Happy Registered Dietitian Day! How ironic is it #nationalpotatochipday and Pi Day (3.14) fall on RD Day?! I think all RD’s will agree we have a mutual love for potato chips and pie.
First, I want to recognize all of the dietitians; this diverse field is full of extremely smart men and women who work to ensure proper nutrition for all walks of life at all different stages of life. Most people assume (and we completely get it, the media has made it seem that way) we’re just around to talk about weight loss and the latest fitness trends. But we’re do so much more! Some dietitians provide nutrition counseling and fitness training, some work in providing enteral and parenteral nutrition (through tubes and IVs), others work on helping those with eating disorders, form policies, create formulas, provide education to medical professionals, etc. The list goes on and on, you can find a job in almost any area with the degree we obtain.
Today I thought I would share what I do as a dietitian as just a little insight into this field. I work as a trauma/surgery nutrition support dietitian at our Level 1 Trauma Center. Nutrition Support is exactly how it sounds: providing nutrition to “maintain and/or restore” someone’s nutritional status. I do this by providing specifically made formulas (think like a smoothie that contains all of your protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals) through a tube going into the patients stomach, or coming up with a specific prescription to be administered through an IV (when the stomach doesn’t work). I provide this type of therapy to patients who have been in a traumatic event, such as a car crash, suffered a large injury, or require emergency surgery. I am sure you are thinking, as are most people when I come in the room, these people can wait to have food when they are this sick, but nutrition is key in helping these patients with wound healing and recovery. Trauma/surgery severely depletes your nutritional stores and we have a small window to start replacing essential nutrients. So, I work with an amazing team of surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, and therapists to come with a daily plan and ensure the patient is receiving adequate nutrition, and maintain fluids and electrolytes to get better. Nutrition is a very complex field that has to understand the chemistry and physiology behind the human body; we have to know how the different nutrients affect each function and what is beneficial at that stage of life. In surgery, nutrient absorption is altered and we as a team have to make sure the patient is utilizing our nutrient provision correctly. It is very different from what people picture a dietitian doing or what I thought I would ever do, but it has been the most rewarding career. I get to see nutrition make a difference in a very challenging field on a daily basis. I have also learned the importance of team work, and what it takes to help get these patients better. It takes all members, coordinating together, and learning from one another!
“Let food be thy medicine” by Hippocrates could not ring more true for us dietitians. Over the years we have taken what Hippocrates has said and worked to improve the health of each individual. Whether we are fighting for policy change in government, developing medical formulations to heal the sick, counseling those in the fight against eating disorders, prepping Olympic athletes, or counseling someone on making better food choices, the dietitian is there to make food your medicine. Happy RD Day to all of the dietitians out there!