Dietetic Career Spotlight on Christy Wilson, RD, Freelance
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on AUGUST 3, 2014
I originally had the pleasure of meeting Christy Wilson virtually through social media and she is rocking the scene! Christy is full of flavor, inspiration, and joy. Her positive and upbeat attitude shines through her posts, tweets, and photos. Not only is she doing employee wellness and nutrition consultation, she also demonstrates how the power of social media can enhance one’s career by making new connections and new job opportunities. Read on to learn more. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I took my first basic nutrition course in college as a sophomore and the subject truly fascinated me. All I wanted to do was learn more and share what I learned with everyone! After that class, I looked into the field and even though I didn’t know exactly what direction I wanted to go in, I pursued it!
Your Job Title:
I have so many…where shall I start?
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Nutrition consultant, health educator, health writer, nutrition counselor, speaker, cooking class teacher, blogger, entrepreneur.
Company you are with now?
Twice a week I work at the University of Arizona with Life & Work Connections doing employee wellness. I do nutrition consulting work as an independent contractor for El Rio Community Health Center. I am a nutrition counselor and cooking class teacher at El Rio Health Center’s Special Immunology Associate Clinic, which is their HIV specialty clinic. I’m also the dietitian for El Rio’s system-wide employee wellness program. I also do freelance writing work and have my own blog.
Other Social Media links you would like to include:
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christywilsonnutrition
– Instagram: http://instagram.com/christywil74
– LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/christy-wilson-rd/4a/990/30b
– Vine: https://vine.co/u/913595404451463168
– Google +: https://plus.google.com/107874313369425874462/posts
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you:
Wake up about 5am, check social media accounts, respond to emails and aim to get in some writing for articles or my blog–that I’m constantly working on. I try to get to an early morning spin class or ride my bike before getting my kids ready for school. Twice a week I head to the University and work full days there or at the clinic where I do consulting work. If I have a scheduled slide presentation or demonstration at one of the El Rio clinics in town, I’ll head there for a lunch hour presentation. If I happen to have an “open” day, I’ll either be working on an article or a blog post, taking food photos (which I love doing!) or simultaneously cooking and taking photos and then share some over social media. At times I like to participate in nutrition-focused Twitter chats—a great way to network and get the word out about the importance of healthy eating, good nutrition and the important role RDs play in people achieving optimal health. Once 5pm comes around, it’s time for round two! Kids are home, it’s time to help them out with homework, get dinner on the table and wrap up the day. Sometimes I’ll stay up after everyone is asleep and get more work done—either a slide presentation for an upcoming employee wellness session, writing assignment for a magazine or blog post. It’s a ton of work, but I love it all!
How did you get your current job in dietetics?:
My job at the HIV clinic was a lucky word-of-mouth situation. I had worked with the HIV community for about five years prior to applying for that job, so my background with this patient population helped. I was also enthusiastic about teaching cooking classes there and the physicians were totally supportive of my idea! My job at the University came through the local dietetic association email group. My experience with social media, which I had been honing to promote my own business, helped me land this job; they were looking for an RD to help promote their services through social media.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?:
I don’t know if I was born with any of the skills I use today (!), but I remember people always telling me “you’re so creative!” As a kid, I loved to draw, I loved to take photos, I loved to pretend I was a school teacher, I loved to write and I loved being on stage. In a way, I have managed to craft my career so that I get to include all of these elements into my job. I create fun presentations where I get to virtually “draw” and create informative, animated and colorful slides. I take food photos and publish them on my website and share them with the world over social media. I teach people about nutrition; I talk with them in person, I write health-focused articles and sometimes I even get to speak to a group on stage! I use the knowledge I’ve gained in school and the knowledge I’ve since gained from my continuing education opportunities and I write about it, talk about it and present it in a way that is appealing to different audiences: patients, the community, academia and colleagues. I feel I learn most from my colleagues, especially those in the Academy’s dietetic practice groups (Food and Culinary Professionals and Nutrition Entrepreneurs). I’m still learning and continue working on improving the skills I have while learning new ones.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?:
Don’t ever give up. No matter what people may tell you, no matter how discouraging certain situations can be, no matter the obstacles, pursue your dreams. When I was a student, my first few interactions with RDs were not the most encouraging, yet I persevered. I had faith that I had chosen the right career because I was truly passionate about the work RDs were (and are) doing.
Sometimes I talk with students who aren’t sure about sticking with dietetics and I tell them this: The field of dietetics is so diverse that you can do what you love within this profession. Don’t feel locked into a narrow path because there is an entire field out there to explore! At first, clinical dietetics seemed like the only direction I could go in until I met RDs who were doing all sorts of amazing work and breaking barriers. They were specializing in culinary nutrition, working with chefs, at grocery stores, at spas, in schools, they were writing and speaking and doing cooking demos; it was this freedom within the profession that was so refreshing to discover. I knew I wanted to become a part of THAT movement…so I did. Do what you love. Keep learning. Keep exploring and keep moving forward.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?:
Gratitude from my clients and colleagues I work with and serve is truly the best reward. I love when someone comes up to me and tells me “Your advice really helped me,” ”I tried that recipe and now I make it all the time!” or “I tried what you advised and it worked! I feel great!” Knowing that I’ve helped someone is one of the best feelings in the world!