Career Ideas, Part 1

OK, some time ago I blogged about possible career options I'd like to explore (you'll have to scroll a bit to find the list....I'm realizing now that I need to try to focus my blog posts a bit. More frequent, shorter, focused posts are a good trait in blogging, I think!).

Anyway, I said that I would try to use my blog to explore these ideas a bit more and perhaps solicit advice from you, my family and friends. So today's post will be the first installment in said explorations....starting with one of the current leading options, Registered Dietitian. If you're looking for knitting content, come back some other time....this post is all about my thoughts on this career.

Positives: This to me seems to combine the better parts of teaching (the actual educational parts, and I actually enjoy the planning bit, too!) with my interest in food and cooking. RDs can work in a variety of settings, and I'm not sure which would appeal to me the most, but many offer interesting opportunities. I could work with a school system to design a healthy eating program (not in Ontario, where there is no organized school lunch system! I find this amazing and disturbing, actually...). I could work in a clinical setting, offering advice and education to people on various restricted diets for health reasons. I like the idea of helping people on restricted diets find ways to still eat food they enjoy. When Stephen and I were touring a health centre in Barrie, we heard about a lot of programs offered by RDs there--cooking classes for new moms, workshops for diabetics, safe food handling programs, etc. Imagine...I could teach about something I enjoy, but with no marking, no angry parents, no report card comments, etc.

I like the idea of having some flexibility in my career, too. I could work in one or more types of dietitics, work part-time or full-time, in private practice or for an institution, the government, or a corporation. Teaching doesn't seem to offer quite as many different ways to structure your career, although I have given some thought to other education-related careers. (That's for another post!)

Another big plus here is the fact that there are lots of employment opportunities. Family medicine in Ontario is moving to more of a team-based model, and allied health professionals like RDs are in demand almost everywhere. I don't know as much yet about opportunities in the US, but I have done some reading and it appears it is a growth field in most areas. Stephen and I could conceivably end up working at the same place. I think this would be good--we wouldn't be actually working together all day, so I don't think the typical problems of spousal co-workers would apply too much!

Negatives: The biggest drawback I can think of is probably the additional education required. I don't mind going back to school if I'm certain I'm going to enjoy the career at the end of it, though, so if I end up deciding this is the path for me, that's not so bad. Obviously there is an expense associated with going back to school, and this varies dramatically depending on where I go. I am in a fortunate position to know that Stephen will be making very good money in another year or two, so we will probably be able to afford more education for me (and since he came back to Canada for med school, his debt, while significant, is not as huge as it would have been in the US!).

However, it does seem like the path would be easier in the US in this regard. In Ontario, there are very few (3, I think) university programs that lead to certification as an RD. All are undergraduate programs--I really don't think I need another bachelor's degree, although if I have to, OK. In the US there are more varied options, including doing an MPH in Nutrition at my alma mater, UNC. I would still have to take some basic science courses as prerequisites before enrolling in the MPH, but not that many. And if I get my in-state tuition status back, the program is fairly affordable. This is also a good way to convince Stephen we have to move back to NC--so that might really belong in the positive column! :-)

I imagine there are other downsides here, and at some point if I get serious about this, I hope to actually take some time and chat with RDs in different settings about the career. (I like to think I will be responsible and do this with any career before making any life-changing decisions!) Of course, if any of you have any advice or thoughts on this or other careers, please let me know! And knitting content will return soon, I promise.


Diane said…
This sounds like a great option. I've always been interested in food and nutrition but never realised there were so many employment opportunities.

It would be an area I might think of moving into in future.
Bearium said…
It sounds like you've got a lot of good reasons to give this a go.

I think the best way to see if you want to pursue this is to try and get some experience of the job. I'm hoping to go into teaching and have been able to spend some time in school shadowing teachers. It really did give me a valuable insight into the workings of the classroom and also enabled me to interact with the children.