Dietetic Career Spotlight: Jessica Setnick, MS, RD, CSSD, CEDRD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RD on JUNE 19, 2012
Straight from one of the top nutrition experts on Eating Disorders, Jessica Setnick, MS, RD, CSSD, CEDRD, shares her story on how she pursued an entrepreneurial career path towards helping both clients and fellow dietitians gain a better understanding about eating disorders.
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I was an anthropology major and wasn’t sure how to make a career of that. I took nutrition as an elective and thought that it would make a good career. Initially I wanted to work for the Dallas Cowboys. It sounded very glamorous. As I pursued my master’s degree in sports nutrition, I realized I was more interested in the psychology and the anthropology of eating, so I was drawn to eating disorders as a specialty.
Your Job Title?
Director of Training and Education for Ranch 2300 Collegiate Eating Disorders Program;
Author of The American Dietetic Association Pocket Guide to Eating Disorders;
and Founder of Eating Disorders Boot Camp Training Workshop for Professionals.
Company you are with now?
All of this is under the umbrella of Understanding Nutrition, the business I started when I went into private practice.
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you.
There is no typical day, but I can describe a typical week. Monday is work from home day – make calls to doctors and therapists about mutual patients work on presentations and articles, respond to emails, and submit speaking proposals. Tuesday through Thursday go into the office to meet with patients from 10:30 am – 6 pm. I may have a lunch meeting, pay some bills, meet with interns and take some calls here or there if there is time. Friday if I am not traveling I might work from home. Usually I travel a couple times a month to give presentations or to visit Ranch 2300.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Networking, focusing on my niche, and being prepared when opportunity knocked.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born animated and energetic, and I was either born entrepreneurial, emotional and driven or else I learned those at a young age. It has not always been easy to fit in to society’s expectations with this combination. When I was a kid, it was hard for me to sit still and I did not like the structure of school and learning on someone else’s timetable. Being entrepreneurial and driven did not help me when working in the hospital, as I always saw a better way to do things and usually that was not appreciated. Being driven, and finding a lot of my self-esteem from being a good worker left me vulnerable to overworking, getting burned out, feeling unappreciated, and never being satisfied with myself. But ultimately all of these skills helped me once I became my own boss. I still wrestle with the demons of not feeling good enough, but I am free to take chances and do things my way, and sink or swim on my own merits. I have learned to harness my skills in a way that is satisfying to me and also meets the needs of my audiences. One skill I have learned along the way is that I don’t have to be good at everything and I am much better now at delegating.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
That’s funny because I don’t think that what I have done would necessarily work for others. They have to follow their path in their way. So I guess that is the advice – use your own strengths and do what seems right to you, even if you were taught in school that it’s not the “conventional” path. And if you are a more conventional person, then there’s nothing wrong with the conventional path. Don’t force yourself to be different just for the sake of being different. But if you feel you have something else to offer, you probably do! Find the crossroads where what you like to do, what you are good at, and how you can make a living all meet. And since work can’t fulfill all your needs all the time, attend to the other areas of your life as well. Some days, weeks, or years, you might get unbalanced, but over time you will need a balance or you will burn out. “Be yourself” seems like such trite advice, but it’s true! The same skills that made me frustrated with school and working in a hospital are the exact same things that my patients, my audiences, and Ranch 2300 say they love about me!
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
That’s funny, because I used to think that I would do my job for no money, because I really like it. But if I didn’t get paid with a paycheck, I would be forced to do something else. So now I really appreciate that I get paid to do the thing that I love!
Jessica Setnick introduced her compassionate and practical approach to helping individuals with eating disorders in 2003 with Eating Disorders Boot Camp. She is the author of The American Dietetic Association Pocket Guide to Eating Disorders and Director of Training and Education for Ranch 2300 Collegiate Eating Disorders Treatment Program. She is available for presentations and training workshops, and can be reached through her website: www.UnderstandingNutrition.com.