First and foremost, I want to say that the past month has been unbelievably uplifting in terms of the support of my new endeavor. A huge thank you to everyone out there who has shared positive uplighting words of wisdom and advice in light of my recent life changes. It has not been easily, and I am thankful to each and every person who has extended their words of encouragement and offerings of support. You rock!!!
Second, I am happy to share that I am happy. I went into this change not knowing what I was getting into, and I still don't understand the full extent, but God has a way of making things work out for the best and He has far exceeding my expectations to date. I am feeling blessed beyond belief to be surrounded by such a supportive network of friends, family and colleagues, and also to be working in a field I am extremely passionate about and can now shape my career as a dietitian to specifically reflect my strengths.
So here goes... a month in my life as a [self-employed] Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:
1. Blogging + Website Management
In terms of my website, I'm trying to keep up with regular blog posts, recipes and general management. On my slower days, I'm enjoying playing with my camera a little more to update some recipe photos and add new features or tweak existing ones.
2. Marketing, Networking + Business Management
Probably the most challenging aspect of this new endeavor of mine: self-promotion. I LOVE talking about what I do, but marketing for business promotion is definitely different and outside my comfort zone. That being said, I have only been met with a great level of support thus far and describing to others what I am doing has only strengthened my desire to continue in the direction I am heading.
Currently I'm designing a brochure to give to potential referral sources and below is my current "draft" (I really like how it is developing so far!) I've also applied for a National Provider Identifier (NPI) number and private practice insurance, and am working to establish a viable system for tracking financial records, business expenses, etc. This is definitely the biggest learn curve for me at this point and I am learning something new daily.
3. Clients + Contracts
I'm currently working with about four individual clients- an ironman triathlete, a marathoner, a cycling/general athlete and a participant in the upcoming Marathon de Sables. It is a small and manageable group to start and I am enjoying it, which is what matters most. I also have a few contract-based projects going on, such as re-writing a 2-week menu for a local juvenile center and developing a series of nutrition lunch n' learn seminars as part of the Town of Blacksburg wellness program! These projects, along with my teaching responsibilities at Virginia Tech, have been consuming the majority of my time.
4. Events + Presentations
I don't know why, but I really enjoy putting together different presentations. This is good, seeing that I have FIVE this month... Powerpoint is the go-to resource for presentations, but I use it plenty for class lectures and I have really enjoyed using PREZI as an alternative platform for greater freedom and creativity :) These presentations are about sharing information, yes, but to me they also seem to be a bit of an art project and outlet for my creativity. Below are a few of the presentations I'm giving in the coming weeks (not to mention class lectures also...)
5. Continuing Education
Last weekend, the hubby and I attended the UVA Running Medicine Clinic in Charlottesville. It was a great opportunity for both of us to learn more about how we can best help athletes optimize their health and performance through diet, exercise and therapy! I've also been taking time to read articles on private practice for dietitians and recently bought these two books (pictured on right) to dig into and continue the learning process. Bike trainer time has often been met with viewing of sports nutrition webinars online. I am finding that the continuing education comes easy when you are truly excited about what you are learning!!
Probably the thing I'm most stoked about right now: Pending official acceptance of my application, I will be taking the examination to become a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics in July! This is something that has been on my goals list since becoming a RD in 2012, and I pretty darn enthused that I will have that opportunity sooner rather than later! Today I was gifted with the study manual by my new professional mentor, and I seriously almost cried.. over a textbook... yup.
Up and Coming ...
I am trying hard to not work too far ahead and over-commit myself, but here are a few things I have planned professionally for the coming months...
That's all for today, and thanks for reading and learning a little more about what I have been busy doing as a dietitian. The saying "love what you do and never work a day in your life" certainly is ringing true right now, and I am excited to see what the future holds! Happy RDN Day to all of my fellow colleagues out there!!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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