Dietetic Career Spotlight: Julie Koning, RD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on FEBRUARY 13, 2013
Ready to start your own business and be your own boss? Read on to see how Julie Koning developed her successful nutrition consulting firm. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
My interest started many years ago when I was a young adult and discovered how much food and nutrition affected my health. I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about natural health and nutrition that I collected over 50 books and more now on all types of subjects. Friends and family started asking me nutrition or health questions all of the time, so I finally decided to go back to school so I could actually do what I love for a living. I am so happy that I did. I love what I do!
Your Job Title:
Owner, Customized Health Solutions, LLC
Company you are with now?
I created Customized Health Solutions, LLC, to provide nutrition consulting services to the southeastern Michigan area. Currently, I have a private practice in Royal Oak and I do contract work for nutrition services for a physician’s practice, a corporate health company and other health professionals.
For over the last year I have also been working for WIC two days a week. Fortunately, my business is doing well enough now that I will no longer be supplementing my income as a WIC dietitian and will have my last day in the coming month. Unfortunately, I will miss all of my co-workers and clients there that I have come to know and love!
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Currently, I see clients by appointment only at my office in Royal Oak or their homes. Of course my days are often very different from each other. Currently, two of the days are occupied at WIC. A typical day may include seeing a client at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. to perform a metabolism test for RMR for a healthy weight program. Then I may have clients for medical nutrition therapy or follow-up appointments. Also, I have “phone check-ins” with clients scheduled and those calls last about 10 to 15 minutes. I may meet a friend for lunch, but usually I go home to see my dog and eat there. On a normal day I will be back to my home office by 5:00 p.m. to finish work for another hour or so to keep up with accounting and respond to emails. My days look different when I am at the doctor’s office. It is important to remember to stop for lunch! It gets very busy.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I knew I wanted to start my own business, so I started Customized Health Solutions, LLC over a year ago. The Dietetics Practice Groups like Nutrition Entrepreneurs and Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine have proven to be very helpful resources in assisting me with creating my private practice. A wonderful dietitian and exercise physiologist, Lisa Merrill, was my preceptor in college and provided me with contract work for her as well has been a great mentor. She has helped me immensely.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
My relatives like to tell me that I was “two going on thirty” and I would stand with my hands on my hips looking up at everyone expecting to be treated like an adult. Besides being precocious, I was born with the ability to identify problems and the adventurous spirit to try to invent different solutions. I have always been interested in helping others. I learned along the way to not take life so seriously. Having a good laugh can make a person’s day.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Never underestimate the power you possess. You never know how much you can do until you actively pursue and activate your dreams into reality. No, it may not “look” how you first perceived your vision to be, but that is what is so great: allowing the practice to evolve into something more or different then you even expected may be just what is needed for the people you are serving. Learn the rules of business, do your homework, create your business plan and assess your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and team up with or hire other professionals for the areas you don’t have time or the proficiency to undertake. Make a priority list. I think it is important to put family first. When you have your own business it can be easy to work all of the time, so make sure you draw clear boundaries and make your family and having your own “me time” a real priority.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
I would like to be paid with yoga classes and reflexology or massage therapy treatments! Well, I also wouldn’t mind being paid with a trip to swim with the dolphins, whale watching and seeing waterfalls with rainbows – sounds like a trip to Hawaii?!