What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day in my job working in long term care can vary from day to day. At the beginning of the day I like to set my priorities for the day. I participate in management meetings each day where I am updated on issues related to residents. In a typical day I may visit new residents, follow-up on residents with nutritional concerns, participate in care conferences or end of life meetings, make phone calls to family members, and collaborate with speech language pathologists related to modified diet textures.
In private practice a typical day involves completing initial nutrition assessments with clients, follow-ups, and working on individualized meal plans. I may counsel the client individually or families may also participate.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The most enjoyable parts of my jobs are that there is so much variation in what I do. In my role as a dietitian I may work individually, in a group setting with other professionals, or with family members and residents. There is also a large variety in the topics that individuals need nutrition counseling and intervention.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
At times it can be difficult to manage my time and get everything accomplished that I have set out to do. To help manage my time efficiently, I often make lists to help me with prioritizing my goals.
Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from McGill University. The internships that I completed prior to my graduation were in a variety of settings. There were components for Clinical Nutrition, Food Services Management, and Community Nutrition. I completed internships at St. Catherines Booth Rehabilitation Hospital, Richardson Rehabilitation Centre, Montreal General Hospital in Internal Medicine and Oncology, Dawson College and St. Andrew’s, Father-Dowd and St. Margaret’s Long Term Care Centres.
The internships and education that I completed were a large contributing factor to my success in landing a job in dietetics. McGill’s dietetics program is well recognized throughout Canada. The integrated internship program also was very helpful towards my success in this career. Having hands-on experience as I was completing my nutrition classes was very fundamental to my learning experience. My internships also prepared me for the responsibilities that I would have on the job. The last internship that I completed was with a dietitian that worked at three personal care homes. This was a large selling point for my job where I work within two personal care homes as I had experience with this population and managing my time between different facilities.
Did you experience any obstacles or challenges on your path? How did you overcome these obstacles or challenges?:
There were definitely a few obstacles that I had along my path of becoming a registered dietitian. It was not all-smooth sailing along the way.
I completed my freshman year in Ste. Anne de Bellevue in Quebec on the MacDonald Campus. When I first moved to Quebec I was seventeen years old and away from my family for the first time. There definitely was an adjustment period while I was settling into university life. At some points I did feel very home sick. I no longer had my mom to help me with my laundry, and cook meals, or my family for hands-on support. Looking back it was a great experience though as it helped me become an independent individual.
During the third year of the dietetics program I faced a very personal challenge. In December of 2008, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My mom had requested that I continue with my studies in Quebec while she had her treatments in Winnipeg. At times I found it hard to focus on my studies as I felt that I should be at home in Winnipeg looking after my mom. As I completed my third year of studies I kept mindful that [completing my studies] was helping my mom get through her battle with cancer.
My last major challenge that I had was landing a job once I moved back home to Winnipeg after my studies. In some ways I did not have the connections that the graduates did that completed the program in Manitoba. I did not know whom to contact for job opportunities. There was some footwork and research that was required in order to know who to contact and where to look for opportunities. There is a program called Taking Charge that helps women find job opportunities, work on their resumes, and interview skills that was very vital to my success. I owe a lot of my success towards my family and friends for providing ongoing support.
Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?
My greatest influence that set me on this path was my mom. She encouraged me to pursue a university education and throughout my life taught me the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. This largely contributed towards my interest in a career in dietetics.
What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?
Networking skills are very vital towards landing a job. This can be gained through volunteer work, job shadowing, and internships.
How does your job make a difference?
My job in long-term care makes a significant difference towards increasing the quality of life of residents. In my role as a dietitian I work towards reducing choking and aspiration risk, weight loss, pressure ulcers, and complications in chronic diseases with nutrition management.
My role as a private practice dietitian helps individuals work towards their personalized nutrition goals. Whether it be diabetes management, weight management, managing various chronic diseases, or just providing information on healthy eating.
How do you use science, math and technology in your job?
There are constantly updates with nutrition related to science. I keep up-to date with science by reading articles, listening to webinars, or attending education sessions. My math skills are helpful for completing nutrition calculations for the patients that I work with. Technology is also a vital part of my work as a large portion of charting is becoming electronic and is an asset with helping me to communicate effectively with clients and families.
Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school, but didn’t?
In high school I had the opportunity to take Calculus, but had opted not to in my senior year. Taking this class would’ve been helpful in my first year as a freshman as I would’ve had a better knowledge and background for my university Calculus class.
What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?
Sometimes you never think of the other duties not assigned when applying to jobs. In my first year as a registered dietitian part of the job responsibilities was participating in Christmas parties. Being on the management team, we had to go from different floors singing Christmas carols.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy spending time at my cottage with family and friends. I like cross-country skiing, running, playing volleyball, tennis, and ultimate Frisbee. I also enjoy attending comedy shows and going to the movies.
You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?
If I won $10 million dollars the first thing that I would do would be to take my family on a trip around the world.