04 Oct Reflections on being a dietitian
On Dietitian’s Day recently, it seemed timely to reflect on my career so far. It’s been a wonderful (almost) six years. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, but I wouldn’t have scripted it any differently. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had so many wonderful and unexpected opportunities and I sometimes find it difficult to explain exactly what it is I do for a living.
A dietitian can work in a clinical setting, community health centre or in a food service role in a hospital. However, there is also a role for dietitians in the food industry, media, and corporate health, at sporting clubs, in private practice, in aged care facilities as well as in childcare centres. I have been fortunate to have already had a taste of so many of these roles.
When I was at university, there was very little talk of dietitians working in the media or food industry. And there was ZERO talk of how dietitians could position themselves on social media. The focus was on traditional dietetic jobs in the clinical, community and food service fields. These days, aside from working in private practice, I don’t fit the mold of your run-of-the-mill dietitian. Not that I set out for it to be like that; I had no idea what my career would look like, and I was comfortable with that.
A huge part of my development as a dietitian has been to be open to any opportunities that came my way. Currently I consult to a range of food brands and companies, develop recipes, and have an active voice in the media and on social media. I still see clients in my private practice, too.
My day-to-day work varies immensely. Some days I’m in the kitchen (my other office) developing recipes using nutritional supplements, peanut butter, honey etc. And other days I’m sitting by my computer writing reports, articles or media pieces. A week later I find myself gearing up for a media interview or working on a presentation. And, of course there are days where I’m sitting across from private clients or residents in a nursing home. It’s very much a mixed bag, and that’s exactly how I like it.
Some of my favourite career highlights include:
- Appearing on My Market Kitchen
- Presenting at workshops and conferences and recording webinars
- Talking to corporates about nutrition
- Meeting with clients one-on-one
- Creating healthy recipes
- Developing recipe books
- Attending events, conferences and study tours
- Working with food brands to tailor their nutrition claims and messages
- Collaborating with other dietitians on social media
- Running cooking demonstrations
- Working under the head dietitian at Hawthorn Football Club
- Writing for health publications
- Recording podcasts
- Mentoring new graduates
- Meeting with students
- Speaking to journalists about newsworthy nutrition topics and trends
The changing landscape of my profession means that dietitians are forced to continually reinvent themselves. Yet, there are so many opportunities awaiting dietitians and nutrition professionals. It’s about being proactive, creative and positioning yourself in a way that appeals to prospective clients or employers. I often find that the key is to think outside the box.
I would not change my experiences for the world. They have shaped me into the dietitian I am today. I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve and I’m excited about what the future holds – even if that means I have to go back to the drawing board from time to time.
I reckon being a dietitian is… drum roll… pretty unbeatable.