My First Year as an RD

This time last year, the grisly scene above – probably familiar to some of you! – was a mainstay of my living room floor (the only place with enough room to spread out all of the materials I wanted at my fingertips). That’s right… Today I’m celebrating my first full year as an RD!

While becoming a registered dietitian was a major undertaking, from the years of classes, to the way-too-long-to-be-unpaid internship, to the final frazzled study sessions (Even Chuy seems to say, “Um… is everything OK??”) I’m confident that it was the best choice I could have made for my future. So I’m taking this milestone as an opportunity to share some of my perceptions from my experience so far. If you’re into it, come join in for a little #RDChat!

Becoming an RD is, without a doubt, the best way to build a career in the nutrition industry. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for non-RDs to have specialized knowledge, to accurately assess the evidence, to be smart and to have great contributions in the field. But RDs receive a well-rounded and in-depth education, and those two letters are a strong signal that the person I’m talking to is informed by the same science-based principles that I follow. It’s the only nationally recognized credential for nutrition experts, and within the industry it opens a lot of doors. The only thing we need to improve is recognition of the RD credential among the general public!

RDs are some of the best colleagues you could ask for. Because of the trust I just mentioned (and also because we all busted our butts so hard to get here), there is an incredible amount of camaraderie within the RD profession. We build each other up, help each other out, refer contacts, share resources, you name it! There’s no way that I could have gotten as far as I’ve come without the amazing support I’ve had from the great RDs I’ve been lucky enough to learn from.

There is a wealth of opportunity out there for RDs to build our own unique career paths. The diversity of career options in this field was something that drew me toward working in nutrition, and after a year in the trenches I’m not disappointed with what I’ve found. Even though most jobs are in the clinical setting, if you make the right efforts there are a million ways to specialize and turn your passions into what you do for a living. After my internship I knew that healthcare was NOT for me, but I was able to apply my nutrition skills and my love for the culinary arts into my current job, where I do nutrition analysis for restaurants and have never been happier. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention blogging; I see so much potential in this medium for making a real impact as an RD, and I look forward to working toward a lot of big dreams here in this space. There’s some stereotyping of RDs as anal-retentive, detail-oriented types, but the field is wide open for innovations from creative minds, trailblazers, and free-thinkers of all kinds. If you’re passionate about nutrition and good food, get in here and make your mark!

So that’s what’s been on my mind… but what’s your perspective? When you see those letters after a name, what does it make you think? Do you seek out RDs as the source of your nutrition information? Dietitians, are you happy with the field? What would you like to see change in the future? How do you ultimately aspire to use your credential?

While I await your response, I’m turning my attention to celebrating my milestone… After work today I’m planning to pick up takeout from a new vegan place in town, pig out on the couch, take satisfaction in my accomplishments, and dream about what’s next. Year 1 was great, but I can’t wait to see what happens in Year 2!

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