Since my last post, I admit I’ve been a little confused on how to progress with this blog. “Mission: Dietitian” was intended to outline my progress through the dietetic internship and becoming a Registered Dietitian. Well…it’s over, I’m an RD, now what?
Over the past couple months I’ve been getting quite a bit of feedback from readers, mostly emails from future RDs/interns asking about my experiences and applications (I try to get back to people as best I can, apologies if my responses are delayed!) Plus my blog views have risen exponentially since I wrote posts about studying for the RD exam and finding a job. I’m so happy I can help fill the internet void that I encountered when I googled “tips for studying for RD exam”.
Bear with me while I make a few changes to the blog, such as changing my header (I haven’t been a dietetic intern for quite a while now!) and shifting the focus from becoming an RD to actually being a new RD. Starting my full-time career has definitely kept me busy but I feel confident I can start blogging regularly once again. I hope that my posts continue to inspire and help potential dietetic students, interns, and other new dietitians!
As always, I welcome your feedback, suggestions, and questions via comments on the blog. Is there anything about becoming/being a dietitian you’d like me to write about in particular?
I’m happy to report that I have officially started my career earlier this month as a clinical dietitian at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, TX, part of HCA Healthcare!
I moved down here early August and my main priority was preparing for the RD exam- but I still devoted quite a bit of time to job searching too. There did not seem to be many RD jobs in the area; while El Paso is a large city, it is pretty isolated. There’s not really any nearby towns or counties to look for a job, unlike where I used to live outside of Washington, DC.
Luckily, after about two months of active searching, I was offered a position at Del Sol, which has been fantastic. I’m on a team with four other dietitians for the 350-bed hospital. For now, I am overseeing telemetry (cardiac, mostly) and part of the surgical unit. I’m thankful to have great coworkers who have been so helpful in training me!
Finding a job took time and energy, but it is possible! Here are some tips I found helpful:
- Utilize job search engines- Indeed is my favorite, and it’s how I found my current job! Consider nutritionjobs.com, CareerBuilder, DietianCentral, and foodandnutritionjobs.com. I’m sure there are a ton more out there, but these helped me. On some, you can even sign up for job alerts in your area.
- Network!! I joined my local dietetic association, El Paso Dietetic Association, and brought my contact info. When I made a connection I followed up with them shortly after. Making a good impression to someone, who can pass on your name, could really come in handy. Plus I met a ton of nice RDs in the area!
- Do your research. Look up hospitals, community nutrition centers, and other places that employ RDs and search their websites for any job vacancies, or just contact them directly. You never know! Make sure to check government job listings for positions such as WIC dietitians or nutrition educators.
- Consider telecommuting. Because I am pretty isolated, I opened myself up to an online position, such as a social networking manager, web content contributor, blogger, etc. Craig’s List is surprisingly useful for this kind of job, as well as the LinkedIn job search; however I didn’t always see these types of jobs on the traditional job search engines.
- Put yourself out there. True story: a communications professional from a healthcare company on the other side of the country found THIS blog. He then contacted me to potentially blog for their company! I’ve also networked with RDs and healthcare professionals via Twitter, including an El Paso RD who invited me to join the El Paso Dietetic Association.
- Use your resources. Ask your contacts if they know anyone in the city you plan to work, and if they can pass on your name and contact information. Because I did my internship in the DC and Baltimore areas, I made a TON of contacts that may have been helpful in finding a job. Moving across the country? Not so helpful…
- Use ADA (Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics). Dietetic Practice Groups (found on eatright.org) and their listserves can seriously come in handy. One of the other dietetic interns in my group knew I was moving to El Paso, and she received an email over the listserve advertising for a job out here. She forwarded it to me, and although it didn’t turn out to be a job I was qualified for, I still made a contact with that person and kept in touch.
- Don’t give up! I applied to jobs I wasn’t necessarily qualified for or didn’t think I stood a chance of getting. I know I was turned down for one job because I didn’t speak Spanish, but it was still good practice, and I established more contacts.
**Also: if you are a new RD, don’t be discouraged by older RDs with masters degrees, etc. Market yourself as enthusiastic, easily trained, and equipped with the latest nutritional knowledge. Plus, you’re probably a lot cheaper to hire than a more decorated RD, so chin up!
It may not be a fun process, but when you land a job, it feels so great! Does anyone else have any job-finding tips they’d like to share?
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Tagged dietetic internship, dietitian, El Paso, employment, hiring dietitians, job finding tips, job search, network, nutrition, nutrition jobs, RD exam, RD job
I am happy to report that after years of developing my career goals, 5 years of intense education, and months of studying, I have taken the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) RD-exam and passed, making me a Registered Dietitian at last!!
The test itself was a challenge, I thought. It didn’t help that the testing center had a few problems, delaying my start about 30 minutes while they had to make some phone calls to get it running. I was sitting there, feeling my blood pressure skyrocket- I was so scared that they’d come out and tell me to come back another day. I just wanted to get it over with finally! At that point I was just excited to take the test and move on with my life!
There was a quick video tutorial that kind of brought me back down to reality before the actual questions started. It was nice to get a quick overview of the system and definitely helped me refocus before the test. Then I began!
There is a minimum of 125 multiple choice questions, and a maximum of 145. If you’re definitely going to pass or fail at 125 I believe they cut you off, however if there’s a chance you could pass with more questions, they will extend it. As I pressed submit at question 125, I held my breath.
Then the screen went blank, and I was taken to a survey. I hardly read the survey however because I wanted to get to my results! Thankfully I passed- my score was over the required “25” with some room to spare (still not sure how they really calculate that). I got a good mix of foodservice/management as well as nutritional sciences/clinical. I felt like I was guessing on quite a bit of questions, but I suppose my clinical and managerial judgement was good! The review materials and practice questions I had definitely came in handy. My next post will be about what I used to study and prepare for the RD exam.
Please let me know if you have any questions about what the exam was like, or if you have anything to add about the testing experience!
Interning at the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) is going great, I’m really enjoying it (especially because it is so timely!) With my background at the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC), I already knew that I really enjoy consumer education and web-based nutrition communication.
However, I also love the whole nutrition policy part of USDA. To think that you could influence the way America learns about healthy eating is really great. I told my preceptor: it will be so cool in the coming years, no matter what I do as a Registered Dietitian, the Dietary Guidelines and Food Guide Pyramid will always be a large part of dietetics. So a couple years from now, I can look back and see how some of my work has helped- even with my little five week rotation. Speaking of, the past three and a half weeks has flown by. I can’t believe next week is our last! Then, I’m back to community nutrition, interning at Moveable Feast in Baltimore, MD.
Until then, I’m working on my abstract and poster presentation for the Maryland Dietetic Association, and I’ve already started preparing for the RD exam a little bit. I know…it’s four months away…but I don’t want to forget anything I learned in clinical at the beginning of the internship!