Coincidentally, this year National Dietitian Day fell on the same day as International Womens’ Day. Which is cool, and also semi-ironic in my opinion as last time I checked Dietetics is still a predominately female field (shout out to my fellow dude RD’s).
I was blessed to be raised in a home where I had two parents that consistently told me that if I worked really hard I could do whatever I wanted in life. I call that a blessing because I know not everyone is even that fortunate to be given that unconditional love and support.
That being said looking back 11 years ago, I was a senior in high school (did I really just admit that?!), I had been accepted to Michigan State, and probably had no idea there was a profession of “dietitian”.
In fact I was planning to go to school to be a Veterinarian, if you know me well this isn’t a stretch, I love, and I am obsessed with animals. When I realized you essentially had to go to school almost as long/equally as long as a medical doctor I was swayed into considering my career options.
This led me to a semester full of electives where I encountered another blessing in disguise: a professor who disliked teaching (and preferred research), who taught my Intro to Nutrition course. Her dislike for undergrad students ensured we had a lot of guest speakers and I ended up being fascinated by the many avenues the profession could take. I still remember the day and lecture that made me decide to change my major. The speaker was a lactation consultant and just ridiculously knowledgeable, but also do down to earth and how she talked about to nutrition with us, and ultimately made the point that one size doesn’t fit all. In the months to follow there were more speakers like her, and I made my trip to MSU’s nutrition office to look into changing my major, that was in Spring 2007, and I haven’t looked back since.
This also led me to spending the next 3 years convincing my parents and family that a dietitian is a real profession and Dietetic is in fact a real major.
As I’ve said on here before, to become a Registered Dietitian, you have to complete/get a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics/Nutrition in a CDR approved program. Our classes are comprised from biochemistry, organic chemistry, statistics, advanced nutrition & metabolism, to everything from food labs, and food service management. By the time you’re a Junior in a Dietetics program, it is time to seriously consider what you’re going to do in terms of getting an Internship. A degree in Dietetics is the first step to becoming a Registered Dietitian, after that you need to complete an internship which are your hours of supervised practice. So towards the mid to end of your junior year, it helps to have an idea of which internships/programs will best fit you, because wherever you match at, you will be spending the next 9-24 months there.
Again, here I was lucky, I matched into my first choice (that part maybe wasn’t luck, because I worked REALLY hard) what was luck was I met a few of my very best friends in this internship, which really helped in terms of me surviving as this internship was not only my first time living far away from home (MSU was about a 20-30 minute drive from my parents) but it was also the most stressful 15 months of my life.
Since finishing my internship in 2011, I have been so lucky to make so many friends in this field called dietetics, and have spent pretty much all of my time working in the area of weight management and diabetes management. Again if you would have asked me what an insulin pump was in 2007 I would not have been able to even describe one, nor would I have even been able to begin explaining how a pancreas works, or how to help someone lose weight.
Not just that, but I have friends who work in the ICU and NICU who spend their days figuring out how to feed adults and babies who cannot eat. I have friends and colleagues who manage hospital and long term care facility kitchens, and they are responsible for ordering food for 100’s of people, but planning and changing menus for the same people.
I once read somewhere that a career in Dietetics is one of the worst Return on Investments as a career choice. And that really sucked to read. A majority of RDs I know absolutely love being an RD, and health educator/promoter. I do know of a few who later pursued nursing, medical, and PA school. What I think we all have in common at the end of the day is that we are able to give people an improved quality of life, and nutrition status, and that is something that is so awesome.
Dietitians are nourishers, health promoters, and food lovers. We are foodies, and combatters of fads. We stand with science, and sometimes this makes what we say unpopular. We are critical thinkers, and in many cases do more work than what we are recognized for doing. We can go into ridiculous boring detail in explaining how your body utilizing different macronutrients, and why you should eat your vegetables.
So, in short, Dietitians are badasses.