Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's it like to be a dietitian?

This afternoon, I received this comment from Kendra:


I discovered your blog searching for "a day in the life of a dietitian". I'm going back to school and I'm seriously considering becoming a dietitian. I've done research on the education and job description of a dietitian but what I really need is a first hand account of what your average work day might be like. Can you describe the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career? Thank you for this informative and inspiring blog.

Thank you Kendra for writing and I have decided the easiest way to address you questions would be to write up this post. This also will be helpful for others who are looking into becoming a dietitian too.

A day in a dietitian's life can be very different because there are a lot of ways to be a dietitian. One reason it is a great career choice is that it can often use your previous experiences and talents. For example, I found that my most fulfilling jobs before I was a dietitian was related to teaching. It turns out that my focus as a dietitian involves educating and facilitating. However,
I have not been practicing in the traditional career sense. It is much easier to describe a day in the life of a homeschooling mom at the moment. I'm not sure you'll get the answers you expected, but read on... you'll get your answers.

First, here are some things you need to consider:
Why are you thinking about dietetics? What is it about dietetics that interests you? And right now, how do you envision a day in your life would be if you were a dietitian?

Then, if you haven't already done so, read my post from the blogfest I co-hosted last year on National Registered Dietitian's day. There you will find links to at least 20 other dietitians showcasing their careers. If there is something about it that interests you, contact them too (if you haven't already).

I also encourage you to seek out dietitians in your area. I interviewed an RD at a local long term care (LTC) facility for my college's Junior English assignment. I asked similar questions you did and found it very helpful. I also decided that I didn't want to work in LTC. The RD I interviewed was wonderful, but the job description was not for me.

What is most rewarding? Being part of someone's journey towards healthier living. This can be done in simple ways, such as sharing a recipe that meets a dietary goal. Or it could be more elaborate, such as teaching a class. Given that people can't survive very long without food (and they will live better with good food), nutrition can be incorporated through daily living such as friendly conversation, community connections, etc. At this point of my life, my interaction is too limited to seek compensation. But there is plenty of opportunity out there for those who seek it.

Speaking of compensation, that is also the primary challenge. The average salary of a dietitian is quite modest compared to the level of education we have received, and we are lagging far behind other allied health professionals in insurance reimbursement. That being said, I think we are our greatest challenge. Marketing ourselves is a topic that deserves its own attention, but in a nutshell we need to learn the distinction between showcasing our work and showing off. The good news is that there are many dietitians meeting this challenge, and ready to support and encourage one another in the process. This is how the idea for the RD blogfest was born, and most likely why my blog ended up in your search results.

Well, I hope this has answered some of your questions. By what I was able to glean from your questions, you have been out of school for a bit. That is to your advantage as you have had more time to reflect upon what you want to do and you will be able to direct your experiences towards those goals. (Keeping in mind that goals and objectives get tweaked along the way.)

Hopefully, other dietitians and other nutrition professionals will chime in with their comments or write their own posts too.

Best wishes to you and to your future!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Talk to your kids about drugs...

...and what they tell you might surprise you.

My 7 y.o and I were going through his spelling list, with the word "drug" being one of them. As always, I asked him what he thinks the word means. He didn't know this one so I explained to him that a drug is another name for medicine. Then I proceeded to explain that drug is also a word for something that someone takes to feel good, but instead of helping their bodies, it can mess them up.

To which he eagerly responded, "like chocolate?"

Disclaimer: This post isn't intended to make light of the anti-drug campaign. I take that advice to heart and this is why this story came about. All ideas from my seven year old are of his own and does not necessarily reflect the position of his mother. :-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anybody out there?

I just found out that I didn't miss National Delurking Day this year!

I have mixed feelings about this imposition on you, but will you let me know you are reading? Especially if I know you in real life? I will still keep writing as I always have, but it's nice to know every now and then who actually reads this.

And then don't forget to read today's actual blog post if you haven't already.

Thanks for reading, whether you delurk or not.

To Be... Continued

Now that I have some hands free time (that unfortunately can't be devoted to sleep), I would like to follow up on my earlier post about being vs. doing.

Because even though the idea of writing "to be" goals was very profound, actually figuring out how to do it is another story.

But to start, I wrote down all the things that compose who I am. For example, I am a child of God, a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a blogger, a dietitian, etc.

Then I wrote down some adjectives that I would like to describe myself, such as "gentle, loving, accessible, etc."

I also made a list of descriptions that I feel are good things, but compete with other more important things. "Efficient" is one of them.

I didn't want to focus on what I don't want to be, but it still kept coming up. So to ease my mind, I made a list that included things like "short tempered". But it does help, because I can identify the things that influence them, as well as find the antonym to them.

I don't know where this will all take me, but it is good to make that reflection. Now I am praying for wisdom to discern what matters most. So, this list isn't going to come together quickly. It may take all year and even a lifetime to refine.

So be it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

To be or not to be...

A few weeks ago, I heard a sermon from Chip Ingram that shed some insight on setting goals and objectives for our lives. He mentioned that many years ago, he wrote down some goals about the kind of person he wanted to be. He always puts these goals before him when he is scheduling things in his calendar. That way, he always pencils in activities that will work towards those goals. So if one of his goals is to be a great husband, then he pencils in breakfast with his wife on such and such a day, etc.

The beauty of this is that it goes beyond prioritizing daily activities from your to-do lists. It helps us understand the motivation behind why we do certain things and weeds out that which really is not important.

This is probably why I gave up years ago on my resolution to learn how to play the guitar. It would be so wonderful to pick up the guitar and break out in song, but it hasn't happened because it really didn't fit within my life goals.

And how many of us end the day or the year lamenting we aren't accomplishing much? First, have we ever stopped to think what defines our accomplishments? Or have our definitions come from others or what we think others define as accomplishments?

Along those lines, I once heard an interview with Scott A. Sandage, author of Born Losers, in which he explores the history of failure in America. His explanation of the premise of the book was what caught my attention. If I recall correctly, he was listening to his grandmother describe all the failures of her late husband's business ventures. After such a dismal account, she paused, then stated, "He was a good man." What caught Mr. Sandage's attention was that although he was an utter failure in many people's eyes, he was fondly remembered by his wife as a good man.

Hmmm... something to think about. Wait. Scott A. Sandage already did that for us so maybe we should just read his book :-)

So as the new year is always one time of reflection in our lives, step back and take stock of the kind of person you desire to be, especially in the eyes of our loving God. Write them down. These will be lifelong goals, not a to-do this year list. Over time, you can reflect upon whether you are growing in these areas or not.

Thank you for reading and have a happy and prosperous New Year!

By the way, if you are interested in listening to Chip Ingram's sermon, Develop Great Habits, you can purchase the MP3 from his website.