Keeping It Real, Nutrition

A New Decade – Part One

As 2019 is winding down, people have been posting about what they looked like at the beginning of the decade vs. now. Or what things they have accomplished that would have their 2010 selves completely shocked. I posted these comparisons myself, and had many of my friends commenting their own. It made me think – wow. A whole lot of things have happened in the last 10 years.

I have done so many things I never thought that I would do. Some amazing, some not so much. I did a lot of things I expected to do. I made many new friends and I lost a few on the way… some I’m sad about and some I know I’m so much better off without.

I thought it would be fun and also inspiring to look back on the last decade to see how far I’ve come. When I started to write this, I was just touching briefly on the “big things” but then I realized – I did A LOT in these last 10 years that I am pretty dang proud of. So I decided to break it up into 3 different topics: my education & career, my relationships and my running. Look out for the other parts of this blog coming to you later!

Education & Career

At the start of this decade, I was wrapping up my college education. At the beginning of 2010 I was preparing my applications to be matched for a dietetic internship. Although my school work was much less demanding it was a very stressful time. I knew that getting matched to an internship was essential to becoming a dietitian, and that often when someone doesn’t get matched it can take a whole lot to eventually get an internship. Applications went out in February 2010 and matching day was in April 2010. Unfortunately, as many of my readers know (it is one of my most popular blog entries ever) I did not get matched to a dietetic internship. I spent a week crying and stressing about what my possible options were. Then about a week after matching day, as I was driving from work in Mount Pleasant to visit Ken in Saginaw, I received a phone call that I will never forget and that changed the direction of my life instantly. It was from the director of the the Henry Ford Health System dietetic internship asking me if I wanted to fill a vacant spot in their program. Of course, I said yes! In October 2010 I began my dietetic internship that was mostly centralized at Henry Ford Hospital in downtown Detroit.

During the internship I experienced a lot of ups and downs, not only surrounding becoming a dietitian, but also in my personal life. These ups and downs made an already challenging experience even more difficult. I learned so much during my internship – I gained knowledge in several clinical nutrition specialties including cardiology, neurology, nephrology, oncology, internal medicine and infectious disease. I also got outpatient experience with diabetes management and bariatric surgery. We had outings focused on community nutrition, and of course there was a rotation for foodservice. My internship was very well rounded and although I went into the internship thinking I wanted to work in outpatient nutrition, specifically with the eating disorder population, I left the internship wanting to work in renal nutrition with dialysis patients. This experience not only began my career as a dietitian, but introduced me to some wonderful people that still remain close to me today, and sparked my love for the city of Detroit.

After 10 months of intense learning experiences, I graduated from my dietetic internship in July 2011. I took the national exam and passed in October 2011, officially becoming a registered dietitian. I also started a part time job as a dietitian in an eating disorder and substance abuse recovery center – I thought, “How lucky am I? I got my dream job right away!” The thoughts of being a renal dietitian dwindled away. Since the job was only part time, in January 2012 I picked up a second part time job working in long term care. That job ended up offering me a full time position and before I knew it I was switching gears to be a long term care dietitian and was moving to Saginaw.

I worked at the long term care facility in Saginaw full time from August 2012 until November 2014. During that time, I questioned my career choice frequently. I knew that although I did not hate my job that it wasn’t fulfilling why I had become a dietitian. I considered going back to school to become a teacher, I considered starting my master’s degree, and I looked for other opportunities that might fit me better. I interviewed for two jobs in the clinical acute care setting but did not get them – and quite honestly I’m glad I didn’t because I know that wasn’t what I was meant to do, either.

In the summer or fall or 2014 I got a phone call from a college classmate who was the clinical nutrition manager at a Saginaw hospital. He told me that they had a full time position available and asked me if I had an experience in outpatient nutrition therapy. I told him that I did, and he told me that there was an opening for a bariatric dietitian at the hospital where he was working. I was hesitant at first as my experience with bariatric surgery was limited and quite honestly biased. As I listened to him describe the program, I became more and more interested. I decided to take a chance and apply.

I didn’t hear from anyone for quite some time and I figured I would be receiving one of those generic emails telling me that I hadn’t gotten the job. Then out of the blue I heard from my friend again asking me to set up an interview with him and the director of the bariatric program. One of the questions the director asked me was why I was looking for another job. I told her, “Honestly, I’m not. I like the job I have, but I think I am meant to have more of an impact on others. I feel like it’s not the exact fit, but I do like what I do.” That statement was part of what caused the director, my now friend Lisa, to tell my soon to be supervisor to call and offer me the job right away. The interview was on a Friday and that Sunday I received a call offering me the position. I happily accepted it.

When I started my job as a bariatric dietitian, I was working 4 days a week 10 hours a day in order to keep working part time as a consultant for my long term care job. The intention was to help them transition and hire someone to replace me, but I ended up doing that for a couple more years. During the first year of my job at the bariatric center, I considered going back to my old job – not because I disliked the new job, but because of outside forces telling me that I should have management experience. I should build my resume. Staying at one place and pigeon holing myself to one type of dietetics might be career suicide. Fortunately my old job did not give me any offers worth taking and it wasn’t long before I realized I was exactly where I needed to be.

In 2015 a friend and I went to Virginia Beach together for a training in obesity and weight management. It was an incredible experience that I won’t ever forget – not only for the skills I developed and knowledge I gained from the training, but also for the travel experience. My friend and I not only went to Virginia Beach, we also went to Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh. That training really solidified for me that I was in the right place and doing something that I truly loved. I finally stopped working as a consultant in long term care in 2018.

Our bariatric program has gone through so much in the last 5 years that I have been part of it. FIVE YEARS. I have spent half of the last decade working at this amazing job! We have seen so many patients with incredible stories. We have had members of our team come and go. Right now I feel that we are in a very positive place, as our program has grown and we are looking for new place to continue our growth. As for me personally, I hope that in the next decade I will earn my specialist certification in obesity and weight management and continue to develop the program. When I started off this decade, I didn’t think I would ever find a job that I truly felt I could work at for my entire career. As we are ending this decade, I absolutely know that if it is at all possible, I want to retire doing exactly what I am doing now. And that’s a darn amazing feeling.

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