Registered Dietitian Spotlight: Elisabeth DAlto, RD, LDN
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MAY 30, 2013
Meet Elisabeth D Alto, owner of a private consulting company and clinical dietitian in long-term care. Combining her passion for science with her flare for business has landed her two amazing jobs where she balances both worlds while finding fulfillment in her career. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I grew up in an Italian household where my dad was a gourmet chef and owner of two Italian restaurants and where food was the center of every occasion. While these meals were delicious, I quickly realized how they could have an effect on my health and well being, so I was eager to learn more about nutrition. I was also an avid soccer player from the age of 5 all the way through my college years, so I learned how nutrition can have a positive impact on sports performance. My aunt is also a registered dietitian, so I was fortunate to be able to shadow her at work when I was younger and learn all about clinical nutrition in long-term care. All of these reasons led me into the field of nutrition and dietetics.
Your Job Title:
Currently, I have two job titles. I am the owner of D’Alto Nutrition, LLC, a nutrition communications and consulting company that I formed in 2010. I am also a full-time Clinical Dietitian in long-term care.
Company you are with now:
D’Alto Nutrition, LLC and Genesis Health Care
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
A typical day as a long-term care Clinical Dietitian consists of performing nutritional assessments and evaluations for new admissions, meeting with the residents and their families to get to know them and accommodate their needs to the best of my abilities. I also work on creating interdisciplinary care plans to ensure all their needs are being met consistently. I’m currently focusing a lot of my energy on educating and in-servicing the employees, across all disciplines. I’m educating them on the F325 Regulation: Maintain Adequate Nutrition/Hydration Status so that we are within regulation for our next state Department of Health survey. I enjoy interacting with the staff and residents by providing them nutrition education through various forms of communication.
As the owner of D’Alto Nutrition, LLC, the types of projects I work on can vary. Some examples of recent projects include completing nutrition analysis for recipes, writing nutrition articles for local papers, magazines, and websites, consulting in a long term care setting by conducting clinical chart audits, and providing menu development and nutrition analysis for the Meals on Wheels program. I typically work on these projects in the evenings or the weekends, so it does not interfere with my full-time position but ultimately, my goal is to transition into working full-time for myself.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I’ve been working in long-term care since I graduated from my internship back in 2006 – giving me about 7 years experience in this niche industry. My friends would say I’m notorious for working several jobs at one time and simultaneously juggling different projects. I always want to push myself outside of my comfort zone, experience as much as I can, and network with the best in our field. Networking is what helped me land my current job. I just recently relocated from New Jersey down to Maryland where I bought my first home and was able to secure a full-time position with Genesis Health Care. It turns out that after I landed the interview, I found out that the Past President of the New Jersey Dietetic Association (NJDA) also works for the same company. I had become close with her while volunteering on the Social Media Committee for the NJDA a few years prior. Dietetics is small field – so network with everyone and don’t burn any bridges.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I believe that some of my innate skills include being personable, authentic, and honest. I’m a leader by nature but I also work well as a team player. I constantly have a running “to-do” list, so multi-tasking is a natural skill that I think I do well, along with many other type-A personality RDs. Over time, I’ve learned that you cannot please everyone, so don’t be too hard on yourself. I’ve also learned that it’s key to prioritize what is important to you in your life both personally and professionally, so that you have a better sense of direction.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
I think you need to have that constant, internal desire to want to improve your skills, network with your “RD idols”, and seek out opportunities that are outside of your comfort zone so you can grow not only as a nutrition professional but also as a person.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Vacation time. So I can travel the country and the world to test out different cuisines and explore different cultures, and ultimately write a book about it. Dream big or go home, right?