Dietetic Career Spotlight on Jennifer Stimson, Health Educator, Didactic Program Director, Private Practice
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MARCH 26, 2018
Meet Jennifer Stimson, MS, RD, who found her jobs by creating them and being at the right place at the right time. She is the Director for the Didactic Program in Dietetics at San Francisco State University, a Private Practice Owner, and a Health Educator at Kaiser. Working in all three positions gives a nice variety to one’s life. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
Food. I love to eat and cook so as I was exploring different career options, my aunt suggested dietetics.
Your Job Titles and Companies?
– Director, Didactic Programs in Dietetics (DPD), San Francisco State University
– Owner, Jennifer Stimson Nutrition
– Health Educator, Kaiser Permanente
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Several days per week I am teaching or advising students at San Francisco State University. If I am seeing private clients I usually make home visits and I may work on client projects at home. I also teach at Kaiser Permanente Richmond, California once per week and take public transportation with the hope of getting some work done in transit.
I am in the very fortunate position to be able to work at home several days per week. I’m not a night-owl so you are more likely to find me working in my pajamas on the couch at 4 am than staying up till midnight to work on a deadline.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I created my business out of a desire to do something I love, to have a flexible schedule, and to be well-compensated. This past August I started as the DPD director at San Francisco State University. I was already teaching at San Francisco State University when the director position opened up – fortunately I was in the right place at the right time! Kaiser hired me due to my willingness to be flexible with where I’d teach.
I’ve obtained work through a variety of means: creating it, getting it through networking and also by creating profiles on various career databases such as with Kaiser Permanente. Using LinkedIn has also helped.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Most of my skills I’ve had to hone, but I think I was born with empathy and good listening skills. I’ve been fortunate to gain various experiences throughout my career: leadership from various roles while working at San Mateo County for more than a decade, mentoring, breastfeeding/lactation (also from working at WIC at San Mateo County) and most recently teaching at both San Francisco State University and Kaiser Permanente. I’m still in the “learning curve” stage with teaching and it’s a great challenge.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Try to take opportunities to stretch yourself – even if you are scared. Be open minded about jobs as they may not seem ideal on the surface but you may end up working fantastic people or love a job you never thought you would. Consistently upgrade and improve your skills. Stay current in the field of nutrition by reading everything nutrition-related you can get your hands on. If something is not working after you have tried and tried to make it work – cut your losses and move on. You will not be good at everything and that’s ok. Always remember the world of nutrition is very small so treat people kindly. Stay connected with former colleagues and help them with their career either with job leads or articles of interest.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
One thing that I absolutely love is “found” time. A free chunk of unexpected time is the best!