Mentors and mentorees: A guide for aspiring Registered Dietitians

Last week I mentioned mentors:

“I have found that in the world of dietetics, many of us just want to help each other out. This has been true even for myself as I try to help fellow students along their pathway (more to come on this topic later). Why it is that we are all so eager to be mentors for others I don’t completely know, but I will venture a guess that it is because we love what we are doing.”

On Saturday (February 28th) I had the opportunity to attend a small conference with Dr. Blythe, my advisor, and Ron, another student from Berea College. This conference was hosted by the Southern Kentucky Area Health Education Center and titled Meeting the Challenges to Improve Cardiovascular Outcomes. There were several doctors, a nurse, and a dietitian that presented at this conference. The dietitian was Heather D. Leger, RD, LD from Commonwealth Family Physicians in Lexington, KY. I thoroughly enjoyed all the presentations and was pleased with my ability to follow along with the speakers. They presented at a level that most could understand and I could definitely see my countless hours of studying for Anatomy and Physiology coming into play. Some of the video and graphics that were presented were quite amazing, showing interventions within the valves of the heart and advanced technology for imaging cardiovascular disease. It was very astonishing and all I had to do was sit back and listen!

After the conference was over, Heather approached Dr. Blythe because she noticed Dr. Blythe’s RD credentials. In turn, Dr. Blythe introduced me and Ron to Heather. This began a whirlwind of information from Heather who had much advice about becoming an RD including programs, internships, and networking. It was great to hear from someone who has not been too far removed from being a student in an RD program and to receive advice. Although I definitely respect and value the advice I have received from other RDs and professionals, I have not had the opportunity to talk many who have only recently completed their program.

Heather’s enthusiasm to help out two students she just met that are interested in dietetics has not been unusual. As I mentioned in my post last week, Beth and Saundra (from Baptist Health, Richmond) were both very excited to share information and resources with me during my shadow experience. This has been the case for any dietitian, whether in training or already credentialed, that I have met.

As I self-quoted above, I believe the reason that professionals in nutrition are so excited to mentor each other is because we love what we are doing. And this is more than just a love for food, nutrition, and health; it is a love for caring for people whether that is through providing nutrition education, teaching and being an administrator in Higher Education to patients, or mentoring students wanting to pursue dietetics. There are many routes to help people and other dietitians within the field.

And this is where my contribution comes in. Similar to all the other dietitians I have met, I am enthused to share what I know and my experiences with other students. For my independent study course (read all about it here) I am to write a research paper. After the conference last week I came up with a much better idea than writing another literature review type research paper; instead I will be creating a guide for aspiring Registered Dietitians. This guide will be a jumping point for students (especially those at Berea College) who want to pursue dietetics. Much of my information will probably come from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, but I will supplement information from my own experience and research for RD programs, shadow work, and other activities. I really hope that this resource will give students who are simply thinking about becoming an RD a clearer image of what that means and how to do it!

For now, I have been looking into more graduate programs (actually got to visit UNC at Chapel Hill – more on that in my next post!) and trying to secure a job for the next year. Thankfully I have wonderful people like my Nana (who is doing her own research into programs and jobs) and my boyfriend, Zane (who keeps me from falling apart from stress and anxiety). Conducting job and school research along with all my other academic, work, and extra-curricular activities is not easy, but soon enough I will wish I could have it all back. Then again, I very much look forward to wherever it is I am going next, even if at this point it is still the “Great Unknown.”

I will blog about my visit at the University of North Carolina next and will hopefully have more hopeful news about job prospects!

~Lauren

Nana and Papa

I have been recently been reflecting back to my High School graduation, four short years ago. Can’t believe I am only 53 days away from walking across the stage again!! This picture is me with my Nana and Papa, two of my greatest mentors on this journey!
262006_236910986323985_1904268_nAnother High School graduation picture from my the graduation breakfast on the final day of school. This was one of my best friends, Ashley Cross. My freshmen year in college she was in a very tragic vehicle accident where she lost her life. I think of her often though and wonder today where she would be if she were still on Earth.

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