I got a (real) job!!

I certainly did.

Kaleida Health is the largest healthcare provider in Western New York and operates five hospitals in the area of varying sizes.  I did a month-long internship at Buffalo General, and also spent time at Women’s and Children’s Hospital earlier on in my time as a student.  I was always impressed with the professionalism of the dietitians and the thoroughness with which they practiced.

OK, enough rhapsodizing about my new employer.  Let’s get back to the story.


Clinical (i.e. someone who works in a hospital with acute-care patients) dietitian jobs are REALLY hard to come by here in Western New York.  As in, I’ve only SEEN two or three positions come open in the past year, and I’ve never even gotten a call for an interview,  even though I have a pretty strong resume (albeit with limited ‘real’ experience). We simply have too many dietitians in this area, despite all the healthcare facilities here.

So, you’ll appreciate how shocked I was to receive a call from Kaleida HR just one day after applying for this particular job.  Within a week I had an interview with HR, and as I sat in my chair, the rep made my next interview with the Clinical Nutrition Manager for the next Thursday afternoon.  The next morning, I got the call offering me the job!

I didn’t even know how much I wanted the job until I started interviewing…so I’m very thankful I got the opportunity to go back into the hospital!

The job, in particular, is at DeGraff Memorial Hospital, as a clinical dietitian.  It’s 20 hours a week, which is perfect for me since I already work part-time at Buffalo State College’s health center doing nutritional counseling with students.  Plus, DeGraff is pretty small (only 60 beds!), so the RDs there only work part-time and are usually responsible for the whole hospital themselves during their shift.  (A far cry from Buffalo General, where there may be six or seven RDs working full-time each day!)

One caveat: my job is temporary.  I’m filling in for an RD taking 6 months maternity leave, and I’m hoping that when she returns in February I’ll be able to find something part-time or per diem (like substituting) within Kaleida.


I started Friday by shadowing the woman for whom I’m filling in and will be with her for the next couple shifts before she’s on maternity leave.  I’m still getting back into the swing of things, but thankfully I have experience with their electronic medical record (the computer program we use to write notes and access information) and I have some time before I’m flying solo.

DeGraff is north of Buffalo and sounds far away (gasp! North Tonawanda!) but is approximately 30 minutes from my house and is almost all highway and no traffic, praise God.  Shifts are 8am-1pm, which is perfect for me to continue nutritional counseling at Buffalo State and teaching some classes at the YMCA.

I’m thrilled to get some real clinical experience under my belt, build my resume and excited to see what will be in store for me six months from now!

three down…we’re DONE

Today, I had my last 5:30 a.m. wake-up for the hospital. 

Breakfast in hand, I walked into Buffalo General for what may be the last time. 

During my ‘staff relief’ rotation this past month, I worked on the 14th floor with neuro patients, as well as in the neurosurgery ICU. I shadowed one of the kindest, most patient dietitians I’ve ever met, whose calm demeanor was a perfect match for my high-strung nature. She offered both constructive criticism and encouragement along the way. Because I worked on the same floors every day, I got to know some of the nurses and patients as well. By the end of our four-week rotation, I was doing follow-up assessments on patients I’d seen multiple times already. I knew the nurses’ names. I got to the point that I was calculating tube feeds in seconds and even had to whip up a TPN recommendation on the spot today for my last–and very complicated–patient.

This rotation is the one I was dreading the most, yet I think I ended up enjoying it far more than the other two, despite the early mornings and long days. Far and away, I learned more about acute care and nutrition support in these four weeks than I did in any classroom in the last four years.

Four years. I can’t believe it’s been that long. In a matter of days, I’ll leave Buffalo State’s campus for the last time after graduation. I struggle to reconcile the amount of knowledge I’ve gained with how much Andrew and I have not done these past four years. Trips, house projects, quality time, starting a family. In some ways, it feels like we ‘lost’ all that time. It has felt as if we were in limbo since moving here–house-hunting, moving twice, me going back to school–I realized the other day that I’ve never really had what felt like a ‘permanent’ job since I graduated from Penn State 10 years ago. The Air Force wasn’t ever going to be my career, my short stint as a library employee certainly wasn’t permanent, we knew we would move, and then I went back to school just months after arriving in New York. Summers off never feel quite like the break they should be…not for me anyway. 

But now, things will be different. I’m not sure how it will all look, but I’m confident the future will be bright. And not nearly as stressful.

Today, I finished up four weeks of intense work as a student-RD with some dear friends. 

Next week, we’ll graduate–after four long years–and nothing feels quite as good as that right now.