As I start the dietetics program in August, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the “why” behind my choice to go into this field! Oftentimes when I tell people I am a dietetics major, they are confused or uncertain what that entails. Explaining some reasons for choosing dietetics may clear up some of that uncertainty and hopefully inspire others to consider choosing nutrition as a career!
Since middle school, I knew I wanted to go into healthcare. At first I thought I wanted to be a dermatologist, but soon realized medical school was not the path for me. The summer before my senior year of high school, I was dead-set on physical therapy and got a job as an outpatient therapy aide, which had me cleaning and stocking equipment at a clinic here in Columbia. But being exposed to therapists and what they did on a daily basis caused me to change my mind. I realized I did not want as much direct patient contact. During senior year I became interested in nutrition and started looking into options. I had originally thought I wanted to be both a physical therapist and a dietitian (oh, my naïve high school mind!). Once I learned about Mizzou’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics, I realized that becoming a dietitian was more demanding than I expected, causing me to focus on earning one degree instead of two. When I found out I could get my bachelor’s and master’s degree in 5 years, I was hooked! I applied to Mizzou and the rest is history.
Now that you know a little bit more of my background, let’s talk about some of the reasons dietetics stuck out to me. As someone who wants to work in healthcare but doesn’t love some of the icky parts that can come with, I struggled to find options where I could have interpersonal patient contact while keeping physical contact to a minimum. In dietetics, I could work in a hospital environment with critically ill patients while also catering to my more office-minded side. A second reason for my interest in this career is the flexibility. Dietitians can work anywhere (think schools, grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes, private practice, etc) and have the ability to be salaried or hourly workers. I could easily work part-time hours when I have a family. Lastly, I take a strong interest in dietetics because I find the science of nutrition fascinating, as well as the effect food has on our physical and mental health. As a dancer and a Jazzercise instructor, I know that I perform better when I am fueling myself well, and I want to help others find a balance that works similarly for them.
I am ecstatic to be starting the dietetics program this August, and can’t wait to graduate in a few years and start practicing as a registered dietitian. If you are interested in nutrition and want to make it a career, I highly encourage you to look into dietetics. Nutrition is still a young science, and we are learning more about it every single day. I look forward to being a part of that growth in knowledge, and who knows, maybe even spearheading advances in nutrition science someday!