Dietetic Career Spotlight on Alicia Connor, Chef, MD Weight Management
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MARCH 12, 2018
Meet Alicia Connor, MA, RDN, who made a career change from a cook and chef to a dietitian. Her perseverance, hard work, and determination helped her complete her 7-year education path towards a successful job. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
My first career was as a cook and chef and I continue to enjoy cooking especially creating simple and delicious recipes that anyone can throw together in no time. When I realized that I did not want to continue to work late nights and I didn’t see myself running a restaurant for the rest of my life. At that time, I knew that I needed to be trained in a career that would provide me with longevity, continued learning, and I enjoy working directly with people. Working in a kitchen is limited to those working in the kitchen, less exposure to the people I was actually creating food for. I also wanted to use my cooking skills to teach people how to cook simple meals and I didn’t think I could do this fifteen years ago without more education. Although, now there are more opportunities for chefs outside the hospitality industry. Lastly, I have a hereditary degenerative eye condition which motivated me to go back to school at the age of 27 and start my 7 year path to complete the undergraduate degree in dietetics, 4 years at City College of San Francisco and 3 years at San Francisco State University. Then I completed the dietetic internship at San Francisco State University and passed the RD exam. Since I had been pushing the ball of education and it still had momentum and knowing that down the road a Master’s degree would be required for dietitians, I prevailed for another 2 years in the Master’s program at SFSU where I facilitated 4 focus groups asking women about their perception of social support for weight loss.
Your Job Title?
Outpatient Registered Dietitian and Group Facilitator for a rapid weight loss program
Company you are with now?
Pacific Heights Medical Group and MD Weight Management (one office, two businesses)
Other Social Media links you would like to include:
Not yet working on my own business so maybe a f/u would be good in 1.5 years or so.
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
On the day to day, I meet with patients individually for nutrition counseling referred by the primary care doctors and nurse practitioners at Pacific Heights Medical Group and I meet with patients individually who are enrolled in the very low calorie rapid weight loss program. I prepare and facilitate evening and day time classes that focus on the weight loss program and we have weigh maintenance groups to support patients after losing weight. Maintaining contact with a large portfolio of patients by email, phone, or text.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
My current job was posted on Craigslist and a colleague emailed me the post.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born with skills for observation, patience, understanding, open-mindedness, and I am detail oriented. Over my 10 year journey of education I’ve had to spend more time learning math and science than some and I’ve have to accept what I can and can’t do. Most days I am positive but every now and again I get down on some of my limitations being low vision. What is hard for others is that I look like I am fully sighted and people get confused or don’t remember I have my limitations.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
I would recommend interviewing dietitians in the field that you are interested in working and being open to different opportunities. I remember sitting in one of my undergraduate classes when the instructor explained the state of obesity in the United States. I felt this intense overwhelming feeling that I didn’t think I could handle working with patients who struggled with excess weight because of all of the challenges they face. Interestingly, what I do every day at work is just that providing support to folks facing these challenges. I wouldn’t change anything about my path and I absolutely love my work as a dietitian.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
If money was not the currency we used to pay for bills and rent I would want to get paid in traded goods and services from everyone who created and sources the foods and services I need to live a great life.