A bunch of you wrote to me wanting to hear more about life as a dietetics student and/or intern, so I reached out and have some amazing personal stories for you all!
One of the most inspirational dietetics students I know is my friend Katrina. She somehow balances the crazy work schedule of a dietetics masters student with a 3-year-old at home — and makes it look easy!
So, she’s going to share a typical day of hers last week with you all…
Hi! I’m working on my M.S. in Nutritional Science and completing my coursework and rotations to become an R.D. I live with my husband and my preschool-aged son. Nutrition/dietetics is a big career change for me, after having several different careers in the past. It was a big decision to go back to school- but one that I’m very happy I made. My focus is clinical dietetics, and I hope to counsel patients to help them manage chronic diseases, in order to ultimately help them live happier and healthier lives.
Here is a fairly typical weekday for me, this one was last week…
6:15 a.m. Wake up, make a double espresso. Use my hour of personal time before my husband and son wake up to check email and do some work. Today I plotted the post-natal growth of an infant in a Case Study for my Maternal Infant Nutrition class. Later I’ll need to analyze his growth trajectory, nutritional status, and other aspects of his health, and make a plan for counseling him. This is a case study I’ll be presenting on (with a group of other students), so I’m trying to get some of it done early. Drink espresso.
7:30 a.m. My son wakes up and comes out to the living room to see me. Work stops. We go make and eat breakfast together. Me: bowl of granola (Trader Joes) with plain yogurt, walnuts, cashews, and a chopped up pear. My son: “toad-in-a-hole”: piece of toast with a hole cut out of it and an egg fried inside the hole, and pear slices. My husband is also up now – he works from home, and is usually the one to take my son to school, which allows me to get to class on time.
8:15 a.m. Leave for school. I bike to school whenever I can because I’m so busy with classes and family that biking is my best opportunity for exercise. It’s also fun. From my house to school is 5 miles, and it takes 30 minutes to get there (flat and downhill) and 40 minutes to get home (flat and uphill).
8:45 a.m. Get to school, put my bike in my bike locker, change out of my sweaty bike clothes in the bathroom, and get hot water to steep my mate (a South American drink that is similar to tea). I bring mate and a cup to school from home and keep it in my backpack. I drink the mate throughout classes.
9:00-10:50 a.m. Acute Care Nutrition class. The first half of class today was a lecture about chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, mucositis, and the concept of Strong for Surgery. During the second half of the class we had a guest speaker from a nearby hospital, an R.D. who spoke about nutrition for organ transplant patients. Amazingly, several of her patients have gone on to run half and full marathons. Very inspiring.
11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. Nutritional Epidemiology class. The first part of class was a lecture about the multifactorial etiology of obesity and several worksite intervention trials that have been tried to help people lose weight. Then, a student in our class (actually, Lisa!), presented a paper on a randomized controlled trial about the relationship between various diet and lifestyle interventions and weight loss, and whole the class discussed the article.
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Do some shopping at the campus bookstore, go to the library to print out some articles. When I need to read something carefully I like to read it on paper so that I can underline and make as many notes as I need to. Ate an apple, a handful of cashews and a small piece of dark chocolate in the library while working.
1:30 p.m. Bike home from school. Usually we have our thesis proposal class on Thursday afternoons, but today it is cancelled so we can work on our proposals independently.
2:15 p.m. Get home and take a shower.
2:30 p.m. Eat lunch with my husband. Lunch: huge salad made of whatever we had in the fridge: lettuce, chickpeas we soaked and cooked a few days ago, chopped baked potato from last night’s dinner, chopped carrot, walnuts, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and salt. Also a large piece of roasted kuri squash (roasted with coconut oil and salt). Another benefit of my husband working from home is that he can do things like throw some vegetables in the over while he’s working, which is really helpful with meals.
3:15 – 5:00 p.m. Walk down to a coffee shop in my neighborhood for a work session. Drink a cup of earl grey tea. Everyone in my graduate school dietetics cohort is required to give two wellness talks that we set up and plan ourselves. Last week a classmate and I did a wellness talk at a middle school, in which we talked about how to put together a balanced breakfast and the variety of different breakfast foods that are consumed around the world. Today, I received our evaluation form back from our preceptor (the supervisor at the site). I finished writing up a required document about what we learned from the experience, how our lesson plan went, and what we would change if we did it again. Then I uploaded that form, the evaluation document, and the worksheet we had used for the students. Then read over some comments and edits on my thesis proposal, in preparation to work on it later.
5:00 p.m. Go get the car and pick up my son at preschool (about 1.5 miles away from our house). Sometimes I walk there and my son and I take the bus home, but when I’m trying to maximize work time, I drive. Come home.
5:00-8:00 p.m. Family time. Playing games with my son, talking to my son and my husband, hanging out while my son is playing the guitar, getting dinner ready. Dinner (around 6:30): Field Roast apple sage vegetarian sausages, mustard, brown rice, more roasted kuri squash, and a salad (lettuce, carrots, celery, olive oil, vinegar, salt). My son eats the same dinner as us but not the salad- he’s not into vinegar (yet). We just give him some carrot sticks – no lettuce. After dinner, get my son into his pajamas and brush his teeth. More games and silliness. Now my husband will read him books and put him to bed, so that I can work a bit more.
8:00 – 11:00 p.m. Walk down to a coffee shop a few blocks away for more work. Work on my thesis proposal. Drink mint tea. My M.S. thesis is about the results of a controlled feeding trial looking at the relationship between consumption of different sugars and plasma levels of IGF-1, a growth hormone and cancer biomarker. Then I walk home.
11:15 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Wind down, brush teeth, talk to my husband, read an article in the New Yorker.
12:00 a.m. Go to bed!
Isn’t she amazing? If you have any questions about how Katrina balances her work and home life, comment below!