Should You Become a Registered Dietitian?

Why and How I Became a Registered Dietitian:

The Long and Short of It

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I'm trying to think back to when I first even heard of a Registered Dietitian! If you've ever read my About Me page, this story will not be new to you. But if you haven't, then sit mom was diagnosed with Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis when I was about 11. She spent many, many weeks at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX. She would go for a week or two, and then come back home for a while, and then go back for treatments. On one of her visits back home, she told me how a Registered Dietitian had come to see her in the hospital. Mom was telling me that the dietitian told her that she needed more potassium in her diet. She talked about all of the reasons why and all of the different foods that were high in potassium, and I remember being really interested, but not enough to talk about it anymore! I know that I had never really heard of a dietitian, but I do remember exactly what my mom said. She said, "Jen, you should be a dietitian. You would love that. You are so smart and you love to help people and talk to people, and I thought of you when she came in!" (like all moms, she thought I was the!) Anyway, I heard her, but my 11 year old self didn't really listen to her. The last thing on my mind at 11 was what my career was going to be for the rest of my life.

8 years later

Well fast forward about 8 years, and I was a Sophomore at Louisiana State University (LSU). I had entered LSU majoring in Business, but after a few accounting and super hard math classes....I was out. I had to decide something because I had a year and a half of college under my belt and I didn't want to not use all of the hours I had earned thus far. So, I did what any good clueless college student would do, I took out the LSU Catalog (yes, we had big books that listed all the degrees and classes-no computers-no online). I started flipping through the catalog and just reading the descriptions of the different courses offered at LSU.

Nursing classes - no way!! I cannot do any gross situation, bodily fluids or FEET! 

Education - I actually thought about being a teacher for a hot minute, but decided that I am not the most patient person, so kids weren't the best for me to spend day in and day out with (Plus I never wanted to get married OR have kids!). I mean the classes looked fun, but actually teaching the rest of my life was not going to happen.

Psychology - I am really interested in psychology and I love to see how people tick. I like to give advice and get inside people's heads and know all of their business. I don't know why I didn't major in psychology. The only thing I can think of is that N comes before P in the alphabet, so I came across Nutrition & Dietetics before I came across Psychology!


Nutrition & Dietetics

When I came across Nutrition & Dietetics, it's like the clouds opened and I heard angels sing and all was right with the world. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but as I read the descriptions of the classes for that degree I thought, this is right up my ally. Food, food and more food? Awesome. There were some food science classes, some cooking classes, a few labs, some classes about chronic illness and what part nutrition plays in it....I could keep going but you get the idea. All of that sounded really interesting to me, and I guess I figured if I was interested in it , I would stick with it and try my hardest. And I did! But I had no idea how much was involved in obtaining this degree!

First of all, I was not obese, but probably 50 pounds overweight. All those beers and 2 a.m. cheeseburgers and fries showed themselves proudly on my bod! And when you are majoring in nutrition, and you're fat, you kind of get the sideways stares and a few eye rolls. I mean I like to eat and I like to eat real food. So, I would sit in class with other girls who were munching on 2 carrots and 6 water bottles, while I probably had some M & M’s! But, I continued on my little path to becoming a dietitian.

Secondly, I couldn't cook. Like COULD NOT COOK A THING! Never had to cook. I lived at home until I was 17. I moved to LSU and ate in the dining hall my freshman year, then lived in my sorority house for the next three years (where they had cooks make breakfast. lunch and supper!). So I never had to cook, therefore, had no idea how to cook! When I started some of those cooking classes at LSU and food science classes, I was so lost - and everyone could tell! I muddled through I guess and did well enough to make it LOOK like I knew what I was doing.

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Dietetic Internship

After I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition & Dietetics, I had to do a Dietetic Internship. This was a 9 - 12 month internship with NO PAY! Yes, I said no pay. There were only certain places that offered a Dietetic Internship, so you had to apply to these places and hope you got accepted into one! I ended up going to Louisiana Tech University to do my internship, and when that was finished, I had to take a National Certification Exam which then made me a Registered Dietitian.

Career Paths

I know so many dietitians who say they would never recommend to anyone to become a dietitian. But, it has been a great career for me. There are so many avenues you can take within dietetics and I have hit 3 of them! When I finished my internship, I started a job with WIC (Women, Infants, and Children). This is considered working in the community sector and I loved it. I certified pregnant women, infants and children from 1-5 years old for WIC and gave them nutritional counseling. It was a great job. I loved getting to know the families and still, 24 years later, see some of the patients I met there. I worked there for 6 years, and when I became pregnant with my 2nd child, Emily, I didn't return to work after I had her.

Fast forward a few years, and I decided to go back to work. I ended up working at Pinecrest Supports and Services - which is a residential home for developmentally disabled individuals. Some of these individuals had lived their entire lives at this facility, and it was like a little town within a town. This was considered working in the clinical sector. This was mainly assessing patients based on their anthropometrics (ht, wt, labs) and recommending a diet for them and a plan of care. I followed the same group of people for 10 years. My patients were mostly the medically fragile and I spent a lot of time figuring calories, protein and fluids for tube feedings. I learned a lot doing that but after 10 years, decided to pursue a different avenue.

Four and a half years ago, I left Pinecrest to go work at the Rapides Parish School Board. I am the Registered Dietitian there and a Food Service Supervisor. This is considered the management sector. I have worked harder at this job than any other, but it has been definitely more satisfying. What I do everyday makes a difference. We are constantly, keeping up with USDA guidelines, making menus, ordering groceries for the schools, obtaining foods for special diets, ordering equipment  and overseeing personnel. We have 47 schools and the director and I supervise about 400 employees. It is tiring but very rewarding. 

Another sector of dietetics is consulting. Over the years, I have consulted for many long-term care facilities. These facilities don't need a full-time dietitian, but do need to contract one out for so many hours a month. Their responsibility is to assess high risk patients, and to review the food service system monthly. This has been an excellent source of extra income for me and given me an entirely different work experience. Some dietitians do consulting full-time. They have 5 or 6 facilities that they contract with, and just visit them so many days throughout the month. 

So, as you can see, there are so many opportunities for Registered Dietitians. They aren't just in the hospital anymore. They are in the community, in the schools, in doctor's offices and long-term care facilities. I also think that the need for dietitians will only increase. Health and weight loss are huge in this country and people spend billions of dollars every year weight loss programs and nutritional supplements. This is only going to become of greater importance as the years go on.

It has been a great career for me, and I think it would be great for anyone who is interested in nutrition. You know, if they are 'smart and love to help people and like to talk to people"! They always say mama knows best...I guess in case, it's true!

Happy Dietitian Day!


How I Increased My Pinterest Average Monthly Viewers by 640% in about 6 Weeks!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission should you chose to sign up for a program or make a purchase using my link and you will not be charged extra. It’s okay – I love all of these companies anyways, and you will too!

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Ok, so I am a dietitian and I write about nutrition, meal planning, healthy eating, and recipes. So, why am I writing a post on how my Pinterest viewers increased by 650% over a few weeks time? Oh my gosh, because I am really new to blogging. Like 6 months new, and I have slowly educated myself on LOTS of things pertaining to blogging. So, I always like to share what I have learned and some helpful hints along the way. That’s a huge part of how I learned, by reading other people’s blogs and taking some of their advice!

I have been a Registered Dietitian for over 20 years, and have worked in a variety of settings. I now work with the Child Nutrition Program in our local school district and I love my job! One night, in the middle of the night, I just kind of woke up, and couldn't go back to sleep. As I lay there, I started thinking about my life and my job, my education and my career. My kids are 21 and 17 now, and they still need me, but not like they did when they were 8 and 4. So I thought, "Self, you are not using your education and knowledge to its fullest potential"! I don't know what I thought "Self" was going to do....but an hour later, I was still laying there wide awake. I also would not have minded a little extra cash every month for my family! So, with this business, I wanted to make some money. I have a full time job, so I can't open a Consulting Business and operate it during the day, but why couldn't I open it and operate it online??? I did a little research, and people are doing this! The rest is history, I was off and running. There Jennifer Lee Coburn Nutrition was born!

What's your long drawn out point Jennifer? I. HAD. NO. IDEA. WHAT. I. WAS. DOING....So, I took a course called Digital Nomad Nutritionist by Amie Tollesfund...and it was a game changer. It was very easy for me to understand and it told me step by step how to do everything that I needed to do to get up and running with my website. I initially thought that I didn't want to spend the money for the course, but I have quickly figured out that you have to spend money to make money. You have to invest in yourself, and this was a great investment. Amie has offered a promotion for $100 off the course when you sign up by December 31, 2018! Go check it out here, and go ahead and sign up before the cut off so that you can receive that awesome discount! I promise, you will not be disappointed!

Which brings me to Pinterest. Let me start out by saying that Pinterest is my greatest source of traffic BY FAR! Everything you read tells you that Pinterest is not concerned about followers! It is a search engine and it is based more on how many people put their eyes on your content. The more people see your content, the higher you will rank in their logarithm and your pins will go to the top of their feed! So, I decided to invest in a course called Pinning Perfect. It is fantastic and it taught me so much. It literally breaks down how to produce a pin that is beautiful, informative AND leads the reader to valuable information. It also shows you the method to pinning your own pins, plus other people's pins, in order to be recognized on Pinterest. Y'all....I had no idea that blogging was a science!!! For real, there is a method to this, and things change every day. Let me say, that after taking this course and following their lessons, my traffic did increase greatly. And the content is available forever, so if I ever need to go back and look something up or get some new ideas….I just go right back to the course and read up on it!

So, how did I increase my pageviews? You're expecting me to say Tailwind right? Well, I do love Tailwind. It is also discussed in the course and it is fabulous because it is an automated pinning program that lets you schedule out TONS of your pins ahead of time so that you aren't pinning all day everyday. They also have "tribes" that you can join that are related to your niche and this is a place where you can share your pins and they get seen by so many more people. When you sign up with Tailwind via this link, there is a special promotion for new bloggers that when they sign up, they will get one month free. Just try it out and see. You will be hooked!

But, the way I increased my viewers on Pinterest by 652% is by SEO. Search Engine Optimization. When they say that Pinterest is a search engine, they are not kidding. There is a whole part on SEO in the Pinning Perfect Course! I was just looking at my Pinterest account one day and thinking I needed to update some of the boards and maybe add a few more. So, I did just that...I changed the name on almost every board and I went in and spiffed up the descriptions and hashtags...and can I tell you that during that very weekend, my views skyrocketed. I thought it was some freak of nature so I got on the Pinning Perfect Facebook Group Page (another perk to taking the course - it's a private group where you can ask all kinds of questions) and asked if they thought it was legit. Well, needless to say, it has been four weeks and my numbers are still climbing. My views have gone from 40,000 to 390,000 in about 6 weeks. Best news, my google analytics show it too! Which increases the pageviews to my website, which helps with ads and people looking at my other content! It was a WIN/WIN and I couldn't believe it was all from changing my boards and cleaning up my descriptions and hashtags!

Here is a picture of my Pinterest analytics from October 28:

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And here is a picture of my Pinterest analytics from Nov 12:

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I mean, need I say more? Nope. I couldn't believe, it, so I kept checking it and then checking my Google Analytics and they both showed a huge increase! I did figure out that my most popular posts were 5 Quick and Easy Weeknight Meal Ideas for Busy Moms That You'll Want to Try Tonight AND The Secret to Making Amazing Take Out Fried Rice from the Comfort of Your Own Home! So, I did go back and make sure that those posts and titles had Search Engine Optimization, and I created a couple of new images for Pinterest for them, and they took off even more!

I thought I would share this little tidbit of information, because everything I read about increasing your views on Pinterest are usually geared toward Tailwind (which I love!), but was floored when I saw what SEO had done for my account. So go ahead, go look at your boards. Do the titles for your boards make it clear about what is being pinned there? Do you have too many? Or too few? Then check your descriptions. You should be using keywords that are popular on Pinterest at the time and incorporating them in your description AND your hashtags. If any of you go and do this and see some kind of improvement, PLEASE let me know! I promise, it will knock your socks off. AND, it's FREE!!! 

Happy Pinning,