When I first started researching the idea of going back to school to be a registered dietitian (RD), I asked a friend who is a registered dietitian where I should start and asked her some of the first questions I had. She was great and instrumental in pointing me in the right direction to find credible information. Along the way I've scoured the internet for personal accounts of how people have gone about navigating the path to their dietetics education. Because above and beyond the hard facts about how to go about becoming a RD, finding someone who shares a similar situation makes the process feel a little less scary and daunting. Especially when you are coming from an entirely different field and also choosing a non-traditional route such as an online/distance program, like I am. Many of the personal accounts I have come across have shared wonderful insight into their specific journey. And while none have matched my situation exactly, I have learned tidbits of information from them all. So I thought perhaps there might be others out there that are looking for someone in a similar situation to mine while starting their journey to becoming a registered dietitian. Even if it's not the same situation someone else may be in, I may have one piece of the puzzle that helps!
These posts about my journey to RD will be ongoing as I am currently working on the last few science prerequisites I need to be able to apply to the program I am interested in. I'll talk about how I got to where I am now and update as I move along!
If this is the first post you're reading on my blog, I'll share a little background about myself. I graduated with a BA in Studio Art from UC Davis and have worked in the photography industry for the last 10 years. I also worked a variety of administrative jobs along the way to support myself through college and during the early years of my photography business. I still currently work in photography, just not as a photographer. In 2014 my husband and I welcomed a little boy into our lives and six months after he was born I decided to change my career and the following summer began taking courses towards becoming a registered dietitian.
Because I had a bachelor degree in another subject already, I am considered a career changer. I found the information regarding the steps it takes to become a RD along with accredited schools and programs on the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics website, eatright.org . Start there. And read everything!
The steps to becoming a RD for me started with catching up on all of my basic science courses in order to take the upper division prerequisite sciences required to apply to a program. I had taken a basic biology class but that was about it. I had to start at the very bottom in chemistry, never have taken a chemistry class! I am glad I had to do it that way, while it took me a few extra semesters to get to the level I needed to be at, it gave me a great foundation and everything is fresh in my mind. It gave me confidence as well! It did take me a few semesters of sequential courses to get to where I am now but I took one science course in person at my local community college and then one course online that fulfilled my other needs each semester. For me this was a great way to ease back into school. With my son Jack, working part time and life in general, I found it challenging but in a very manageable way. I would suggest taking as many of the science courses in person as you can. I have now completed one major science course (organic chemistry) in an online format and it was the most challenging class I have taken so far. I know organic chemistry is an extremely challenging subject in general, taking it online was definitely a test of resoursefulness in addition to learning the subject matter, but it's totally doable.
There is a plus side to taking science courses online. For me the school I am applying to is a distance/online program, with an in person, coordinated program in supervised practice experience. So I see the benefit being the more courses I take online, the better I will become at it. Just like figuring out how to navigate any program of study is a huge part of being successful, so is figuring out how to learn in an online environment. So I've started to find a flow to how I personally learn best in an online class. It's always scary to go into a new online class, because the pace and the amount of information and how it's delivered varies but I feel like I have found my groove quicker with each successive class I've taken. So I am thankful for the hard classes that make me manage my time efficiently, be unafraid to ask question, to make mistakes and to reach out to the professor and other students in hopes of creating the kind of community and camaraderie I'd find in a traditional classroom. But I won't sugar coat it, it's hard and there have been tears =P
I finished my winter semester and am now enjoying a bit of a break. I start my online summer class in June (anatomy & physiology for dietetics) and am, as always, feeling nervous but excited. I really do enjoy what I am learning!
During my break and this summer I am also starting to work on my application for the coordinated program I have my sights set on. There are a ton of components so I'm hoping starting now will have me in line with the deadline in January! I plan on sharing my experience as time allows... if you are looking for ideas on how to begin your education in dietetics and I can help answer even one question from my own experiences up until now, please message me! I'd love to pay the help I've received from others forward.