Career Story: Community Nutritionist Working With Disadvantaged Women And Children

Community Nutritionist Working With Disadvantaged Women And Children

Job Title: Community Nutritionist

Type of Company: The organization I work for is federally-funded through the USDA which has local agencies throughout the states. We provide nutrition education as well as supplemental foods for infants, children from ages 1 to 5, and pregnant, post-partum, and breastfeeding women.

Education: BA, Dietetics, University of New Haven (CT)

Previous Experience: I started as a dietary aide at a skilled nursing facility. Then, I became a cook supervisor as I was taking college courses for my degree in dietetics. Most recently, I have worked as a nutritionist for a federally funded nutrition program.

Job Tasks: I have individual counseling sessions, mainly with mothers, in which about their children's eating habits. I try to change certain behaviors which we hope will help them live healthy lives. One major topic we talk about is breastfeeding, since this is the first food that babies ingest. Breast milk is made by a mother's body just for her baby and helps a baby digest very easily. This can be a difficult subject to talk about since it's not widely supported in society, and it is hard to help a mother continue to breastfeed for as long as she intends to. But it is also very rewarding when I see a baby thrive, especially in the first year of life. I also enjoy seeing babies and children on a daily basis and watching them grow into toddlers and then into school-age children. I get to see them grow because I need to weigh and measure them at least two times a year and plot their growth charts. I also get to see them change some of their eating behaviors, especially when they begin to eat vegetables and actually enjoy them!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is when mothers come into my office with questions to ask about what they can do differently or if they are doing the right thing for their children.

The worst part of my job is when I see a family in need and they just can't seem to find help from anybody or any other assistance program for low-income families.

Job Tips: Be open-minded. It's very easy to judge people based on what they do with their money or how they appear to treat other people. Treating everybody with decency is how you can get through a job like mine. It can be very hard at times, but rewarding to yourself and the person you are counseling.

Be nice to everyone. This includes the people you work with. Remember they are doing the same job you are and it can be trying on a daily basis.

Be honest by giving out correct and updated (nutrition) education. You will not be able to make everyone happy, but you can be sure that you will give out information that you believe is true and backed by research.

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