This week, instead of looking back on my storied college career, I’ll be looking forward to the future. As you might know, I have been a dietetics major since first setting foot on the Fontbonne campus, and I’ve never once wanted to deviate from that path. Although most people have a general concept of what a dietitian is, I often get asked what a dietitian does, and of course specifically what I want to do.
There are three major areas of dietetics: Clinical, Food Service, and Community. The majority of dietitians are clinically based, which means they work in an outpatient facility or hospital and plan diets for the sick. People with kidney failure have special dietary needs that are different than people with liver disease, and so on. It’s a very critical job, as a wrong diet could easily do great harm to someone. Food Service dietitians work in places like nursing homes, cafeterias, and restaurants. The concept is similar, but they mostly plan meals in large quantities for a specific population of people. For example, school districts often hire a dietitian to help plan menus that meet the government’s standards for a free/reduced price student lunch. Finally, there are dietitians that work out in the community. This area is more diverse, and includes such places as fitness centers, grocery stores, public health clinics, food banks, and even private practice. Their work is mostly to cater to the needs of individuals who seek their help, but they also run events that target the community as a whole, such as health fairs or screenings.
Personally, I want to work out in the community. I really like the idea of helping people, and I like the flexibility and diversity of working with the general public. I could see myself working in a health foods store, helping people pick out groceries that fit their needs, or planning meals at a fitness center or spa. Perhaps one day I’ll even open my own practice. It would be cool to specialize in a naturalistic approach that centers on vegan and vegetarian eating, but I’m flexible. Also, I still have a lot to learn from my experience as a dietetic intern next year (an additional requirement one needs in order to become an official Registered Dietitian), and I am keeping my options and my mind wide open. Regardless, I’m looking forward to a career full of helping people to improve their health through eating good food!
Last week I started my internship at Valley Park School District. You might be wondering what am I doing there?… Well, I am a graduate student doing my dietetic internship in several sites. Right now, I am in the school system overseeing how they run their food service.
As I approach my final year at Fontbonne, I have to start thinking about my life post-grad. Like most dietetics majors, I’ll be applying for an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics-certified internship this spring and then preparing to take my exam to become a Registered Dietitian. The internship selection process is notoriously cutthroat, so it helps to do everything you can to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the applicants.
One thing a lot of internship sites look for is a GRE score. The GRE (which stands for “Graduate Record Examination”) is a test that many people take when they complete their undergrad and want to start their Master’s degree. It’s basically like taking the ACT or SAT all over again. So guess what I did this past Wednesday? That’s right – I was taking the GRE!
It really wasn’t that bad. The hardest part for me was the math, which isn’t even conceptually hard (supposedly it’s all high school stuff) – but the questions can be tricky! And I did find myself a bit crunched for time during those sections as well. Not that the test was short by any means; the whole process takes between 4 and 5 hours.
If you’ll be taking the GRE at some point, the most important thing to do is find your weak spots (whether they are math, English, or writing-related) and review. Doing some practice under time restrictions would be helpful as well. But the bottom line is that this is a standardized test. What do standardized tests do? Test how well you can take a standardized test. So just relax and do the best you can!