Career Story: Registered Dietitian Working In Nursing Homes

Registered Dietitian Working In Nursing Homes

Job Title: Registered Dietitian

Type of Company: I am self employed. I work as a consulting RD (Registered Dietitian). I have two contracts with two skilled nursing facilities.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Psychology, Simmons College •• Graduate level work at University of New Hampshire

Previous Experience: While in college I worked on the psychosomatic unit at Children's hospital in Boston, after college I worked as a Diet Tech at two hospital just outside of Boston

Job Tasks: I provide the entire gamut of nutrition care for two long term care facilities, I am the only dietitian in each setting. This involves nutrition assessments of all admissions (patients being admitted to the facilities), on going evaluations of nutrition status, diet & nutrition education for residents, family and staff. I am responsible for a work load that is monitored by state & federal regulations which must be met by specific standards of care.

I am evaluated annually by a state agency that oversees long term care facilities (on an ongoing basis by the facilities I contract with). I conduct food service rounds and monitor meal production, provide menu analysis, therapeutic and mechanically altered diet needs, educate kitchen staff and oversee sanitary practices.

I am part of the healthcare team and participate in interdisciplinary meetings. I routinely have interactions with physicians, nurses, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, nurses aides and other non health related staff. I maintain on going continuing education credits that periodically must be reported to organizations that maintain my credential status (allows me to use the initials R.D. & L.D.N.).

I work very independently and must maintain good time management, interpersonal and professional skills. I routinely stay abreast of new nutrition information and in such a large field I tend to be a "jack of all trades" since I must determine the most appropriate nutrition direction based on a wide range of medical diagnoses. The clients of whom I work with vary greatly in age, diagnoses, aptitude, motivation, interest and nutrition needs. I must be flexible, compassionate and empathetic to a variety of conditions.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is I get to help people and improve their nutritional status. I can review lab work (blood draws & medical tests) and recommend an appropriate nutrition intervention to benefit these individuals. I receive the rewards of seeing people get healthier and return home to live more independently. The worse part of my job is sometimes people don't get better, instead they may get worse and eventually die. It is hard to get attached to some people who then pass away.

Job Tips:
1. Get some experience (find a mentor in the field), before you commit yourself to a 5-6 year post secondary education.

2. Be aware that it becomes very competitive when you are pursuing the education that is required to obtain your R.D. status.

3. Nutrition is a science based field. You will use all that chemistry, anatomy & physiology, biology, etc., which are mandatory.

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