|How did you know this career was what you wanted to do?
I knew that I was interested in health & medicine since I was in high school. I attended summer camp and learned the necessary skills to serve as a sports trainer for our football and track teams. Part of the training included proper nutrition and hydration which intrigued me. Nutrition and exercise were always very important to me. My best friend's mother, who I looked up to, was a registered dietitian and she encouraged me to follow in her footsteps. I did and know in my heart that I'm doing what was meant for me!
What other careers did you consider?
Being that I spent my high school years as a sports trainer I considered that as a career choice. However, the university I was attending did not offer this program. I also considered physical therapy but realized I did not want to be that "hands on".
What experiences in your life developed your interest in your career?
As a little girl I was very concerned about eating my fruits and vegetables for good nutrition. I can remember learning about the basic 4 food groups as a schoolgirl and liked planning my meals in the summertime. I thought dill pickles were considered a healthy vegetable so I clearly had much to learn about nutrition! It wasn't until I met my best friend in high school that I realized I could turn my passion for nutrition into a career. It was her mother, a registered dietitian, who greatly influenced me to pursue dietetics. I'm glad I did!
What early preparations did you take (in high school and college) to reach your career goal?
What things did you find to be difficult as you prepared for your career?
I had a very difficult time with chemistry classes in college. I suppose this is because I did not spend adequate time mastering it in high school. In addition, the internship process was very competitive so I had to be sure to maintain a high GPA in my undergraduate studies to ensure graduate internship placement. I had difficulty finding the time and a way to ensure I stood apart from other students.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I took advantage of free tutoring services provided by my university to help me get through chemisty classes. I also joined the student organizations and ran for office to show initiative and leadership.
Was your family supportive of you through your college (or other training) years?
Did you have a job and work while you were going to college or other training? Yes
Present Career as a Dietitian
Describe an average work day for you.
I am now the program director for a college dietetics program. I prepare for class by reviewing my textbooks and researching the latest in nutrition research. I teach daytime, evening, and online classes. I do spend much time at my desk computer doing research and attending to my online classes. I am available for student conferences and answer many calls regarding our program. I also have some administration responsibilities such as maintaining relationships with area hospitals/clinics for our student internship program.
How many hours do you work in an average week?
What kind of health care setting do you work in?
Academic - Program Director of Dietetics
What do you see as strengths needed for your career?
Organization and time management skills, interpersonal skills, public speaking skills, an interest in research, a positive attitude, patience, and above all, a desire to help people and make a difference in our society.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Our students! I love seeing our students reach their goals and succeed. That's exactly why I do what I'm doing. Knowledge is power and I'm so proud to have a part in empowering eager women and men.
What advice would you give to those who are interested in your career?
A master's degree is necessary and in many cases, a doctorate degree if someone is interested in becoming a college professor of dietetics. However, this is not the case if one is interested in becoming a practicing registered dietitian. However, a master's degree will always give you more opportunity and bargaining power when it comes to salary. I certainly advise going for a master's degree.
If you could start over, would you still make the same decision to pursue education?
Absolutely! I love what I do and see a bright future for the field of dietetics. This nation is in need of nutriiton professionals and that need will only continue to grow.
Do you plan to pursue opportunities for advancement in your career field?
As I said before, knowledge is empowering and I always look for ways to advance and improve. I've thought about pursuing a doctorate degree in the future. There are also opportunitites to become specialized in weight management and this interests me as well.
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