Melinda, the Dietitian

Good morning everyone. Today I thought I would post about my background. Who is Melinda the dietitian? I have 2 reasons for this:
1) I have some new readers who really do not know much about me
2) The end of September will bring my 5 year anniversary as a dietitian
So, I will start from the beginning. I started out as a biology premed major at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. This was an amazing school.

Here is a pic of me and my friends, I think in freshman year.

Those were great times, but in my Junior year I changed my mind about med school. I also changed my major to Nutrition. Well, there was one problem. Muhlenberg did not have a nutrition program. I brought this up to my advisor, who happened to know that a school just a few miles down the road had a nutrition program. JACKPOT! But I did not want to give up the degree I was half way finished with at Muhlenberg. Since Muhlenberg and the other school, Cedar Crest College, were part of the same network of schools, I would be able to cross transfer credits. The nutriton program was designed for lifelong learners, so the classes were all offered at night. This was perfect. I attended Muhlenberg during the day and Cedar Crest at night. All it took was an extra year at Cedar Crest after graduating from Muhlenberg with a BS in Biology.
Then I finished Cedar Crest with a BS in Nutrition. I was on my way to becoming a dietitian.
As many of you know, you must also do an internship to become a RD. My first choice internship was the Sodexho Mid-Atlantic Dietetic Internship in Baltimore/DC. If you know anything about the internship application and selection process you will know it is a tough and highly competetive process. I was very lucky to get my top choice. After the 10 month intership we would be ready to take the exam to become a registered dietitian. Here is a pic of me and my fellow interns at our graduation ceremony.
Then I got in my car and headed out to Las Vegas.
It took a while to find a job since there was a hold up in being able to take the RD exam. Once I did take the exam (and passed on the first try!) I had no trouble finding a job at Sunrise Hospital. Here is a pic of the dietitians at one of their former coworkers (and the girl who left and I replaced) weddings. We all worked well together and hung out outside of work.
At Sunrise I worked for 4 years as the outpatient dietitian. This was my first job so i had never done outpatient before, only inpatient as an intern and watched outpatient dietitians. I remember in my interview, my boss Lorna asked me if I had done this, or if I had done that. My responses were all: No, but I am sure I can, No, but I'll try, No, but that sounds like fun. And that's how my job went. I did a lot of things I had no experience with, but that is how I learned.

As the outpatient dietitian I scheduled my own patients, counseled in a variety of areas (mostly diabetes, weight loss, and pre-dialysis renal patients). I participated in many health fairs, community wellness programs, corporate wellness programs, taught diabetes classes, and gave presentations to various seniors groups around town.

I was also the staff relief dietitian. This meant I had to be proficient in ALL of the other dietitian's jobs. Whenever someone was off, I filled in. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for weeks. We called this the "ongoing identity crisis" since I never knew what I wuld be doing when I came into work in the morning. I really enjoyed this because I developed skills in all units: oncology, rehab, trauma, cardiac ICU, women's care, pre-natal, med-surg, neuro ICU and all things pediatrics. I loved the variety.

Let me take a break for a moment since a lot went on during my years at Sunrise. Here is a pic of my college buddies when I returned to Allentown for my 5 year Muhlenberg reunion. Look how much we have changed from the pic taken freshman year.
Here is another fun time from Sunrise Hospital over the years. This was taken Halloween 2007. there was a costume contest. We dressed up as the Vegas People and performed S.H.M.C. if you want to see something both entertaining and embaressing, click here for the video footage .

It wasn't that bad. We won first place and with the prize money we all went out for a nice dinner.
Some other highlights of my career along the way:

1) I taught Nutrition 121 at UNLV - this is undergrad intro nutrition for non-majors. This was what made me realize I really do want to be a college professor.

2) I completed the Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through CDE.

3) I was treasurer of the Southern Nevada Dietetic Association (SNDA) for 2 years, and then was elected right after that as President-elect. I loved planning our 4 meetings that year. I held a wine tasting that presented the nutritional benefits of wine along with a history of wine, and I also provided a program on Spanish speaking for the nutrition professional. Both presenters were local to Las Vegas and I was proud to be able to showcase some of our local talent.

4) I graduated from UNLV with a MPH degree, with a concentration in epidemiology.
I think we know that all good things must come to an end. After 4 years as the outpatient dietitian at the hospital, the program was eliminated aas the economy took a turn for the worse. I moved over to the hospital and filled in as an inpatient dietitian. At first I did whatever was needed of me since I was familiar with all units.

Then, one of our dietitians, Holly, who is an Air Force Reserve dietitian (shout out to Holly if your reading!) deployed to Iraq. That's right, she actually served our country as a dietitian in Iraq. if you are at all interested in what her experience is like, she kept a blog . Even though she is back to the States now, you can read previous posts and see what it was like to be a dietitian in a war. She is the pediatric dietitian at the hospital, so when she deployed, I filled in. That is how I became a pediatric dietitian. At the same time though I still covered the cardiovascular thoracic unit. In the end it became tough to do my units, precept the UNLV interns and prepare for my next big journey--moving with my husband who received overseas orders.

Just before we moved I was awarded with the Young Recognized Dietitian of the Year award for the state of Nevada. This was an extreme honor and one that I am thankful to have received. All of my hard work and dedication was recognized by my colleagues.
My last day at Sunrise Hospital, my first and only job as a clinical dietitian, was also my birthday. One of our interns brought this in for my birthday/going away party. It was sad, but also exciting. I miss all of them dearly and I miss the fun we had working together.
When my time was up in Vegas (after 5 great years), we packed up our things and headed to the Azores. Here is a pic at my farewell party in Baltimore. Nothing says summer in Baltimore like crabs and beer.
And that is how I ended up where I am. I currently can not work as a clinical dietitian. There is a diet tech (Air Force of course) on base at the Health and Wellness Center. The base is to small to need a dietitian. Once I am settled I may offer private counseling services, but I am not yet sure of the need here.

To keep myself busy I am teaching (I have worked for Kaplan University for about a year now) online courses in medical terminology and a course titled nutrition management and planning. I also signed up to be a substitute teacher at the American school K-12. I haven't gotten called in yet, so I will keep you posted on that. Another way I stay busy is with this blog. Lastly, to stay busy, other than the obvious of enjoying my newlywed status on an island with my husband, I have enrolled in school. Oh yes, I am now a student at the University of Oklahoma. In a week from today I will officially start my first class. The program is very unique and I will save another post for that. The degree is a MA in Human Relations. It seems interesting and it is really different from everything else I have done.

I miss clinical work, but I am looking forward to what the future brings. I love the field of nutrition and I love the variety of jobs there is for dietitians. I am honored to work among so many great people. If you have any questions about my schooling, training or career choices, feel free to ask.

QUESTION: What is your greatest career accomplishment?


Gina; The Candid RD said...

WOW!! What an amazing path you have taken! Thanks for sharing your story. I was elected to be the incoming president of the Columbus Dietetic Association, but turned it down. We have about ten meetings per year!! It's intense, and I just knew I had too many things on my plate already. Currently I am the PR chair, and that position suits me well.
I did not know you were in school for Human Relations. What a huge switch! What would you like to do with your degree? Stay in nutrition? Or branch out?

chow and chatter said...

oh your are s dietitian star girlie great to know more about you lol Rebecca

Unknown said...

OMG i look bad in the freshman year pic. thank goodness i redeemed myself in the 5 year reunion pic @ the turtle :)

Stareared Kid said...

Wow! I loved the flashback photos and memories :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! Loved reading your story...

So cool that you know Holly - I have read her blog before.

My biggest career accomplishment so far is being promoted to director of our Weight Management Center- I love having the chance to do what I love every day!

Unknown said...

Melinda, I did the Sodexho Internship also, I think a year before you!- Stacy Hankin Forman

yourdietlounge said...

I want to tell you that the experience of follow is really amazing. It helps me emphasize importance of balance diet. I am Thankful of Best Diet Consultant in Delhi

Post a Comment