Courtney Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN
LONG TERM CARE & REAL FOOD COURT
for something nutrishus
Courtney was recommended to the series by Stefanie. She is a dietitian that currently dabbles in many areas and is gradually transitioning between them. I think my 5 year ideals for the profession are in-line with Courtney’s (and others), which always makes me excited to see where dietetics and dietitian jobs are headed. We continue to see similarities and differences in dietitians and the areas they work in, but it’s always great to hear that we’re working to get more dietitians in more jobs and help clear up ‘what dietitians do’.
Why did you become a RD?
What a question! I thought I wanted to be a teacher like my aunt. The end of high school and into the beginning of college my love of fitness and food curiosity grew...My first day of sophomore year I went to an education class, looked around and said, “What am I doing here?” I immediately changed my major. To be honest, I don’t think I knew what being a dietitian meant until I was about to graduate from my senior year.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
Right now it feels like I work everywhere. I work in long term care because I enjoy the flexibility, but I have worked in neonatal and pediatric ICUs extensively before this. In addition to my clinical job, I do counseling in collaboration with a physical therapy clinic. I also have a nutrition consulting business that allows me to work in the media and do local speaking engagements. I love doing it all right now!
How would you explain what you do?
I am still working on my elevator speech because I feel that I do so many things right now! A lot of people are clueless as to what a dietitian does. When they ask I like to explain the typical tasks of a clinical dietitian such as nutrition support, charting, and education. I also love explaining to people the ways that I spread nutrition information and why brands value dietitians. People’s ears seem to perk up when I say I do television appearances.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
I don’t have any tasks I do daily just because I am in a day job part time while juggling my fun career endeavours. I attempt to blog weekly, and I post to instagram at least 5 days a week. My tasks for each week depend on if I have an event going on or coming up or if I have an upcoming TV segment. I always have something on my list related to planning or executing a media appearance. I do feel like I’m always doing different things which I am okay with because I am in an exploration phase of my career! I recently earned my personal training certification so I have had a lot of weekly to-dos centered around making connections in that realm and figuring out how I want to use that certification.
What has been your career path?
I think I alluded to this a bit. But, I started in a large teaching hospital working in the NICU and pediatrics for two years. I started to dabble in counseling and workshops and realized I didn’t like clinical and wanted a job with more flexibility. While long term care is still clinical, I liked the flexibility it would give me that the hospital didn’t. While in that job I was able to quickly begin the process of starting a nutrition program with a local physical therapy clinic. I also secured brand spokesperson roles for television segments, where previously I did TV for the hospital. As I got busier it was time to cut back at my day job. In March I started working 32 hours a week in order to make more time for clients. Now as I have more personal business opportunities as well as the ability to grow my counseling practice, but not the time to do both of those things, I decided to start working part time in October.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I went for my masters degree before my internship. It was unplanned, nothing ever goes as planned though does it? So that was a 2 year research intensive program which earned me my Masters in Human Nutrition. I am so grateful I went to grad school. I feel it gave me skills for my internship and beyond that I could not have gotten anywhere else. I also took my exam to be a personal trainer this summer.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
More out of the box jobs for dietitians! Dietitians in every company, working at news stations, and for magazines. I wish seeing a dietitian was as routine as going to the doctor.
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
Pursue what sounds interesting to you - even if it goes nowhere. If something makes you feel giddy and excited or gives you butterflies, move towards it. And certainly, don’t stay comfortable! Something may seem scary to do but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. You never want to regret not giving something new or cool a try!
What would you like people to know about RDs?
We are not the food police! We love food, we love alcohol, we love teaching balance!
More about Courtney: