Jobs in health care [Pictures]
Dietitian( Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun / July 2, 2014 )
Maureen Shackelford, a dietitian for 30 years, works at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
What does your job entail?
I am a dietitian in AAMC's DeCesaris Cancer Institute and the Wellness Center, so my responsibilities include nutrition screening for risk assessment, goal setting and defining care plans. Patients are counseled and coached on a regular basis in efforts to achieve agreed-upon goals. Cancer patients are at particular nutrition risk as they often experience nutrition impact symptoms that can interfere with their ability to meet their nutritional needs, such as taste alterations, pain, gastrointestinal issues and poor appetite. We follow these individuals closely to minimize these barriers and devise interventions to meet their needs.
What kind of schooling or training did you go through?
There are a few different routes to becoming a registered dietitian. I received a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and Master of Science program in nutrition, along with an internship. Once all requirements are met, you can sit for the registration exam. Some colleges offer a Coordinated Undergraduate Program in Dietetics that allows you to do the didactic as well as the internship required while obtaining your degree. Otherwise once you received your B.S. degree in dietetics, you then apply for internships, which can be competitive.
What inspired you to this career?
My sister was a senior in college studying dietetics and it sounded interesting, so I took a general nutrition 101 class and really enjoyed learning about the impact of nutrients in food and how they affected our body. I also enjoyed sciences.
What do you like best about your job?
I enjoy learning more about a science that is still evolving. I also like working with people and helping them strive towards better health through diet and exercise.
What are the challenges?
There are a few challenges. The biggest one is the abundance of misinformation about nutrition that the American public is bombarded with daily through talk shows, news media, movie stars or even friends and family. People tend to think if a study has shown a certain result than it must be so; however, real science evolves slowly and the type of study, number of participants, the sponsor of the study all need to be taken into account and then replicated over and over again with similar results.
The median salary for nutritionists and dietitians is $55,240 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.