1. Tell me about your journey to becoming a dietitian?
I started out in school not really knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up but knew it had to involve science and math since these were my strong areas in school. After a few years at another school, I decided on pursuing nutrition as my career and found a school locally. I loved the first several nutrition classes in my first year and knew this was the path for me. After obtaining my bachelors degree and passing my RD Exam, I chose to stay on and continue in the new masters in sports nutrition program my school was offering.
2. Can you recall a moment in your undergraduate/graduate/internship time when you felt you just couldn’t wait for your future as an RD?
Just like many nutrition students, I had the hopes and dreams of making a difference in people’s lives, and I couldn’t wait to get to the workforce. The internship was definitely a critical time in my life. I got to experience the many possibilities of what a dietitian can do. During the internship, I found a greater love for clinical nutrition and not as much of a desire for foodservice. Without the internship, I would’ve had to try out these areas on my own.
3. Think back to what you imagined your career would be like when you were in school, how is it the same or different?
I had a big desire to work with athletes while in school, hence the decision to pursue the sports nutrition degree. My hopes were to score a job with a sports team, college or professional. As luck would have it, the number of sports nutrition positions were not in the highest demand. Right out of school, I took a few jobs working in long-term care as the clinical dietitian and loved it. At one of my positions, a very unique job opened up locally where they were looking for a sports dietitian. I then applied for the job and graciously accepted the position where I worked for a large food company who had a sports nutrition line of products. My job entailed speaking directly to consumers using the products and discussing how it can help with their athletic performance. This position taught me so much about customer service and groomed me to excel in this category. Learning this very critical trait has been essential in my business. I treat every customer as my number one client.
4. Tell me more about Visual Veggies and how you created it.
Software development began as a hobby when I was in my internship. I bought how-to books and was active on software development forums. Much of the learning came through trial and error. As I was finishing up my internship, I knew I had my own RD Exam in my near future. I went through all of my textbooks and notes from school and developed a question database. This was actually my method of learning for the exam. After the database had been completed, I started working on the actual RD Practice Exam program and had the project completed in a few short months. I then sent out mailers to all the nutrition schools in the US to spread the word, and that was just the beginning. From there, the software had evolved, the question database had grown, and the majority of sales simply came from word-of-mouth.
5. Is Visual Veggies your full time job or do you work other dietitian related positions on the side?
Currently, I do have a full-time position and the business is a side job. However, I do foresee the software as being my full-time job in the near future.
6. Where do you see your future as a dietitian?
I will continue my work as a software developer and keep current with my learnings in nutrition. My desires are to build the software company and to continue to support students preparing for their registration exams.
7. If you could only share one resource with soon to be interns and/or soon to be dietitians what would you share?
If you are stuck or don’t know the answer, don’t be afraid to ask. I was a doe-eyed young nutrition pup myself once too. We all were. I had some wonderful mentors,preceptors, and colleagues who I could turn to and ask anything I needed more clarification on, and they were more than happy to instruct. This is a valuable way we learn. Then, what goes around, comes around. As you develop and become wiser in the profession, you very well may have some student dietitian, intern, or new employee who needs your help. Pass on the torch and be the mentor to them.
8. What are your hobbies?
Besides software development, I also enjoy exercising, competing in triathlons, and watching movies.
The practice exams contain questions comparable to what is asked on the actual exam and are timed tests to simulate the pressure of test-taking with limited time.
The RD Practice Exam is more than just a multiple-choice study guide. The program provides immediate feedback on whether the selected answer is correct or incorrect. A detailed description accompanies each question to explain more about the topic for a full learning experience.
The software also keeps track of previous tests taken and the student’s progress in each domain, illustrated as a bar graph. Students can also email the dietitian directly if they become stumped on a specific question!