Monday, November 03, 2008

What’s it like to be a….Registered Dietitian?

My job title is: Registered Dietitian (RD)
My actual position is: Coordinator of Corporate Wellness & Sustainability

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If youíve had this position for a while, how have things changed?

My position as a Registered Dietitian for a food service management company is somewhat unique.  I travel to around the country and provide nutrition education, menu, sanitation, and sustainability planning for my companyís accounts.  My position has changed quite a bit since I took it six years ago.  As environmental concerns have gained attention, many companies were called to action, including mine.  I became the coordinator of our sustainability program, which was a big challenge as this wasnít exactly part of the curriculum when I attended school.  Iíve learned that the environment and nutrition are even more intrinsically linked than I originally thought and that has greatly influenced how I look at food and nutrition.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
In high school and college I worked in various food service settings (restaurants, college dining halls), and while I wasnít doing this to gain valuable experience for my future career, I did.  Before beginning graduate school and my dietetic internship, I worked as a Dietetic Technician in a clinical setting within a hospital.  This is my first job as an RD.

What kind of training/education did you have? 
I have a B.S. in Dietetics with a specialization in Health Promotions.  I have also completed a Dietetic Internship (a graduate-level certification program). 

What would you suggest?
In order to become a Registered Dietitian you must have a degree from an accredited didactic program after which you must complete a dietetic internship (approximately 12 month program) before sitting for the RD exam.

What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position?
 
Being a good communicator is very important, along with being willing to continue learning.  Dietetics is a constantly evolving field and continuing to educate yourself is critical.

What are the rewards in your position? Challenges? What makes a good day for you?

Feeling like you are trying harder to get someone to follow healthful eating habits than they are can be tough.  But when someoneís health improves, or they lose/gain weight, or feel more comfortable about understanding food, then thatís a huge reward.  And thatís a good day.

What trends or changes do you foresee in the next 5-10 years?
A greater emphasis on nutritionís role in disease prevention and environmental issues.

How could a person find out more about your field?

You can visit the American Dietetic Association website: http://www.eatright.org and/or the Commission on Dietetic Registration website: http://www.cdrnet.org

Can you suggest any careers which are similar to yours? 
Dietetic Technician (DTR) Ė you can work as a DTR with only your degree from an accredited didactic program or by completing a two-year DTR certification program.  If you choose the DTR program you cannot then apply for a dietetic internship with only this certification.

When you were growing up, did you have any interests that you have built into your work?
I grew up all over the Midwest.  I love talking with people, and my current position allows me to do this every day.

What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are today? 
Getting a dietetic internship is really tough.  Unfortunately just completing an undergraduate program doesnít get you in, itís very competitive.  And the internship itself is tough too.  Youíre working over 40 hours per week, youíre not getting paid (and in most internships you are paying for the program), youíre often taking graduate classesÖitís a lot to juggle.

What was your first job like after college?

I am currently working in my first job (as an RD) after college.

Are there any web sites you would suggest for more information about your field?
 
http://www.eatright.org

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/03 at 11:15 AM
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