What can I do now to prepare become the best dietitian I can be in the future?
I get this question quite frequently, so I figured I would address it in today’s blog posts.
I have twice taken part in my former university’s nutrition peer mentor program, so I do have actual experience acting as a mentor for aspiring dietitians.
Here are five things for you to consider
1) It’s never too early to start building your brand: With the power of social media, we all have an opportunity to become something beyond what we do 9-5. I’ve been on Instagram for a year and I’ve gained so many opportunities as a result. Clients, work opportunities, website hits and so on. I recommend all aspiring dietitians to take a look at what your colleagues are doing on Instagram and other social media platforms and start to find your own niche, because you never know where it will lead you in the future.
2) Consider writing a blog: I may be a bit bias here, but I believe that blogging is one of the best tools for professional development and continuing education. Effective and evidence-based communication is a pillar of dietetic practice. You need to be able to share high quality evidence in a concise and understandable way. Every time you write a blog topic, the research and preparation that goes into that piece becomes internalized knowledge that allow you better carry yourself as a future professional. On top of this, your blogs become a portfolio that reflect on your competence and commitment to continuing education and health promotion. The same could be said for other similar ventures such as creating instructional videos, recipes, etc.
3) Volunteer/Work in areas you think you want to go into: Surely, if you aspire to become a clinical dietitian ( or any other type of dietitian) you will be doing yourself a great service by seeking out opportunities to work/volunteer with one while you are still a student. Getting experience in the areas you aspire to work in will not only teach you what it’s really like ( and help you confirm it is actually what you thought it would be like) but will also reflect well on future job and internship applications. For all you volunteers out there, don’t be discouraged by entry level positions that seem to be trivial as those can eventually lead to meaningful opportunities. I started off doing photocopies in Toronto’s largest hospital and was co-teaching diabetes education courses and helping with PhD research by the end.
4) Volunteer/Work in areas you dislike: There is something to be said for people who willingly step outside of their comfort zones. This is why one of the most common questions in interviews and applications relate to identifying your weaknesses and explaining what you have done to improve on them. Ask yourself this question right now. What skills do you lack in or which areas of dietetics you lack experience in? Once you have identified them, take the steps you need to take to get stronger in those areas.
5) Do other things that set you apart: Whether that means becoming a president of a course union or a club, captaining a sports team or whatever the case may be. If you are faced with an opportunity to do something valuable that not many people are willing/able to do, take that opportunity. If something appears difficult and to require committment, you should be drawn to it. Doing meaningful work that others may not be willing to do is exactly what sets you apart in this competitive profession.
To all you future RDs out there, I hope this has helped.
I know you have a lot running through your mind right now but hopefully you can take a few of these tips to heart and I am confident that they will benefit you in the long run.
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH