptors gave advice on how to juggle classes and projects while still maintaining a social life and friends. They give this advice because not too long ago, they too stood in our shoes.

2012 Saint Louis University Dietetic Intern Preceptor of the Year
Every year, the interns nominate a preceptor to get the Preceptor of the Year Award at Graduation.

As we move on, we continue to meet more preceptors. Each one unique and eager to share whatever they can with us. Most lessons they teach us come from their life experiences, not a textbook. Many are seasoned parents, managers, educators, and clinicians able to share their journey to assist in shaping ours. One preceptor in particular shared her life’s journey with me; her highs and lows, accomplishments, and failures, not to prove a point, but to help me better understand her. See, our preceptors are our partners during the time we share. They stand beside us with the perfect amount of direction and independence. In order to understand how they work, it is important to understand where they have been.

2012 Saint Louis University Dietetic Intern Preceptor of the Year
Another amazing preceptor receiving her award.

Preceptors invest their time and confidence in us. They want us to succeed and move from being interns to becoming colleagues. Over the past four months I have met many preceptors but I walk away with mentors and friends. While their main focus is to shape us into experienced dietitians, somewhere along the way, they share a bit of themselves with us. Based on my experiences with preceptors, I realize that while giving all of yourself is important, what we receive in the end is the best gift of all!