Thank you Michele!
- Briefly, could you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do? I am an educator and a doctoral student, and I approach learning from both directions. I really believe that getting my doctoral degree will be beneficial to students, as I learn a lot more about what I am teaching. It makes me remember what students up against every day as you study/take tests.
- What drew you to the field of nutrition? I was originally in psychology and I wanted to be an art therapist working with children. I transferred out to University of Colorado in Denver, and while studying there I was require to take a physiology course. We did surgery on rats, giving them different chemicals and seeing how they responded physiologically. I found it fascinating, and right about the same time I visited friends in California in early 80s when whole organic foods just starting to get 'popular'. I grew up on hot dogs, and tv dinners, and to see fresh fruits/vegetables was fantastic, and really opened my eyes to the role nutrition can play in your life. I told my adviser I wanted to switch into nutrition, but she advised that I finish my psychology major, and afterward I went to UMass Amerest for a Nutrition Master. I am now a doctoral candidate doing brain chemistry and behavior research.
What is your favorite part about being a dietitian? I have never been interested in counseling and I was in clinical nutrition for 20 years, with 10 of them being a manager. I reached a point where I didn’t have anything more to learn and it was not challenging. Now am excited about learning how to teach and getting good at being a college professor. So much more to learn. I enjoy being a professor more than being a dietitian I guess. Something that is nice about the field though is that it is constantly changing. This can also be a stumbling block through.Because of that things are changing, recommendations that are there one day will be changed the next. Public thinks we’re blowing in the breeze. It's one of the challenges of being a relatively new science. I know you are currently getting your PhD in Nutrition. How has holding advanced degrees in this field helped you? Masters helps sometimes, but you have to do it for yourself not for the pay raise. Drs and nurses often don’t know what our certifications mean. How can we, as current and future dietitians, find more respect in the medical community and general population? The biggest thing is to put the responsibility on yourself to always be the best that you can be. It’s easy, by virtue of their title, for physician and nurse-you already ascribe a level of competence and knowledge. We have several strikes against us. Old-timer Doctors see us as those who work in the kitchen, don’t know we have clinical knowledge. Don’t ask ignorant questions. Know your information. You are representing a whole field of professionals. Be on your mark, all the time. Especially because if you even slip a little bit many physicians don’t give you the benefit of the doubt. Constantly review. You are the face of dietitians. What is one thing you wish you could get every American to do to make our country healthier? There are so many, but MOVE.
In our conversation we also discussed some of the negatives about the field-the lack of authority in the medical community and general public that RDs seem to have, the poor pay-scale, and homogeneous mix of individuals (98% white women). For the amount of education we receive and time we seem to put into our work, it is hard to be recognized and rewarded. It's just emphasized how much harder I have to continue to work and shimmer and shine!!
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum I also spent Friday at the MDA's annual nutrition conference with 450 amazing RDs. It was wonderful catching up with friends and meeting new students. Social media and blogging are huge buzzwords right now-and it's a fun environment to be in the middle of! This career is really all about networking-and I love it!
Midterms are over-and April will provide a mini lull before Finals start, so I'll wrap up the month with a few more interviews, a summary of what I learned from more experienced RDs, new restaurant reviews, and my experiences with barefoot running!
If you are an RD how do you feel about the ADA and the entire Nutrition Field? If you aren't what are your general impressions/stereotypes? Be honest!