Dr. Meghan Scott, BScH, BScAHN, MBBS, RD
REGIONAL DIETITIAN & MLS NUTRITION
for something nutrishus
Meghan is such a great fit for the series, the Dr. (MD) credential makes her a unique feature right off the bat. She was very excited to find the series, and I agree "I totally wish there was something like this when I was in school". Along with her unique experiences, Meghan has also worked in a variety of countries and she has great advice to go with it all.
Why did you become a RD?
I love science, the human body and pathophysiology, and I wanted a job that included my intellectual interests and working closely with individuals. Being a Registered Dietitian seemed to fit the bill as a blend of those things.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
My title is Regional Dietitian, which includes almost every area of nutrition - clinical, administrative and community.
How would you explain what you do?
I do a little of everything, if it relates to food. The bulk of my job is out-patient nutrition, but because I’m in a rural/remote setting I also cover acute and long term care, and do a lot of telehealth consultations for people outside of town. I also travel to remote communities about twice a month to see clients and do health promotion activities. I help with managing the kitchen and the menu at the hospital, and sit on a variety of committees.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
When I’m in Inuvik it’s mostly clinical work – out-patient appointments with acute and LTC referrals mixed in. When I’m in a remote community, I do a mix of out-patient appointments and special events like attending health fairs (my display of the sugar content in pop is revolutionary, children’s activities like movie nights (I’ve seen cloudy with a chance of meatballs SO. MANY.TIMES.), group teaching (diabetes, prenatal classes) and nutrition bingo is always a hit!
What has been your career path?
Convoluted at best. I started in clinical nutrition, working in a big hospital right out of my internship. After about a year, I took some time off to travel and when I came back to Canada I decided to start my own consulting business, and ended up working at a jail! Really, I worked for the company that provided the meals for Ontario inmates, but the kitchen was attached to a jail, so it was an interesting environment. After that, I worked in long term care, which I loved! Then, the opportunity to work in the north came up, and I moved to the Arctic for my current position.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have a bachelors degree in biology and a medical degree. These have both broadened by knowledge outside of nutrition, which has helped me understand nutrition better. A few years ago I took the Intensive Sports Nutrition course offered by Dietitians of Canada, which was really interesting!
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
It would be wonderful if nutrition services were paid for by universal healthcare or corporate insurance programs so that RD services are accessible to everyone. It would also be awesome if everyone had access to healthy, culturally appropriate food, especially in hospital or long term care.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
We’re not the same as nutritionists/wellness coaches/personal trainers/whatever else! Our training and education is rigorous and we are THE experts on nutrition.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
We’re real people who enjoy our food, and just because we are passionate about healthy eating, that doesn’t mean there’s not room for enjoying junk food! Or that we don’t struggle with the same things as everyone else, such as not eating my body weight in ice cream.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
When I was an intern, my preceptor told me I would have to fight for my role on the healthcare team. I didn’t believe her but she was right. It continues to amaze me how little people (including other, very smart members of the health care team) don’t value the role of nutrition. There is a definite role for RDs in healthcare and we are the experts and the ones that should be filling that role. I have had to become much more assertive than I used to be, and to advocate hard for nutrition to be included in the plan of care.
What do people think that you do for a living?
I was crossing the border once, and the border agent asked me what I did for work. When I said “I’m a dietitian”, he said “What, so you, like, make diets for people?”. Yup, that’s exactly what I do.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
I’m most passionate about helping individuals figure out how healthy eating works for them. I’m a huge believer that one size does not fit all! Also, I love teaching people how their body works. It’s so fun to see the look in their eyes when they learn what their gallbladder does or where their pancreas is.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
Definitely our strong science background! Because we have solid knowledge of physiology and food science, we can fully understand how food works in our bodies and can help others understand why certain diets work (or don’t work). Being able to think critically about emerging science really differentiates us from the rest of the health/wellness group.
What is your favourite meal?
In my family it’s called ‘the shrimp dish’. It’s grilled shrimp with ginger, garlic, chili pepper, lemon juice and olive oil served on crostini. I would eat it 3x/day if I could.
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
Explore your opportunities and try new things! Remember that you can change your path throughout your career, you don’t have to get stuck in a job. Since everyone has to eat, there will always be a role for RDs in the world. Find the area you’re passionate about then get to work!
Anything else you’d like to add that you feel would be valuable:
Always think critically! Be skeptical and question everything, but be open-minded. Diet and nutrition seem to be full of charlatans, and I think it’s our job to be the voice on healthy eating.
More about Meghan: