How to Adapt to Life After Undergrad
Consider Consulting for Your First Job as a Dietitian
by Bailie Kies, RD, LD
After years of hard work, the feeling after passing the registration examination for dietitians is one of the most rewarding moments.
After passing the exam, I went through a handful of interviews that didn’t pan out to be a job offer and I started to worry. Did I choose the right field to go into? Were my experiences during my undergraduate years and my internship a waste of time?
I didn’t feel the excitement during too many interviews until I interviewed for what would be my first job practicing as a dietitian. I finally interviewed with an employer who was genuinely interested in the experiences on my resume, experience that I was so proud of.
My excitement continued when I was offered the job at a long term care facility where I had worked in college. As expected, I was a ball of nerves and excitement on my first day on the job. I had spent the few days prior to my start reviewing lab values, calorie and protein needs for different disease states, and practicing TPN calculations. I knew I had to take advantage of the few hours of training I had before I was left as the sole dietitian of the facility.
The first few days alone on the job were an adjustment, to say the least. The facility was spread out with residents in multiple households, so it did take a few self-drawn maps to get me to remember which resident was where. Inevitably, multiple questions arose related to MDS schedules, Section K, and significant weight change protocols. Although I didn’t have another dietitian at the facility, I became extremely thankful for technology as I spent a lot of time texting or calling the previous dietitians of the facility.
It was also helpful to have supportive past preceptors from my internship, assuring me it was OK to text or call them if I wanted to ask any questions. One of the most beneficial things for me during the first month of my new job was my relationships with past classmates or interns, who were now my colleagues. It was a relief to hear that I wasn’t the only one who felt unsure about my abilities as a newly registered dietitian.
If you’re about to begin a career as a registered dietitian, don’t forget that all the hard work and experiences have prepared you for this moment. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the start of a new chapter in your life.
Bailie completed her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from Iowa State University and her dietetic internship with Iowa State University’s Iowa-based program with the international location based in Ghana, Africa. She started her dietetics career in Iowa as a contract dietitian for Dietitians on Demand and works at Bethany Life, a non-profit long term care facility in Story City, Iowa.