My Dream Was To Become a Registered Dietitian

I had many roadblocks leading into University. I came from a very low-income, one parent family and was the first in my family to go to University.

I started working at a very young age and worked almost every day after school to save money to pay for my education. I was often told University was too expensive and not a good idea which only motivated me to work harder and prove them wrong.

I had to leave home before finishing high school, which caused me to grow up even faster and have the responsibilities no one else my age had.

After graduating I actually applied for internships three years in a row and to my surprise, was unable to obtain one.

I find the competitiveness in the field of Nutrition is fierce and that’s not my nature, I like to help others succeed with me. The problem is the very limited internships despite so many qualified graduates.

I wish the Nutrition program was like all of the other health care careers; nurses and respiratory therapists do their in-hospital training prior to graduating. Not graduating, then hoping for an internship sometime afterwards before you can hold the title you went to school for.

I did everything I was told to do to help me obtain an internship. I volunteered countless hours, studied hard and worked in retirement homes, nursing homes, hospitals, research and health clinics.

Some of my colleagues got an internship on their second or third try and landed great positions. Some got the internship, but are still looking for a position as a Registered Dietitian. Some colleagues of mine started their own business rather than putting the fate of their career and goals in someone else’s hands!

Fortunately, despite not being able to obtain an internship, all those experiences and jobs I worked to gain experience to help make me more qualified for the internship led me to where I am today. I love working at my hospital.

After graduating I left my position at the retirement home to go backpacking for 3 weeks, moved and then found two positions related to the field.

I worked for the Wharton Medical Clinic as a nutritionist and also worked at Trillium Hospital in food service. My experiences in these positions helped me to obtain a position as a Dietetic Assistant at my hospital and a research position with McMaster University.

I am now working as a supervisor in the food services department.

Although I didn’t get my dream job as a Dietitian, I feel very fortunate to have had the many opportunities in health care. I spent three years applying and making every decision in my life based on the internship.

Now, rather than putting things on hold, we are planning our wedding and plan to have kids soon. I no longer feel the rush to get everything done before these important life plans. I may later down the road update some courses and re-apply for the internship, perhaps more positions will be created, but at this point in my life I am happy to be working in a great career related to my field!

Author: Ashleigh Newell

Ashleigh graduated with a Bachelors of Applied Science Foods, Nutrition and Related Services from Ryerson University.

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  • Sanaz Baradaran

    What an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing. I pursued dietetics after completing years of post-secondary education in life sciences. I was always very interested in practicing as a dietitian, but because I was overweight, I didn’t think it would be a good choice for me. Learning more about the field (as a hobby) made me realize what nutrition and dietetics is all about, and so, I pursued studies in this field. Unfortunately, despite my qualifications I have not been able to find opportunities in health care yet. I do my best to grow professionally and extend my private practice. However, my dream of working in a non-private health care setting has not become a reality yet.

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Ashleigh. We worked together in undergrad, and I remember you were super sweet and hardworking. I wish nothing but the best for you!