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!