Robyn Kievit Kirkman, FNP-BC, RDN, CSSD, CEDRD
DIETITIAN & FAMILY NURSE PRACTITIONER
for something nutrishus
Robyn is a unique addition to the series as she prescribes medicine in her practice and as you can see, she has quite a few credentials. Collaboration is a large part of her work and I appreciate her honesty in who she has working with her in her practice - for some new entrepreneurs it's difficult to envision how a business can come together and how a dietitian can 'do it all!'
Why did you become a RD?
To help consumers understand the science behind nutrition and put this into practice.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
Currently, I have a private practice in Boston and a second in Concord, MA. My focus is on sports nutrition, eating disorders and psychopharmacology.
How would you explain what you do?
Nutrition and food therapy first and foremost. For those clients who need medicine as it relates to both of these, I also can and do prescribe as an NP (Nurse Practitioner). On some teams and for some patients, I am the prescriber and there is someone else taking on the RDN role. I am very interested in collaboration and the team aspect of care in my private practice. Every day there are calls/emails with MD’s, other NP’s and RDN’s and multiple therapists. Clients I prescribe medicine for are experiencing anxiety and depression or both (also PTSD, OCD), as this relates to their eating. I prescribe medicines for all of these and work with clients to help reach their best place with food and their bodies.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
Patient and client appointments are priority. Then, collaborating with other team members who share these same patients. These two tasks take up most of my time. I have a virtual assistant who confirms appointments and does my billing through two companies, Healthie and Healthy Bytes, respectively. She also sends client receipts for medicine patients. I oversee a small business consultant who updates my website and publishes my monthly e-newsletter, Nutrition With Intention. Then, in December, I hired a PR consultant and she manages my social media; we converse nearly daily on email and collaborate using Buffer to plan all posts.
What has been your career path?
I became an RDN in 1994 and saw my first client in a small private practice that same Summer. I worked for nearly two years as a cardiac/HIV dietitian before moving from NJ to Boston. The move up here brought work in long term care and outpatient nutrition. During this time I was weighing whether to go back to school to be an NP or get a Masters in nutrition. I was accepted to a Masters in nutrition program but ultimately pursued the NP degree.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I went back to get my FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner) from 1996-1999. Throughout grad school I worked as an RDN and an RN (Registered Nurse) - also obtained in grad school. More recently in 2010 I went on to obtain the CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) credential and then three years ago the CEDRD (Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian).
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
I just wrote one of my newsletters asking other RDNs in the field this very question; I am borrowing from their answers, but I do agree with them wholeheartedly. I envision a closer relationship between the RDN and the farmer to educate the consumer and help strengthen this pathway in feeding our world. Secondly, I’d like to continue to see more RDNs join retail and grocery stores. This was something unheard of in 1994! Lastly, as an amazing colleague put it, let’s keep our ego out of the field. I could not have said this any better - her words!
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
The belief that we don’t eat anything that is not ‘clean, healthy, etc.’. I honestly prefer clients not use these words around food or their bodies: good, bad, sorry, should, can’t and healthy.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
We get a ton of education to be who we are - experts in nutrition! Just like you want the best cardiac surgeon for your heart surgery, please choose a credentialed, licensed and specialized RDN for your needs. Would you have open heart surgery from someone who took a three-week or three-hour course? Likely not.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
I’d like people to not think I am the food police. I had a double egg and extra bacon sandwich for lunch. With pesto and avocado. WE EAT! Also, as an RDN, my initial pay was quite low. Hence another reason I pursued the NP – for financial security.
What do people think that you do for a living?
Unfortunately, many believe that I make “food rules” and tell clients what to eat and what not to eat.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
Freeing consumers from food rules through nutrition science and really meeting them where they are and helping them adjust their lifestyle to where they are comfortable with food and their bodies.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
Our education. I didn’t sign up for bio-chem, microbio and o-chem because they sounded fun.
What is your favourite meal?
I am really picky about my cheeseburgers and fries. There are two restaurants in my town that I frequent for one of these once a week. With wine. And dark chocolate for dessert in quite a few different forms!
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
Two pieces of advice I was given and did not listen to or take with immediacy that I wished I did....which leads me to the third:
1. You can do it all, but not all at once.
2. Pick your niche and stick to it. If you don’t counsel GI clients, send them to another RDN who does.
3. You do your best at every moment. Don’t look back because you didn’t fail - you were doing your best.
Anything else you’d like to add that you feel would be valuable:
Gratitude to you for allowing me to share my story. Thank you!
More about Robyn: