Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What RDs Do: Jill Merkel MS, RD, CSSD, LD

JILL MERKEL
NUTRITION FOR ENDURANCE 
RUN.EAT.SNAP.
for something nutrishus


Jill found the series on Instagram and was eager to take part. Her work with athletes and thoughts for the future are ones that I hope will trickle into Canada as well, as our colleges don't seem to have full time dietitians yet (there's an opportunity there!). I can totally relate and I agree with Jill, that I often feel judged about my food choices because of what I do for a living, yet most (if not all) dietitians I know love food and things like wine and chocolate too!

Why did you become a RD?

My journey into dietetics began in 2009 when I started running. I began training for my first half marathon and naturally started to make nutritional changes as well. I was surprised at how much better I felt and how my running improved from making a few simple nutritional changes. I also lost 20 pounds without trying and I thought “hmm… maybe I should go back to school to become a dietitian.” So that’s what I did!

What area of dietetics do you work in?

Currently, I am in private practice in Nashville, TN and virtually – Nutrition for Endurance - specializing in sports nutrition and weight management. I also teach an online sports nutrition course for the university back home, do some consulting work and manage my blog RunEatSnap.

How would you explain what you do?

In my private practice, I see clients individually to assess their current nutritional habits and see where we can make some positive changes. I am a big believer in making small changes that are sustainable and realistic versus trying to make a complete overhaul overnight. I also do group presentations for sports teams, clubs, and organizations. 

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

Every day is different. I see clients, write blog posts and social media posts, manage my online course, and whatever else comes my way! 

What has been your career path?

Once I decided to go back to school to study nutrition, I did a 2-year undergrad degree in dietetics back home and then I did the Coordinated Master’s Program at the University of Utah because they had a sports nutrition emphasis, which is what I wanted! While at Utah, I spent a year working with the sports dietitian and the collegiate athletes. Following graduation, I did a sports nutrition fellowship at the University of Virginia working with their collegiate athletes. After that, I moved to Minneapolis to work for EXOS at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine where I worked with athletes of all ages including youth, high school, collegiate, professional, and adult “weekend warriors”. I loved the variety of clients and athletes I saw in that job but ultimately decided I wanted to be closer to home so I moved to Nashville, TN and joined the crazy awesome entrepreneurial world! 

What advanced education or special training do you have?

I have a master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis in sports nutrition. I am also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), which is a credential for dietitians with a minimum of two years of professional practice experience and 1500 hours of specialty practice experience in sports nutrition. 

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

Sports nutrition is a rapidly growing field now with more than 70 colleges having at least one full-time sports dietitian and 17 NFL teams now have a full-time sports dietitian. It is definitely becoming a more well-known and respected part of athletics, which is great! In 5 years, I anticipate even more colleges, professional teams, clubs, and even high schools will have a sports dietitian on staff in some capacity. As it continues to grow in those settings, I believe more adult “weekend warriors” will also realize the importance of nutrition in their athletic training and for overall health. 

What would you like people to know about RDs?

Becoming an RD takes years of education, hours of internship practice, passing a board exam, continuing education, and often specialty credentials such as the CSSD. It is a very competitive field with less than 50% match rate for dietetics internships across the country right now. 

What are challenges you encounter as a RD?

Just today, I was asked “are you a health coach?” I think the main challenge as an RD right now is people don’t know or understand the difference between RDs and “nutritionists” or health coaches. Also, people think I am going to judge what they are eating, when, in reality, I feel like I am judged more often for what I am eating because I am a dietitian. I love chocolate! 

What do people think that you do for a living?

Honestly now that I work for myself, I think people have even less of a clue about what I do. I recently wrote a blog post – What Does a Sports Dietitian Do? to hopefully provide some clarity. 

What are you passionate about in dietetics?

Like I said before, I got into nutrition when I began running and made some nutritional changes to support that. I am passionate about helping others realize that small changes over time can lead to big results!

More about Jill:

Instagram: RunEatSnap
Facebook: RunEatSnap
Twitter: @RunEatSnap


Thanks Jill! Find out more about What RDsDo.

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What RDs Do: Andrea Falcone RD, FIS, PTS

ANDREA FALCONE
PRIVATE PRACTICE 
& CERTIFIED FITNESS PROFESSIONAL
for something nutrishus


I was able to meet Andrea IRL at last year's DC conference and I know she was excited to be part of this series. As with other interviews, I often feel like I've 'found my people' when I get to know more and more dietitians. Andrea and I are both passionate about working with students, helping people make informed choices and supporting them to be their best self. Her cooking camps look and sound fabulous and are a great way to encourage healthy eating by reducing barriers related to food skills. As a busy person, she also understand the importance of balance and finding time for herself, something she shares with her clients too.

Why did you become a RD?

There are so many “why’s”. But I feel the most important one was when I started learning about the science of food, how food digests in our bodies, what our bodies need to function optimally and best. I endured many years of bullying when I was young, which led me down the path of striving to “look” like the models and thin people, trying diet after diet, failing and then developing an eating disorder. This was something I hid from everyone, getting myself to a “weight” and “image” which I then worked to maintain. Until I started to learn about the science of food and nutrition, actually realizing the harm I was putting myself through. When I started to learn all of this, things started to click – yes I went through a long journey of healing my mind and body, but I eventually got there. As we continue to live in a society dominated by image and diets, I strive to educate people to not only love themselves and the bodies they were given, but also to understand food and what each person needs for their personal health.

What area of dietetics do you work in?


Private Practice

How would you explain what you do?


I have the privilege of meshing a few different ingredients of private practice which includes running Cooking Camps for students during their winter, spring and summer breaks, conducting group presentations for schools, parent council groups, and corporate affiliates, writing and recipe development for a number of outlets, including online and print magazines, and seeing clients one-on-one. I also co-chair the Dietitians of Canada Consulting Dietitians Network which is a great opportunity to support other private practice RDs and liase with DC.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

I teach fitness classes in the morning at 6AM before my dietitian job begins! Throughout the week I see clients 1-2 days for one-on-one counseling, and then based on the week I will either have 1-2 presentations, prepare a written article, develop recipes, or work on the program development for my camps which are well distributed throughout the year.

What has been your career path?

I have been in the nutrition and fitness industry for 10+ years, prior to becoming a dietitian, working as a “nutritionist” at a wellness clinic, in research and as a fitness instructor. Following internship I worked for the Loblaw’s Dietitian program, which also steered me towards program development and training. I always dabbled in private practice, seeing clients on the side during my free time. I then spent 1.5 years managing a community diabetes clinic which was very fulfilling from a management role. I missed being a dietitian too much, so continued with my private practice, and worked part time with a Family Health Team until I felt there were too few hours in the day to complete everything, pursue my other goals, and take care of my mental health. I left the Family Health Team in October 2015 and have been working in private practice ever since!

What advanced education or special training do you have?

I am Food Skills Certified and have completed many hours in Children’s Behaviour and Development, which allows me to support their learning. I am also a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor.

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

The food world changes at an exponential rate. Dietitians are so profound in the work they do and the support they give to clients. As we continue to make headway in making this information more known to the public, the demand for dietitians to serve the nutrition and food worlds is increasing, which I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of through many facets. I see this more and more, and I truly believe dietitians will gain on this momentum and be able to educate the public in all areas of nutrition information.

What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?

We work for our clients’ best interest, which means no one is the same and each individual may just get a different “prescription” of nutrition information. In media and writing, I know my primary goal is to give all of the information in the right fashion, which means digging deeper into the headlines, and making sure people are informed about how to make the best choices for their health.

What are challenges you encounter as a RD?

Competing with the easy quick-fixes and the celebrity-driven diets that many people fall privy to, often resulting in yet another failed attempt. Then, sometimes, having to change people’s mindset and support their learning for what is actually true!

What do people think that you do for a living?

Teach, inspire, motivate, educate, develop recipes, write, garden and workout!

What are you passionate about in dietetics?

Finding the simple solutions that will support the public and help them realize they can cook more from scratch, create their own healthy meals and still be able to balance all of life’s other commitments.

What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?

I truly feel our professionalism around serving clients (client confidentiality), conducting research, speaking to or with others is what makes us differ. I find that more and more dietitians are still seeking the research and evidence as a first line of support for anyone, but continue to be open to other practices, protocols, and the grey area of practice.

What is your favourite meal?

Simply – arugula with tuna, cheese and avocado! I could eat that every day. Comfort, I love my Cauliflower Mac and Cheese!

What tip(s) would you give to our readers?

Be you – whatever or whoever you may be! Be your best self by giving to yourself and then give your gift to the world!

More about Andrea:

Website: AndreaFalcone.ca
Facebook: Andrea Falcone
Instagram: @andreafalcone.rd
Twitter: @AndreaFalconeRD
Podcast: Healthy You


Thanks Andrea! Find out more about What RDsDo.

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Where are they now? 10 years later...

I recently met up with 6 of my undergrad classmates as they were celebrating their 10 year reunion. I was always the 'odd' one out - I joined them a semester late due to Team Canada volleyball training and I didn't intern with them, due to Team Canada training and heading to Finland to play pro volleyball. So, I won't actually have my 10 year reunion until 2020 based on when I went back to complete my internship year. I was definitely part of the group thought and was happy to catch up with them.


Over supper I couldn't help thinking about a blog post. I spend some of my time sharing dietitian stories and information about our diverse background and varied careers with the #WhatRDsDo interview series. There I was, in a room with my fellow Bachelor of Science in Nutrition classmates and we were all doing different things, and spread across the country. I decided to reach out to the whole group and see who would be willing to share what area of dietetics they work in or if they no longer work as a dietitian. This is what I have so far from our class of 23 (or 22 + me) and yes, we did have two male counterparts!

Heather Millar: "I work as a clinical dietitian in the area of inpatient oncology and stem cell transplant with adult patients. Congrats on the blog, you've put so much work into it."

Robin Hartl: "After just about 10 years of working in as a community dietitian in food security and child development, I am now working as a clinical dietitian in long term care."

Sabrina Bovee: "I'm not actively working as a dietitian in the region currently - trying to impact dietetics from a different approach as a LTC (long term care) manager."

Alana Melsted: "I am working as a Rural Community Dietitian :)"

Melissa Lachapelle: "I like to say I am in the business of feeding and growing babies ;) I work in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Inpatient pediatrics and Outpatient pediatrics. I represent my zone on multiple provincial networks and provide nurse and dietitian training in neonatal and pediatric nutrition. I enjoy the diversity within my job and am privileged to be part of a child's care from life's first breath into childhood."

Cheryl Krug: "After 9 years in pediatric weight management, I have recently started working with one of our primary care networks here in Edmonton as an outpatient dietitian. I see anything and everything....but the majority of what I do is chronic disease management. "

Brendine Partyka: "I've worked as a bariatric dietitian at the Kingston Bariatric Centre of Excellence for the past 5 years. We support & counsel on clinical nutrition and cognitive behavioural change pre & post bariatric surgery (VSG, RNY). Our program is part of the Ontario Bariatric Network, a growing collection of centres targeting obesity as a chronic disease. I'm also pursuing a masters in sociocultural studies of health, with intention to unite my background of dietetics and yoga studies."

Chelsey Matson: "I've been working for the last ten years as a Diabetes Educator at an outpatient clinic in Calgary. Most of my work is as an insulin pump trainer."

Kimberly Engel: "I worked for a few years with a non-profit organization focusing on food security and working mostly with immigrant populations. I then took a position with First Nations and Inuit Health- Health Canada, first as a Health Services Manager and then as the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative Dietitian. I am now working as the Community Dietitian for two rural Primary Health Care networks within Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region."

Stephen Wan: "I am a Director of Operations in the primary healthcare system in Calgary, Alberta. With this role, I work towards enhancing access to integrated and comprehensive primary care, with focus on improving patient experience and health outcomes. Prior to this role, I have been directly involved in dietetics and management in the last 9 years of my career."

Tracy Sentes: "I have yet to hold a legit 'RD' role. I've done a few things but most recently I've been a Project Coordinator with a bilingual early years health promotion initiative called Healthy Start. I provide free training and resources to early childhood educators and teachers in licensed child care centres, pre-k programs, head starts and on-reserve daycares to help increase healthy eating and physical activity in the centre/classroom throughout Saskatchewan. Although I've been kind of removed from dietetics, one way I stay connected is by being a part of SDA (Saskatchewan Dietitians Association) through the Professional Standards Committee."

Heidi McClellan: "I am currently working casual at the Heart and Stroke Clinic at St. Mary's Hospital in Camrose, Alberta. I feel very lucky to be part of a team of very dedicated and compassionate cardiologists, neurologists, nurses, dietitians, and a pharmacist who all work closely together to educate and improve the health of clients who have CHF or have recently had a stroke."

Emily Ward Jones: "I have been working for the Cypress Health region for the past 9 years. I am currently employed with primary health as an outpatient dietitian. I am based out of Gull Lake and cover a few rural communities. Prior to this I was a clinical dietitian at Cypress Regional Hospital."

And who knows where we'll all be in another 10 years! Congratulations on all your successes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What RDs Do: Carolyn Berry BSc., RD

CAROLYN BERRY
BERRY NOURISHED
for something nutrishus


Carolyn seems to have found her spot in the dietetics world, although we know that careers evolve and change as we do - which is why we're lucky that our profession has a variety of areas to explore. I love her daily work goal and will be trying her overnight oat recipe (as we enjoy them too!). For those who like atypical days along with variety in their tasks, dietetics seems to be the way to go. I continue to be amazed at what we do in a day or even a week. Carolyn also brings up the notion of taste, as we know that's important along with the enjoyment of food.

Why did you become a RD?

I always knew that I wanted to be in a profession where I could help people. That, combined with an interest in food, nutrition and fitness led me down this career path. I realized this during my first year of college. What I didn’t realize was how science focused a degree in Dietetics is. That part nearly scared me off, as I struggled with many of these courses, but in the end, it made me stronger, and I’m sure glad I stuck through it.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

A bit of everything:
  • Berry nourished is my private practice. I counsel individuals and couples, mainly in the areas of weight loss and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I also provide lunch and learn presentations for various businesses.
  • I am a diabetes educator in an outpatient diabetes clinic with Fraser Health. I counsel patients 1:1 and teach education classes.
  • I recently started a cooking class program within the Shapedown BC program. The program teaches families how to make healthy lifestyle changes, and I focus on the cooking aspect.
  • I counsel executive clients at Medisys Preventive Health Clinic located in Downtown Vancouver.
  • I lead nutrition tours at Save-On-Foods.
  • I work with clients over the phone, as well as provide lunch and learn presentations for NDC - Nutrition at Work.
  • I regularly contribute recipes and nutrition articles for Nourished Babe, a prenatal nutrition App.
  • I am a contributing writer for Huffington Post BC.

How would you explain what you do?

Though my day-to-day tasks vary greatly depending on where I am working, my goal is always the same: to motivate, excite and empower all types of people to make the best decisions to improve their health. I aim to provide informative and practical nutrition advice with my food-first approach to health. I connect with people through food, and strongly believe that food should be both healthful and delicious.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

There is no such thing a ‘typical’ day or week for me. With all of the different roles I have, I spend a fair amount of time building my schedule for the next few months. For example, some days I will work only at the hospital, and other days I will work at the clinic, present a lunch and learn, and see a few private clients all in one day. I also spend a fair amount of time working from home, which usually involves writing up assessments for clients, writing articles, or phoning my tele-clients.

What has been your career path?

I have been working as an RD for almost 4 years now. I started my blog Berry Nourished (formerly Wealth of Health) 5 years ago during my internship. I knew right away that I had a passion for cooking, writing, and food photography. However, my first official job was working as an inpatient and outpatient clinical dietitian for Fraser Health. As great of an experience as this role was, I realized early on that it wasn’t right for me. I didn’t feel energized. So I made a few changes over the years and started seeking out other areas of work. As busy and hectic as my schedule is currently, I feel energized at the end of most work days, and most importantly, I have an incredible amount of job satisfaction.

What advanced education or special training do you have?

I’m currently working towards getting my CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) designation. This involves obtaining at least 800 hours of experience working in diabetes education, and writing the Canadian Diabetes Educator’s Board (CDECB) exam. I write the exam this May.

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

Ideally, the term “dietitian” will be recognized by the public as the profession to seek out for the best and most sound nutrition advice. We have come leaps and bounds promoting our profession, however we still have a long way to go. Continuing to make media appearances on tv and the radio; writing articles for various publications, and using social media as a means to communicate our expert opinions will continue to be important.

What is your favourite meal?

Overnight oatmeal – the perfect balance of protein, fibre and fruit! This has been my breakfast almost every morning for the past 3 years, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

More about Carolyn:

Website: www.berrynourished.com
Facebook: Berry Nourished
Twitter: @berrynourished
Pinterest: Carolyn Berry



Thanks Carolyn! Find out more about What RDsDo.

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What RDs Do: Deanna Denny, RDN

DEANNA DENNY
HOME MODALITY DIALYSIS
for something nutrishus


We continue to see similarities in the personality types that are drawn to dietetics. Like many/most, Deanna is passionate about helping others and has a variety of skills to offer. It's also unique to continue to see the dietitians that are entering private practice. I don't think there are many other professions where individuals spend their 'off' hours working in their area of expertise - we really must love what we do! From dialysis to counselling, teaching classes and working in the grocery store, Deanna is making her impact to help slow disease progression.

Why did you become a RD?


I became a registered dietitian because I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives. I quickly realized at a young age that what you eat is really a reflection of what you are and what problems you will encounter in your lifetime. My dad is a type II diabetic who has had a minor heart attack in the past. I helped with the influence from other members of my family to make sure that his disease progression slows down through the use of good foods. I was so happy to have graduated from an esteemed RD program and be able to have this knowledge of what healthy eating really entails to better my lifestyle and many others including my dad.

What area of dietetics do you work in?

I currently work by day at a dialysis clinic that focuses on home modalities. It's one of the few stand alone home programs within the state of Michigan. I love my job and being able to develop close relationships with the patients and be able to impact their diet in meaningful ways. By night I help counsel clients 1:1 at a holistic gym that values all the key components to wellness. I also help teach Cooking Matters classes to areas of need. On the weekends I help out at a local grocery store with another RD with the support from the Wellness Foundation of that town.

How would you explain what you do?

As a registered dietitian I impact what people eat on a daily basis. I help them make more informed choices of what is actually good for their body. This is so key in this world where educational resources about diet by the media can be so skewed so I am able to help people decipher what is really right for them.

What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?

I would say my week is never typical. I am always keeping my schedule full as most other RDs do, so for me it is always an adventure. I am always meeting new patients and clients. It is exciting for me to be able to immerse myself in their world and figure out an approach that will work for them to get them to that best healthy self they envision.

What has been your career path?

I started off working in foodservice management, even before I graduated and passed my RD exam. After that point I was still working in foodservice management. I helped manage a hospital kitchen, cafe and coffee shop. While doing this I was being trained on how to be a clinical dietitian in a hospital. Then I transitioned into an opening at a nursing home where I practiced over 2 years. I wanted a change from that so I took an opportunity at an incenter dialysis clinic. In that opportunity, I helped out over 13 clinics, which gave me experience in every single modality of dialysis. Then a brand new clinic opened up that specialized in home modalities and I have been there for the last three years. I have now started dabbling in more private practice consultant work on the side and probably will continue to do this for as long as I can.

What advanced education or special training do you have?

The dialysis company I work for really focuses on creating more leaders within its community so I have recently completed their 6 month leadership program.

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

In 5 years I see the industry continuing to grow as more individuals continue to make poor lifestyle choices and have more complex chronic diseases. The demand for RDs will continue to grow and they will be more valued as experts in nutrition that help others make better lifestyles for themselves, while slowing disease progression down.

What would you like people to know about RDs?

Registered Dietitians are the true nutrition experts within the community. They spend years learning and studying nutrition. They then have to obtain practice clinical hours and pass a certification exam. They have rigorous requirements so if you are thinking of seeing someone about altering your diet and food intake make sure that person is a registered dietitian.

What is your favourite meal?

There is nothing better than eggplant parmesan, my absolute favorite.

More about Deanna:

Twitter: @DeannaDennyRD
Instagram: @ddennyRD


Thanks Deanna! Find out more about What RDsDo.

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