A Day in the Life
What’s your current job and what does it require?
I work at an outpatient nutrition clinic at a hospital. My day typically consists of meeting with six or seven clients for about an hour each. Each meeting is a bit like a counseling session. I find out their schedule, food preferences and medical conditions in order to make food and lifestyle recommendations. I also teach classes for people who will undergo weight-loss surgeries. I help educate them on how to lose weight and remain healthy after surgery.
The best thing about my job is when someone has a “light-bulb” moment. All of a sudden they realize how diabetes works and what they can do to control it. I feel great when my clients reach their goals, like losing weight or improving their blood sugar.
How did you get interested in the field of nutrition?
My dad has diabetes, and I grew up watching him check his blood sugar, take insulin shots and make food choices based on the disease. I also saw what happened when he would get sick.
It motivated me to become a registered dietitian and work with people with diabetes so I could make a difference in their lives. In the future, one out of every three people in the United States will develop diabetes — so I know my job will always be in demand.
How did you gain experience in the field?
I started volunteering in a hospital while in high school. I helped out at the front desk, doing everything from admitting and discharging patients to delivering flowers.
Because the hospital knew me from volunteering, I had no problem getting a job there during summers in school. I worked in the kitchen, which helped my understanding of nutrition. For example, when I went back to class, I already knew which foods were high in potassium.
What does it take to be a good dietitian?
As a dietitian, it’s important to stay flexible. Every person is different, and you never know how your day is going to go. The one exception is paperwork, which you always have to do. I’m not really a paper person, but I know my notes will help the doctors give better care to my clients.
What’s your best advice for anyone considering working in health care?
Remember that no job is too small, even if it’s washing dishes in the hospital kitchen. You’ll learn from the people you work with, and it’s a good way to get your foot in the door.