Becoming a Dietetic Technician – A Reflection on the Process
This post is going to be a little bit different from my other posts. I like to discuss science, food, recipes, and nutrition facts but today I thought I’d talk about why I am qualified to talk about those things.
I am a Dietetic Technician, and my path to becoming a dietetic technician involved a lot of work.
The work I put into my certification and credentialing is why I am qualified to educate people on food and nutrition topics.
So how did I get here?
My Path to becoming a Dietetic Technician
Like I mentioned in my about me page, my passion for nutrition stems from being diagnosed with celiac disease.
I’ve known since the end of my sophomore year in high school when I was diagnosed was with Celiac Disease, that I wanted to pursue nutrition in some way.
I researched different careers in nutrition and health and wellness and I kept running into the same problem.
None of the career paths had me working in the profession fast enough.
Until I found out about Dietetic Technicians (DT).
While I knew I wanted to be more than a Tech, I chose to become a dietetic technician registered (DTR) first so that I could start getting experience in the field as soon as possible.
If you know me, you know that when I want to do something, I want to start doing it immediately and becoming a DT was the fastest way for me to do that.
Dietetic Technician Program Overview/Reflection:
You are thrown into a coordinated internship the moment you start your classes.
You then complete 450+ internship hours while taking dietetic classes.
After completing all of your ACEND accredited coursework and completing your 450+ internship/practicum hours, you have to study for the registration exam so you can practice.
Finally, after studying and passing the exam, you are a Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR).
(You are also eligible for the DTR exam if you don’t get matched for an internship after graduating with your Bachelors in Dietetics).
This is also not a walk in the park. It is hard.
My class dropped from 22 students in our first year to 9 in our last year.
Reflection on the Classes
At my school, our program classes involved a lot of things but mainly medical nutrition therapy and a lot of culinary classes.
The combination of the two focuses is really what sparked my passion for combining the two in recipe development. Teaching people about eating healthy goes hand in hand with teaching them how to eat healthily.
And how can you teach them how to eat healthy without knowing how to cook for yourself. Not only that but learning the basics of classic dishes has given me the foundations to develop recipes confidently.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a chef, but I am definitely well-equipped with knowledge surrounding the kitchen and cooking.
I didn’t always feel this way about my culinary training, in fact, during my first class, I was very skeptical about how necessary the classes were (I also was horrified by our chefs uniform).
However, throughout my education and getting to know my instructors cultivated a passion for being in the kitchen.
By the end of it all, being in my chef’s coat gave me pride and made me want to cook amazing food!
Not to mention the whole experience was amazing for giving me the tools to develop meal plans for healthy people and specialized meal-plans for certain disease states (connecting it back to medical nutrition therapy as always).
Reflection on the Internship
Going to class full-time and working part-time as a Dietetic Technician Intern is not easy. I spent a lot of time in long-term care homes, school kitchens, community wellness centers, and hospitals.
What people don’t tell you is that your internship requires you to get hands-on while also doing heavily involved assignments.
Both of which are invaluable as they help cement knowledge into your brain and demonstrate your skills. However, despite being valuable, it was overwhelming at times.
I’d spend my days meeting with long-term care patients, collecting diet histories, assisting with inventory, observing dietary managers manage staff, and more.
However, I think the most hands-on I got was when I interned at the OSU Wexner Medical Center.
Here my classmates and I essentially worked as Dietetic Technicians. Screening patients for nutrition risk, writing up chart notes and then having the DTR’s working at the hospital sign-off on our notes. On top of that, we provided diet and drug interaction education to patients and conducted a lot of case studies on patients.
It definitely put our medical nutrition therapy knowledge to the test.
It was a lot of work but it was definitely worth it. I came out of my Dietetic Technician program with a good idea of what the different areas of the nutrition field would expect from as a DTR. I can also say because of my practicum/internship, I am prepared to meet those expectations.
Why wouldn’t I just go straight for a Bachelor’s degree and become a Registered Dietitian?
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to get my hands and feet wet as fast as possible.
Dietetic Technicians can do everything a Dietitian can do under their guidance and supervision.
This is exciting for me because it means I can start practicing while other students are still in school!
Also, if I am being 100% honest, the match rate for internships for Student Dietitians scared me. And if you don’t get matched with an internship after graduation, you have to wait another year to try again. (I also didn’t know you could sit for the DTR exam and work as a DTR until you get matched – if you didn’t get matched. If only I had done my research…)
Not to mention, I wanted to get out of the entry-level job industry as fast as possible because I have goals (one of which is to start paying off student loans ASAP).
What’s next for me?
Now that I am officially a Nutrition Dietetic Technician Registered (NDTR) or (Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR)), I want to start helping.
I plan on continuing to develop content for my website while also getting experience in the field.
On top of all that, I am working to become a Registered Dietitian, so I can practice nutrition and dietetics on my own.
How I can help you now:
While I can’t provide nutrition guidance unless I am practicing under the license of a dietitian, I can still help.
I can provide classes on general nutrition concepts.
This might involve speaking engagements, 1 on 1 discussions, and culinary demonstrations.
I can educate on cross-contamination and gluten exposure prevention.
This can involve a variety of things:
◊ Talking with you and family members on best practices when serving celiac or gluten-intolerant individuals
◊ Educating you on foods that are safe and not safe
◊ Providing you with hacks and support on how to transition to a gluten-free lifestyle (that was recommended previously by a dietitian or doctor)
◊ Talking with restaurants on ways they can provide celiac and other gluten-free guests with safe food
◊ Identifying gluten-free menu options (or altering current menu options to be Gluten-Free) for Restaruants
And so much more!
Want to talk more about ways I might be able to help YOU!
Want to learn more about my experience and process of becoming a DTR?