Kirsten Screen, MPH, RD, LD
RUN LIFT RD
for something nutrishus
New interviews often remind me that in dietetics, I have found my tribe. I found the field in a similar way to Kirsten and have also always been in a non-traditional role; she provides me with hope that I will get back MY time once my children are older and I would love to sit down and enjoy breakfast with her, at any time of day. Do you see yourself in the responses? We face similar challenges, are life-long learners at heart, not just by trade, and we love food!
Why did you become a RD?
When I was a freshman in high school, our track coach gave us all some questionable nutrition advice, resulting in injuries and fatigue all around. I thought there had to be a better way to fuel our active bodies, so I bought a book on nutrition. I had no idea what a dietitian was and thought nutrition would be nothing more than a hobby for me.
When I got to college one of my mentors encouraged me to take an “intro to nutrition” class. I was hooked. After the first class I made an appointment with the professor to find out everything I could about becoming a nutrition professional.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I’m in private practice. I work with a lot of runners and triathletes, and I also have a lot of clients who come to me for help with managing their weight and general health. Most of my clients are motivated when they come to me, which is awesome!
How would you explain what you do?
Oh man, that’s a tough one! I am part coach, part cheerleader, part counselor, part accountability committee, part myth buster…I try very much to meet each client where he or she needs me. What I mean is, for some clients I provide a step-by-step plan on what they should tackle – because that is what those clients need. For others I’m more of a sounding board. It just depends on what is needed!
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
Believe it or not, most of my daily tasks don’t involve other people at all! So much of what I do is electronic these days. There’s always email (so much email!) to catch up on, the website to work on, new blog posts to write…I’m working on a new packaged program right now that I’m hoping to get out in the next month or so.
I work closely with my local running store (love those guys!), because it’s an environment I love. (If you don’t hang out with any runners, find some! They are some of the most positive people you’ll find.) I get a good chunk of my clients through the running community as well, so I’m always working on new information to share with them.
I see my clients both in person and through Telehealth, and all of my ongoing clients have access to me through email and secure chat, so I’m usually checking in with a bunch of them during the day as well.
What has been your career path?
I’ve never worked in the traditional dietetics settings, and that was by choice. My first job after completing the internship was with as Asst. Manager of Nutrition Supports for eDiets.com (remember those guys?), which was an online meal plan company. After that I moved into corporate wellness, first at a large power utility in Florida, then at a smaller utility in North Carolina. I loved the wellness setting!
When we had our kids, I quit my job and stayed home with them. While I saw the occasional nutrition client, I spent a few years helping my husband build our IT consulting company – totally not in the nutrition world! It was the perfect way to keep my brain in the working world, while having the flexibility to take care of my kids.
Once our youngest started Kindergarten, I knew it was time to get back into MY world, but on my terms. So I started my private practice.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I have a Master of Public Health with a specialty in Community Health, and I became a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) while I was doing my dietetic internship. I also became a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT) during my dietetic internship. I was very tired during my dietetic internship! Haha.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
In an ideal world, the dietetic professional is the only person consulted for nutrition information. In an ideal world, the RD credential is well known to the public – and well recognized and utilized by fellow professionals. In an ideal world, the media stops proliferating nonsensical fads intended to scare the public and make someone money.
What misinformation about RDs would you like to clear up?
That we are the food police! I literally had someone freak out in front of me yesterday because she was eating a slice of pizza and found out I’m a dietitian. We love food. That’s why we work in a profession that is all about how awesome food is.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
I wish people knew that dietitians can work with every disease state and with every stage of life, that we can help make eating fun again – and take the stress out of something so basic. Our goal is to make things work for you – not to push an agenda.
What are challenges you encounter as a RD?
Constantly having to fight the misinformation in the media.
What do people think that you do for a living?
People think I tell people what to eat. And they think I police everyone’s food.
What are you passionate about in dietetics?
Everything! That’s a lame answer, I know, but it’s true. My husband (whom I met on the first day of my internship) says that’s one of the reasons he married me: because I get really animated and passionate about what I do.
What makes RDs unique/different from other nutrition/wellness professionals?
We know the science, and we’ve been tested in that science time and time again. And we continue to be held accountable to the science – and to the ethics that come with counseling. We’re uniquely trained to be able to work in all sorts of settings, with all sorts of disease states, to address all sorts of needs.
What is your favourite meal?
Breakfast – in any shape or form! I’m definitely a “sweet breakfast over savory breakfast” person, but I don’t discriminate. I love breakfast!
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
If you’re a fellow dietitian, I’d say whatever you’re passionate about, live in that space. You won’t agree with all other dietitians (there are several different schools of thought in our industry, just like in every other industry), and that’s cool. We can all coexist and give our best to our clients.
If you’re a layperson looking for direction when it comes to nutrition, find a RD/RDN. You won’t find anyone better equipped to help guide you in a way that works for you and is scientifically sound.
More about Kirsten:
Facebook: Runliftrd, LLC