Becoming a dietitian is no easy feat. It takes years of study of difficult and demanding classes (please don’t mention Organic Chemistry). You need at least an undergraduate degree ( and soon a Master’s will be required). You must complete an internship that can last nine months to over a year, You must pass a board exam and then for the rest of your career you have to keep up annual educational credits. Despite all of this hard work and sacrifice you won’t find many dietitians who say that got into the field to become rich.
Over the years I’ve met dietitians in a variety of fields… from clinical, consultants and culinary to authors and academics and have asked many what made them decide to become a registered dietitian. ( You can listen to podcasts of my interviews with dietitians here: http://www.ingles-markets.com/dietitian/leah/podcasts )
It’s sort of like asking someone how they met their significant other…how they “knew” he or she was THE ONE.
Influenced by a class:
Leslie Bonci – Director of Sports Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
“I had an undergrad degree in bio psychology and no clue what I wanted to do Started grad school in public health one of my first courses was Maternal and Child Nutrition it was fireworks! I knew nutrition was what I wanted to pursue.”
Heather Mangieri – Owner and Nutrition Consultant, Nutrition CheckUp LLC,
“…after taking a physiology class my freshman year I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field. I also knew I did not want to work with blood. That’s when I discovered nutrition as a major. It was the only field that I could help people get healthy without having to deal with blood…”
Carolyn O’Neil – author, Nutrition Advistor – Best Food Facts
“I was already an English major at Florida State University but wasn’t really happy with the gloomy writer types in my classes. So, I flipped open the FSU course catalogue ….and looked up Food & Nutrition. The courses jumped off the page! Food History, Food Science, Diet and Disease! I changed my major as soon as I got back to campus and didn’t even tell my academic advisor.”
Desire to Improve Health of Self or Others
Patrician Bannan – Nutrition and Health Communications, author
“When I hit high school, I wanted to fit in with the other “slim” girls and started dieting. I did lose weight, but I was confused with all the conflicting information and frustrated that I could not maintain the weight I wanted. In my 20s I vowed to find a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. That’s why I decided to study nutrition in college and later become a registered dietitian.”
Dawn Jackson Blatner – Author, Chicago Cubs Nutrition Consultant
“In college, I saw a TV show that said: “Do for a career what you do in your spare time.” I spent most of my free time at the local healthfood store & cooking out of a vegetarian cookbook so a counselor suggested a career in nutrition.”
Career Change – Desire to Learn Something More/Different:
Keri Gans – Nutrition Consultant, spokesperson, author
“I was feeling stagnant in my current profession and decided I needed a change – a big change. I was always interested in eating healthy and staying fit so I decided to take my personal passion and make it professional.”
Dave Grotto – Author, President of Nutrition Housecall,LLC :
“I became an RD because I realized I didn’t know what the hell I was taking about when I dispensed free health information to my customers at my health food store.”
Personal or Family Illness
Kristi King – Senior Dietitian – Texas Children’s Hospital
“I became an RD because of my father. He was diagnosed with Type I DM when he was 13 and suffered significant health issues as he became older. I wanted to prevent other families from having to going through what my family did!”
Christine Rosenbloom – Professor Emerita Georgia State University
“I wanted to be a dietitian when I was 13…dad had kidney disease and was on dialysis and I made low protein breads for him. I thought it was interesting that food was an integral part of his care.”
Dr. Susan Mitchell – Host – Breaking Down Nutrition podcast
“…my father consulted a dietitian for his cholesterol and told me all about his visit. I was fascinated.”
Family Member Encouragement
Shari Steinbach – Healthy Living Manager – Meijer Supermarkets
“I became a dietitian because my Grandmother always took time to prepare wholesome meals and discuss with me why a healthy diet is important. … she lived to be 97 and was never once in the hospital.”
Influenced by a Dietitian or Dietetic Intern
Connie Diekman – Director of University Nutrition – Washington University in St. Louis
“I had two inspiring motivators – 1) an RD friend of my mom and 2) my home Ec teacher who was an RD. Both loved what they did and offered great encouragement when I talked about my interest in health and food.”
Toby Smithson – Author, Founder Diabetes Everyday
“…in 8th grade …I was hospitalized with the stomach flu. I had to be monitored carefully because of my type 1 diabetes. A dietetic intern who also happened to have T1 diabetes came to my bedside as part of her rounds-and that’s when the journey began. I was inspired by a dietetic intern.”
Angela Lemond – Owner Lemond Nutrition, Board Certified in Pediatric Nutrition
“Took an “elective” Nutrition 101 class thinking it’d be super easy…. realized that I was wrong – it was much harder – but I was inspired by Donna Israel, PhD, LPC, RD, FADA’s passion. I didn’t pursue dietetics until 10 years later, but Donna is now a dear friend. She became a mentor.”
“Why did you become a dietitian?” Was there a person, event or a class that was the motivation?
Here are their answers:
One question that I often get asked is about how I got interested in my field. Why nutrition?
Growing up, I always enjoyed reading the “health” sections of newspapers and magazines. I loved the idea that I could take control of my health by eating a nutritious, balanced diet.
When choosing a major for college, I wanted to choose a degree that would provide me with useful knowledge, no matter where my career might take me. Regardless of where I worked (or even if I became a stay-at-home-mom), I knew that the information I learned about how to eat healthy would be beneficial for the rest of my life. It’s just good life knowledge. And if I could make a career out of it… even better!
I also knew that I wanted a career that helps people (and preferably, helps the planet as well). While doctors, nurses, and trainers all work to make people healthier, nutrition seems more, well… fun. After all, food is fun! And in this blog, I try to show that eating healthy can be enjoyable.
For more about my journey and professional experience, see the “Meet Kelly” page.
How did you choose your career path? Are you interested in nutrition?
P.S. Kinda obsessed with bookcase styling. See here.