How to Grow As a Nutrition Professional

Registered dietitians and credentialled nutrition professionals are some of the most motivated and driven people I’ve met! We are always looking for ways to grow as a nutrition professional so we can better help our clients meet their goals. Pretty admirable if you ask me!

In this article I’ve gathered the top tips for how to grow as a nutrition professional.

Tip 1: Grow and nurture your network

Your network is just as necessary to foster career growth as your credentials are. 

I know this may be hard to hear as dietitians because we put a tremendous amount of resources into earning and defending our credentials. But it is true. 

Your network is what will help you grow as a nutrition professional, more so than any letters after your name. 

The best way to nurture your network is to be helpful to others. Be giving, caring and honest. Make a good impression and pay opportunities and advice forward. 

My favorite way to grow my network is active participation on LinkedIn. This has led to countless professional opportunities and growth for my business. 

If would like to learn more about how to leverage LinkedIn for career growth as a dietitian, check out my course, Networking for Nutrition Professionals. 

Tip 2: Move outside your comfort zone.

In my experience, dietitians like to feel really sure about something before we do it. We want to do our research and make sure we are comfortable with our recommendations. 

But sometimes when an opportunity arises, we need to do things before we are ready in order to grow as a nutrition professional. 

Staying in our comfort zone might actually be doing patients who need our help a disservice. We need to be willing to stretch and learn new things to stay competitive in a very crowded healthcare market.

I’m not saying be irresponsible, but I’m saying check in on our comfort zone occasionally and ask yourself honestly if you are stepping up to new challenges. 

Tip 3: Pick a Specialty.

There is nothing wrong with being a generalist. It’s a fantastic way to learn. However, picking a speciality can help you grow as a nutrition professional because you have to go deep.

Picking a specialty does not have to mean selecting a niche, your specialty can be a population you serve or something unique about your practice. 

Having a specialty can also help you grow from a business sense because it can become easier to market to clients and referring providers when you have a clear specialty. 

Tip 4: Ask for feedback. 

Asking for feedback is not easy. At least for me it isn’t.  

But knowing how your clients and colleagues perceive you can be a helpful tool in growing as a nutrition professional. 

If you are a business owner, there is nothing like word of mouth and social proof. In fact, one of the best things you can do for another dietitian is recommend their services to someone who needs them.

Ask clients for reviews and include them on your website, in your marketing materials, and ask them for Google reviews if you have a Google business profile. 

You don’t have to ask everyone for a review. And it’s always good to keep in mind that feedback is just someone else’s opinion. It’s not a reflection of your value as a human or even a dietitian. 

Tip 5: Protect Your Boundaries.

If you are a good worker,  everyone will want a piece of you. And while it’s nice to be sought out, sometimes you have to protect your boundaries to grow as a nutrition professional. 

When working within an organization, this might be declining additional hospital committee work so you can better support your clinical nutrition team with onboarding new dietitians. 

In private practice, it might mean referring patients out who would be better suited working with a different dietitian. 

Regardless, sometimes you have to prioritize what is most important and lean into that. Otherwise you are working on other people’s priorities. 

You get to decide when and how often you want to be flexible with your boundaries. 

Tip 6: Find Inspiration Outside of Food and Nutrition. 

I have a chef- friend who is one of the most creative people I know. I always remember her saying that when she feels burnt out or in need of inspiration, she looks outside of the food world. 

She looks in nature or art or fashion. And even though she feels a little funny turning her mind away from food, she returns to her work rejuvenated and with new inspiration. 

I think this is important for dietitians because we tend to be so passionate about our work that it can feel hard to separate ourselves from nutrition. 

But allowing ourselves the space to take a step back from our work and know that there is more to life than nutrition will, paradoxically, help us to grow as nutrition professionals. 

Tip 7: Cross pollinate with allied disciplines.

As dietitians we know that healthcare is siloed. But collaborating with and learning from other disciplines enhances patient outcomes and helps us grow as nutrition professionals. 

This does not have to be anything fancy. It could simply be committing to good working relationships with the allied professionals in your working environment.

Or it could be more structured where you hire allied professionals into your business or serve on boards and committees with them. 

Either way, LinkedIn is a great place to get this going!

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