Dietetic Career Spotlight on Barbara Spalding, RDN
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MARCH 18, 2014
Meet Barbara Spalding, a second-career dietitian who has found her nitch training leadership teams and writing her nutrition blog. Another fine example of a dietitian finding success in the many alternative nutrition and health jobs out there. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
While cooking and food have always been a passion for me, they have not always been the focus of my career. When I first started working, I worked in international insurance. I was also an entrepreneur and started and grew a small health insurance agency as a broker and consultant for a number of years. About 8-10 years ago I was fortunate to be able to return to school to pursue my love of food and cooking, and discovered nutrition and dietetics along the way. I am passionate about my new field because unlike the health insurance business, which is focused on paying for medical treatment after an illness or disease has set in, working as an RDN allows me to help individuals prevent chronic and serious disease and better maintain their health in the first place.
Your Job Title:
My primary job is working as a part-time Trainer for NJ Taking Steps to Healthy Success. In addition, I have recently started blogging on food and nutrition topics as part of my own business, Barbara Spalding RDN LLC.
Company you are with now:
NJ Taking Steps to Healthy Success is a CDC funded Early Care and Education (ECE) project awarded to Delaware based Nemours. In New Jersey the ECELC program is being implemented (2013 – 2018) by the New Jersey Department of Health, as part of its nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention initiative called ShapingNJ. The goal of ShapingNJ is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for all New Jersey residents.
- My personal food and nutrition blog is: http://secondactkitchen.com
Your Social Media:
- LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/barbaraspalding/
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you:
My days are quite varied due to the nature of the NJ Taking Steps to Healthy Success project. Every 1-2 months I conduct a full-day training seminar along with a training partner who has a background in ECE. The training is for leadership teams of three teachers and directors of child care facilities and focuses on continuous quality improvement. Many days are spent reviewing the curriculum, looking for activities to bring to the training sessions, rehearsing and preparing our script, and conducting the actual training. Between sessions we provide personalized technical assistance (TA) to our assigned centers so they can turn key the training to their staff. TA involves coaching center staff by phone and meeting with them in person to provide resources and help them implement “best practices” including policies for nutrition, physical activity, screen time and breast feeding in their centers. It is critical that decision makers are part of the center leadership team.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Relationships – I was recommended for the position by my mentor, M. Geraldine McKay, M.Ed., RD. Gerri was my Dietetic Internship Director at UMDNJ, which is now the Rutgers SHRP, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Dietetic Internship Program.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I have an innate curiosity and interest in the world around me, enjoy multi-tasking, have an entrepreneurial spirit, high energy, resilience, empathy for others and passion for my work. Along the way I have learned public-speaking and writing skills, time management, computer and technology skills, and business and management skills, along with food and nutrition skills.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Listen to your heart and find your passion. It may take multiple attempts, some of which may not work out as well as you would like, and that’s o.k. It also helps to constantly learn and acquire new skills, stay in touch with people you meet throughout your journey and build relationships, and take care of yourself so that you will have the energy and ability to pursue your dreams, whatever they may be.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
More time to study and learn about new things and travel the world.