Monday, June 22, 2015

How I became a RD and College Nutrition Professor

Being A College Professor
Since my last posts about being a college professor and why I became a college professor,  many of you have asked questions about how to become a collegiate professor, what does it look like be an online professor? How do I come up with coursework? These were the same questions that I had when I started teaching. So, I'll address some of these topics today and in future posts, since you had questions. So, stay tuned.

I have always loved teaching, and I knew I wanted to teach eventually. But, I took a slightly different approach to becoming a teacher. I became a registered dietitian (RD) first. To become a RD, you must complete an undergraduate degree with prerequisites for entrance into a dietetic internship. You apply and match to an internship program. Once you complete your dietetic internship, you are eligible to take the RD exam. . Once you pass the RD exam, you can practices as a dietitian. 

Master of Science
After I passed my RD exam, I began working as a clinical RD. I worked full-time at a pediatric hospital and worked to complete my my Master of Science (MS) part time. 

I earned 12 graduate level credits during my dietetic internship. I was fortunate enough to find a Dietetic and Nutrition MS program that was mostly online. Having online courses was great for me since I was working full-time, I am self-motivated, and I had a good base understanding of the subject matter from my undergraduate degree. Also, it provided me with personal experience taking online courses as a student. This has been very valuable since I'm now on the "other side" teaching online courses. 

My MS degree did require some face-to-face classes, which I enjoyed. It was nice to have classes with people. I love meeting new people, so this was a nice change of pace from the online courses.

CSP or specialty certification
I earned a specialty degree in pediatric nutrition. I did this because I am a clinical pediatric RD, but I was offered the Lifecycle Nutrition course because of this degree. The Lifecycle Nutrition course is the only course I had as an undergraduate student that had a pediatric portion. So, it never hurts to specialize. And, keep learning.

Sending out your resume
When I decided to pursue teaching as an RD, I sent out resumes to local universities, community colleges, dietetic internship programs, and cooking schools. All of these institutions provide courses on food, nutrition, health, and food safety, which an RD can teach. I met several people through this, but ultimately there were no jobs available.

I actually got my first job through networking. I reached out to my dietetic internship program director to see if she knew of any jobs in her institution or at another institution. There were none at the time. But, she gave my contact information to a Undergraduate Director

If you are interested in teaching or any other aspect of being a RD, I would recommend volunteering. It may take some time and effort to find a RD that has the time to have a volunteer, but it will be worth it! Also, some dietetic internships have "alternate" or "staffing" weeks where you can request to shadow a RD in a specific setting. Take advantage of this opportunity and explore some different job opportunities for RDs.

I now have the pleasure of teaching several online courses, Basic Human Nutrition and a Lifecycle Nutrition. So, wish me luck as I work to finish reading 19 chapters of Lifecycle Nutrition. 

Are you a college teacher? Do you have any advice for those wishing to become professors? Do you have any questions about becoming a RD or professor? 
If so, comment below with your questions or advice about being a RD or professor.

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