My Top Tips for Any New Dietitian

Sharing my top tips for any new dietitian starting their career. Along with my own ups and downs as I began my career as a dietitian.

My top tips for any new dietitian.

My Top Seven Tips For Any New Dietitian Beginning Their Career

After completing the strenuous journey of becoming a dietitian, here are seven of my top tips for any new registered dietitian.

  1. Be flexible. Landing your dream job right out of your internship isn’t feasible for everyone.
  2. Prepare for different interviews. Practice different questions based on different settings. For example, different interview questions may be asked for a clinical position versus a community position.
  3. Be persistent. As you know, becoming a dietitian is no easy journey. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get every job you apply to. Persistency and determination will get you where you need to be.
  4. Be humble. If you come across a position that seems to be below your skill set, still apply. Every experience you go through is an opportunity to learn.
  5. Reach out to past preceptors, mentors, and advisors. I always heard the quote “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” growing up. And after being a dietitian for over five years – this quote is spot on. Build those connections and always treat others with respect. One day they may offer you a new opportunity you’ve been looking for.
  6. Have an open mind. When I first began my career, I worked managing a nursing home kitchen. At the time, I believed this to be my dream job (far from it, lol). However, this position didn’t last long. I applied for new jobs, applying for positions that I knew would help build the foundation of my career.
  7. Be open to trying new things. I cannot emphasize this enough. When an opportunity falls into your lap, take it. The skills you learn and connections you meet may positively change the path of your career.
My top tips for any new dietitian.
Made it into the Milwaukee Sentinel showcasing my clients achievements in his health journey.

My Own Experiences as a New Dietitian

Sharing my personal experience of beginning my career as a dietitian. Can anyone else relate to a chaotic first few years as a dietitian?

Kitchen Manager in a Nursing Home

My first position was as a dietitian and kitchen manager in a nursing home. I was drawn to this position as it reminded me of working at Mayo Clinic in undergrad. However, it was not the same experience, haha! In my first week, I had two chefs quit (out of the three we had), with the third leaving in the next two weeks. Being oblivious, I assumed we had new chefs in the pipeline as I was also training to be the dietitian for the nursing home. However, I came to realize – I was hired not only as the dietitian and kitchen manager, but as the chef, too.

I worked 15 hour days mass producing breakfast, lunch, dinner, serving the meals, and passing out food (we were also short on food service workers, of course). After two weeks, I went to HR to discuss needing more staff, as it was not sustainable to be working such long days. During this time, I realized she was telling my staff they could take off, even though we were already short staffed. Long story short, I didn’t end up working for too much longer in this position.

Nursing Home Dietitian

After a few weeks of job searching, I accepted a position working in a nursing home, rehab facility and had the best mentor training me in. Unfortunately, the company I worked for went bankrupt, and I lost all my vacation, 401k, etc. I built up over that first year of working for them.

However, a new company came in and the entire kitchen staff and myself began working for them. Everything went fine, until it wasn’t. The kitchen manager was having an affair with the nursing home administrator and I somehow became intertwined within the mess. She told me twice about the affair and before I knew it, I was cornered in my office by the CEO of my company and the owner of the nursing home. The fact that I was dragged into the middle of it still baffles me – they talked to me about this situation as if I was to blame. The kitchen manager ended up being fired and shortly after, I put my two weeks in. The entire situation was entirely ridiculous, to say the least!

My biggest word of advice: if you’re ever in a similar situation, immediately go to HR. And second, don’t waste your time working for individuals who show you no respect. They will never be worth your time.

Foundation Owned, Health Services Company

My next job was working for a foundation that was in the beginning processes of building easy access to nutrition for those in needs. This was an amazing position – I went from having an office in an old bread closet, to my own stunning room with a view of the Milwaukee river.

While in this position, I had the opportunity to help build up the nutrition program, presenting my ideas to the board of directors including the CEO. I worked closely with a functional doctor, agriculturalists, personal trainers, web developers, chefs, and those with a business background. I had meetings with many higher up individuals, presented in nutrition education videos to be displayed on our health app, and even had the opportunity to meet with NASA to discuss bone health in astronauts – still one of the coolest opportunities.

When covid hit, I helped to fill in for staff shortages in the kitchen. This is truly when my love for cooking began. I worked closely with two professional chefs who opened my eyes to creative cooking with healthy ingredients. By no means was I a chef at that point, so it was a major learning curve. But the lessons I learned from this experience truly inspired me to create Abigail Jean. While in this position, I also worked as a health coach working closely with a community nutrition specialist and personal trainer. These two women quickly became mentors in conducting lab draws and how to work with clients of varying backgrounds.

Working at this company provided me with the foundation needed to launch me into my current career as a dietitian. I’m forever grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that were provided during this time!

My third word of advice: always take the opportunities, no matter how uncomfortable or scared you may be. These experiences will help you grow!

Private Practice Dietitian

Through all this chaos, I wouldn’t change a thing. These positions helped me grow both in my career and as a person. Without going through the past, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am currently working for a wonderful dietitian company doing private practice specializing in preventative care and sports nutrition, working with amazing food brands, and having a boss who is both a mentor and a friend.

So, long story short. Go through all the experiences, as each contains a lesson and an opportunity to grow. And remember, every position comes with its own challenges. But never forget your worth.

If you have similar stories, I’d love to hear them below. It’s always comforting knowing I’m not the only one who struggled as a new dietitian, haha!

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Abigail Jean introduction.
Hello! I’m Abigail Jean, an admirer of health, wellness, food, and nature. I created this blog to share my admirations with other enthusiasts such as you!
I will provide you with the tools you need to create a healthy and happy lifestyle that is both realistic and sustainable. Thank you for visiting Abigail Jean, I look forward to sharing more with you!
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