Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What RDs Do: Amanda Hamel, RD

for something nutrishus

Intuition brought Amanda to the field of dietetics and she now works with clients of all kinds and in a variety of settings including right in the grocery store.  She is getting into the world of private practice, which more and more dietitians seem to be doing - hopefully it will help with the access that she mentions below. 

Why did you become a RD?

Have you ever had that ‘fish-out-of-water’ feeling? Imagine the feeling of being in a room full of people, and all the lights are off except for one hot, glaring spotlight that’s pointed straight down on you. That was me in my first semester of Pharmacy. I remember so clearly being in a packed classroom, with many of whom were close friends, yet I felt like I simply did not belong. It was a crushing, almost out-of-body experience, and I knew in that moment that something wasn’t right. I couldn’t tell you why or what, but my gut (always trust your gut!) was telling me that I needed to be somewhere else.

That ‘somewhere else’ was in the field of nutrition and dietetics! I always had a keen interest in health, wellness and disease-prevention, so I took a risk, made the switch, and have never looked back. Side note: I recently cleaned out my old notes from high school and found a career report I did in Grade 10 on none other than ‘The Dietitian’! It was a sign.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

Like many dietitians I know, I wear many ‘hats’. I currently work in an outpatient hemodialysis and chronic kidney disease clinic. Once per month, I travel to a rural northern reserve, where I practice LTC (long term care) nutrition at their beautiful PCH (personal care home). I also have a contract position as a Nutrition Tour Leader with Save-On-Foods grocery stores. I am also dabbling in private practice on the side, just to shake things up a bit. I love that all of my current jobs cover different aspects of the nutrition continuum, enabling me to maintain and learn new skills!

How would you explain what you do?

Because I work in many different areas, my ‘go-to’ statement is, “I help people of all ages make healthy and balanced food choices”.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

In a nutshell - Renal dietitian by day, Nutrition Tour Leader by night! I work with an interdisciplinary team on the hospital dialysis unit and counsel patients one-on-one at the bedside. When I conduct grocery tours, I show people how to shop for healthy food to fit their lifestyle needs. Sprinkle in a few private practice clients, and I’d say it’s a healthy mix!

What has been your career path?

Another risk I took was moving far north, away from my friends and family, straight out of internship for a full-time, permanent position. I lived and worked for over two years in northern Manitoba in LTC clinical nutrition and menu planning for the regional food service system. I learned a lot and quickly embraced the small community feel. To rejoin the fam, I moved back to Winnipeg to continue working in a number of term positions in LTC. Fast-forward to today, and I have a part-time permanent renal dietitian position, along with my contract positions.

What advanced education or special training do you have?

Since LTC nutrition is near and dear to my heart, I have special training in dementia care called P.I.E.C.E.S training.

In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?

Like many dietitians, I dream of walking down the city streets and seeing stand-alone dietitian offices. I hope that people can have improved access to our services. I’d also like to see a greater focus on mental health promotion, as I think it greatly affects many people’s overall health and nutrition outcomes.

What are you passionate about in dietetics?

I love meeting new people and learning about their own food traditions and cuisines. While I am passionate about helping people make healthy and balanced food choices right in the grocery aisle, I believe there is so much to be learned from others. It’s one of the many reasons why I love being a dietitian!

What is your favourite meal?

Shakshuka. It’s fun to say and fun to make! You can throw in leftover items from your fridge for a quick and healthy meal.

Anything else you’d like to add that you feel would be valuable:

Stay positive and open-minded, as you never know where it may take you one day!

More about Amanda:

Twitter: @AmandaHamelRD
Instagram: @amandahamelrd

Thanks Amanda! Find out more about What RDsDo.

If you're a dietitian that would like to be featured, email me for the details!