Hey guys! You’re in for a real treat because I have a guest post for you today from my RD friend, Jen, who lives in Canada and has a blog called Pretty Little Grub. She is both a registered dietitian AND a makeup artist, which means she is truly a girl after my own heart! In honor of National Nutrition Month, I thought it would be fun to hear about the process of becoming a registered dietitian in another country. Take it away, Jen!
Hello to Sam’s readers! I am so excited to be guest posting today. My name is Jen and I write a blog called Pretty Little Grub. As a fellow Dietitian I was so happy to find Sam’s blog. It’s always great to see what other dietitians are talking about.
Sam asked me to talk a little bit about my experience with becoming a Dietitian in Canada since the process is a little bit different from the US. Even within Canada things are different depending upon which University you attend but I’ll give you my experience.
First of all, I didn’t always want to be a Dietitian, I wanted to be an accountant. Then I had a bad math teacher in grade 12 who made me question my love of math. After that I took a year off to figure out what I wanted to do. I loved biology so I wanted something science based, eventually I decided on Nutrition. I have never looked back, I absolutely love my choice of profession. Although it’s a little ironic because being a Dietitian requires math on a daily basis.
My degree is a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Food Science with a Major in Nutrition. For the first two years, I was in general science but then after meeting the prerequisites and minimum GPA I was able to apply for the Nutrition major.
As within the US an internship is required on top of the degree in order to become a Registered Dietitian. Internships are not guaranteed and are highly competitive, you apply and then based on your GPA, work and volunteer experience you may be granted an interview.
My interview consisted of 3 group interviews. During each one a group of us applicants was given a nutrition scenario and we discussed it amongst ourselves while we were observed by a panel. It was incredibly awkward! You want to make sure you say something but also don’t want to be monopolizing the conversation. However, I know the University of Alberta has now changed their interview process to Mini Multiple Interviews rather than the group format, which I think I really would have preferred.
After the interview round they choose about 25 successful applicants. During my year there were 50 applicants, so only 50% of us got an internship. I was lucky and got an internship my first application round.
Now as for the internship, it’s broken into 4 different courses – Introduction to Clinical, Advanced Clinical, Community Nutrition & Food Services. Introduction to Clinical is 4 weeks long and the rest are 12-16 weeks. Which makes for almost an entire year of internship. Which of course is unpaid.
The placements can take place anywhere across the province and they ensure every intern gets at least one rural placement. The toughest part about Internship was not knowing where you would be placed next and figuring out housing. My year of Internship was great. I had so many great opportunities and vast experiences that ranged from working in the NICU to working with teenage mom’s to teaching baby food making classes to making hospital cafeteria specials.
After completing the Internship you are able to work as a Dietitian in Alberta with a mentor. It is not until you complete the licensing exam that you can become a Registered Dietitian.
And there you have it, my path to becoming a Registered Dietitian! After internship I got a job immediately as a casual Dietitian working at different hospitals and care centres across Calgary as relief coverage. A couple of months later I got a maternity leave position at a Long Term Care & rehab facility which turned permanent when the previous Dietitian didn’t return from her maternity leave and that’s still where I am now.
On top of my regular job, I do a lot of contract work. What I love about being a Dietitian is that the field is so diverse. I’ve done work in the media, given talks to groups of runners on sports nutrition and created menus for group homes. There really never is a dull moment.
If you want to hear more about my life, my opinions on nutrition & fitness check out my blog.
Jen Rawson is a Registered Dietitian, professional makeup artist and fitness enthusiast. She loves staying active in any way but is especially fond of running. Last year she completed her first marathon and plans to run two more this year. She writes a blog called Pretty Little Grub that focuses on nutrition, fitness & makeup.