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Career Profile: Registered Dietetic Technician

Career Profile: Registered Dietetic Technician

Antoinette Colbert, B.S., Registered Dietetic Technician (RDT), Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

I chose this career because…

I chose to become a registered dietetic technician during my career exploration in high school. When I was 16, my mother took me to a nursing home to seek a job and explore the field of nursing. There were no openings as a nurse’s assistant, but there was an available position in the nutrition department. While working with the dietician there, I became very interested in the field. I soon realized that good nutrition had a lot to do with a person’s well being. Because of my experiences there, I knew that working in nutrition was what I wanted to do.

• Associate of Arts, Dietetic Technician, Montgomery College, Silver Spring, Maryland
• Associate of Arts, Health Management, Montgomery College, Silver Spring, Maryland
• Bachelor of Science, Health Management, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

My typical workday involves…

My typical workday revolves around my patient care and management duties.

More on Nutrition/Dietetics

Salary: $29,860 - $68,200
Min. Education: Bachelor's
Related Careers: Physician, Psychologist

Major clinical (patient care) duties include:

• Assessing new patients to plan patient care. We retrieve information from our computer database about their health status and determine the level of care they need. They may see a technician or require intervention by a registered dietician.
• Managing patient care. If the assessment indicated a technician-level intervention, we manage their nutrition care while they are at the clinical center.
• Documenting all patient intervention and data in our computerized MIS (management information system). This includes recording patient allergies, special diets, and tracking room service orders.
• Educating patients about possible drug and nutrient interactions.
• Assisting registered dieticians with patient care or clinical studies. For example, we have done clinical studies on calcium and vitamin C.
• Participating in regular in-service training to keep updated in the field.

Major management (room service) duties include:

• Managing room service for all clinical patients. We act as a liaison between the food service manager and the dietician. For example, if a tray doesn’t arrive at a patient’s room, we track what happened and alleviate the problem.
• Documenting customer service details in the Management Information System.

What I like best and least about my work…

What I like best about my work is interacting with patients. I meet daily with people from all nationalities. I feel enlightened just by exposure to patients who have been through so much adversity and yet persevere. My teachers used to say, “Its not always about the food, but the interactions you have with your patients.” They were right. I find it very rewarding.

What I like least about my work is when I feel I cannot meet the needs of a patient, or I get close to them and then lose them.

My career goals…

My short-term career goals are to take a lactation seminar that will result in certification. In the future, I’d like to do some counseling with younger students about weight management and nutrition. I’d like them to understand the dynamics between good nutrition and health and disease prevention.

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