A Day in the Life of a Registered Dietitian
March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign primarily led by Food and Nutrition Experts (aka dietitians) on making informed food choices, physical activity, and delivering credible scientifically-based food and nutrition information. Even though dietetics profession have evolved and come to a major spotlight within the last decade or so, I come across people all the time who are not sure about what is the role of a dietitian, the difference between dietitian vs. nutritionist, and the credentials behind our name.
I have never really shared much about my professional life with you guys, so being March being National Nutrition Month, it's only fitting to do "A Day in the Life of a Registered Dietitian". Before we begin, let me remind you that dietetics is a very broad field and it is not longer limited to just clinical, food service, and community setting. There are dietitians working in the media, restaurants, advisory committee, health department, private practice...the list goes on and on and every position is unique on its own. I am the only Clinical Dietitian for an acute care facility - Registered and Licensed in the State of Texas and I also manage food service side of things for the hospital.
Here is a great post on what is a Registered Dietitian - We have education, credentials, training, and license! Also, anyone can be a NUTRITIONIST but not a DIETITIAN.
7:45-8:00 am: Most days, I get to work between 7:45-8:00 am in order to attend an interdisciplinary rounds. This means we have a quick huddle with nurse, pharmacist, dietitian, case manager, and respiratory therapist about the patients we have on the unit.
8:00-10:00 am: Depending upon the census and nutrition consult, I try to see all my patients in the morning and make recommendations and get my charting done. I am fortunate to work at a fairly small hospital where I have a wonderful relationship with doctor, nurses, and other health care team members, which makes my job less complicated.
10:00-11:00 am: Meet with my dietary staff, round the kitchen, and ensure things are going well for the lunch service at 11:30 am. Food service was my least favorite area but for the last two years, I have been managing food service at my hospital. After the tragic incident, I took the lead and it's provided me with so many learning opportunities. It is still challenging at times but I have learned a lot on health department regulations, inventory management, food cost, and managing staff.
11:00-1:00 pm: Respond to emails, complaints, concerns and review previous day's report. I try to eat lunch with co-workers when possible or at my desk depending upon what I have going because everyday is different. You'd think the cafeteria managed by the dietitian is super healthy, however that is not the case. Rather than limiting fried foods, soda, desserts - we offer smoothie station, salad bar, 100% whole wheat bread, fresh fruit cup etc to encourage healthier food environment and keep everyone happy.
1:00-3:00: 2-3 times a week, I attend different committee meetings such as quality, infection control, departmental etc. I love when meetings involves cupcakes but otherwise, it is probably the least favorite part of my day.
3:00-4:30: Follow-up on pending items, new consults, vendor phone calls, scheduling. As you can see, I sit A LOT and spend majority of my time on the phone and computer.
I work for a relatively small hospital, which means things do get repetitive at times and being fairly newish at this field, I want to challenge myself and gain as much skills as possible. To prevent myself from being bogged down, I am constantly looking for new passion projects to better me and the hospital and thankfully, I have an extremely supportive administrator to make it possible. Here are few additional things I do
Manage nutrition department for our sister hospital on a consulting basis. This has allowed me to understand what goes into setting up a nutrition department, revamp the kitchen, hire employees, set policies etc in a rural community.
Community Education - Public speaking has always been my weakness, so in order to be better at it, I teach classes when possible to the community on various nutrition related topics.
Outpatient Nutrition Center - This has always been my goal but it hasn't happened yet. I have started the talk but there are lots of behind the scene stuff we are working on to make it happen. Hopefully soon.
Catering - This is the fun part of my job. I get to plan parties, decide on the theme, and make all the arrangements to make it come into action.
Yes, I do wear a lot of different hats and despite the stress, challenges, and 9-5 life - I wouldn't trade this unique position for anything else except maybe for my own business someday. All this wouldn't be possible without my employees because they are actually the ones doing the work, which I am grateful for every single day. Having employees is one thing but I think having the RIGHT type of employees to execute your plan is extremely important for successfully running a department.
I'd love to hear what you do for a living...
What's the favorite part about your job?