Are you a new dietitian? Still a student? A career changer? Today we reflect on Quynh’s road less traveled and catch up with Aliza as she finishes her studies. And just hopefully, one of these stories inspires you to nominate a colleague for a MAND award or honor by January 15th, 2021! Lastly, Socials for Success has moved their event: “The History of Food Policy with Food Historian Sarah Lohman” to Wednesday, December 16th.
The Less Traveled Path
By Quynh Tu RD, LDN
Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” created a swirl of feelings for me during the winter of 2003. My husband and I, after some debate, had decided to relocate to Arizona for my husband’s new job, but moreover, so I could complete my long-term dream of obtaining a college education.
Though I had always aspired to pursue a degree in engineering, I surprised myself and others when I changed my path to nutrition and dietetics. It was not easy, but after having witnessed a large healthy disparity amongst minority communities, I was inspired to take action. Too many times, I had seen members of minority groups struggle with dietary recommendations, which resulted in the absence of social/cultural understanding and low self-efficacy in these communities.
I started my education at a community college in Arizona, where they offered a Dietetic Technician program. I later transferred to Arizona State University to start as a full time dietetic undergraduate. After my graduation with Magma Cum Laude, along with the big disappointment that I did not get a match for Dietetic internship, I obtained my DTR credential. I worked at a subacute medical facility to gain clinical experience, and finally got in Dietetic Internship on my third year of DICAS application!
Today, I work as an outpatient Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Beside English, I also provide consults and diabetes education to the Chinese and Vietnamese communities. I am humbled every time I assist my clients reach their nutrition goals and here them acclaim: “I never met a dietitian that actually shares our culture!”
Unfortunately, there are many other communities and patients that are still underserved in dietetics. To truly improve health outcomes, we need to invest in improving the demographic of dietetics professionals (1,2) to better match the needs of our communities. The top seven communities in Massachusetts “speaking English less than very well in percentage of total population” are: Arabic (41.5%), Chinese (50.9%), Haitian (44.4%), Portuguese (43.5%), Russian (39.7%), Spanish (41.1%), and Vietnamese (61.2%) (3). We need to go beyond cultural competence and obtain cultural humility.
As Registered Dietitian in practice, we know that lifestyle intervention goes beyond language interpretation and food recall. We need nutrition professionals who have a deep understanding of the meaning behind choices and beliefs, and whom then advocate for these communities struggles and provide culturally relevant education. Only then we can help improve the self-efficacy of these communities. Even with current work of diversity, equity and inclusion, there is still an abundance of work that needs to be done, gaps to be closed and mountains to move.
If you ask me if I still think that a career in dietetics is a prudent choice? My answer will be from the same poem…
Two Roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the differences.
I invite you to join me on this less traveled path and make it a paved road: continue to advocate for the underrepresented communities and cultivate a more vibrance dietetics tapestry.
Quynh Tu RD, LDN is the State Professional Recruitment Coordinator & Diversity Liaison of MAND. If you are interested in learning more, or even better, joining the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of MAND, go to the MAND DEI website page. Quynh can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Commission on Dietetics Registration – RD and RDN demographics by state(MA) https://www.cdrnet.org/registry-statistics?id=3692&actionxm=ByDemographicsByState&state=Massachusetts&total_count=2928
(2) Commission on Dietetics Registration – DTR and NDTR demographic by State (MA) https://www.cdrnet.org/registry-statistics?id=3691&actionxm=ByDemographicsByState&state=Massachusetts&total_count=58
(3) Statistical Atlas – Overview of Massachusetts https://statisticalatlas.com/state/Massachusetts/Overview (data retrieved on October 14, 2020)
MSDA Featuring Aliza Baskir
Not everyone starts their career in dietetics. Some work in education, business or even as data scientist. Prior to studying nutrition, Aliza Baskir, did just that!
Aliza received her BA in Mathematics and MA in Statistics at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Hunter College in Spring 2017, and then started her career as a data scientist at Optum Health. Here she moved up the ranks, and eventually became a project manager, where she facilitated a team of data scientists and researchers to answer some of the most current healthcare questions. But her real passion lied in the power of food in healing, and helping others become their healthiest selves. So it was with this that she took the next steps to fuse her passion for health, nutrition and technology innovation. She entered Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy with a concentration in Nutrition Interventions, Communications, and Behavior Change in 2018. In addition to her master’s degree, she is concurrently enrolled in a DPD program at Simmons University in the hopes of completing her Dietetic Internship in Fall 2021.
Aliza’s eventual career goals are to gain clinical nutrition experience and ultimately open up her own eating disorders private practice. When not focused on her work, Aliza enjoys exploring new cities and new cuisines, meditation through yoga and running. Watch out for this up and hopeful dietitian!
MAND Awards and Honors
Don’t miss this opportunity to be recognized or to recognize your colleagues!
Every year, MAND offers multiple opportunities for outstanding members to be recognized in the following categories at ANCE 2021:
- Outstanding Dietetics Student
- Emerging Dietetic Leader
- Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year
- Outstanding Dietitian of the Year (Annie Galbraith Award)
- Outstanding Dietetics Educator and Preceptor
Why should you apply for an award or nominate a colleague for an award?
Applying for an award is a fantastic way to be recognized for contributions to nutrition and dietetics in Massachusetts. Award honorees are recognized at a ceremony and reception each year during ANCE (MAND’s Annual Nutrition Convention and Exhibition), but receiving an award is much more than pure recognition.
The honor of being recognized in one of these categories is something that you will keep with you throughout your entire career in nutrition and dietetics. It is something that can go on your resume, it is a talking point in interviews, and it will always be something that sets you apart from your colleagues. Furthermore, if you are new to the field of Dietetics, this can immensely boost your career opportunities and professional image.
The application process is simple. You need to fill out the application and provide a resume and letters of support. That’s it!
The submission deadline for all applications is January 15th, 2020. Please visit the MAND website Scholarships and Awards page for additional information.
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