Dietetic Career Spotlight on Jessica Gust, Element Nutrition Consulting, Dignity Health
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on OCTOBER 13, 2016
Meet Jessica Gust, RDN, business owner and consultant who balances both her jobs in a gung-ho way. Even though Jessica wears many hats, she still makes time to volunteer for the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
During my freshman year of college at Michigan State University I fell into the unhealthy lifestyle trap of eating dorm food, late night pizza and aside from walking to class, a serious lack of exercise. Over winter break I realized something needed to change. I asked for a nutrition book in my stocking for Christmas and quickly became intrigued by the idea that making simple lifestyle changes could significantly improve the way I looked and felt. Within a month of healthy eating habits and exercise I saw a huge improvement. When I went back to the dorms my friends on my floor were so impressed by the changes I had made that they started asking questions. This sparked my desire to learn more so I could answer their questions. I decided to stop into the advisor’s office of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department, she was a dietitian and forever changed my life. There was so much support and guidance that I quickly fell in love with the nutrition profession and everything it stood for. From that day forward I had a clear path for my future and it has led me to where I am today.
Your Job Title?
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist/Consultant/Business Owner
Company you are with now?
I work part time for Dignity Health in their Homecare setting. I split my time between the infusion department, home Health and hospice. I love the variety and being able to help people in their own environment.
I also have a private consulting practice where I consult for multiple food and healthcare organizations with a primary focus on pediatric nutrition.
– Instagram: Element_Nutrition
– Facebook: Facebook.com/ElementNutritionConsulting
– Twitter: @ElementNutrCo
– Pinterest: ElementNutrCo
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I have a very non typical work week that is primarily dictated by the referrals I receive that week. I usually spend about 4-6 hours per day providing support to my homecare patients where I travel all over the county. I provide in home education to clients and families on healthy lifestyle, nutrition support, end of life nutrition and disease management. I also attend weekly team meetings with our interdisciplinary team.
With my private practice I am contracted on a monthly basis for several companies so I usually spend the rest of my weekly hours providing these services, it fluctuates from week to week. I consult for multiple group homes for adults with developmental disabilities where I provide nutrition assessment to each client as well as staff training, in services and education. I also write monthly nutrition newsletters for one of my clients where the target audiences are head start centers and the families of children who attend head start programs. These newsletters feature healthy recipes ideas and focus on nutrition topics about healthy eating habits for young children. Additionally, I spend about 4-5 hours weekly at a pediatric clinic where I provide nutrition counseling to children and their families based on referral from their pediatrician.
My days also include my volunteer work. I am involved in my state affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (The California Academy) and currently serve on the Communications Council as the Social Media Coordinator. Here I manage the Instagram page as well as post on the Facebook and Twitter pages (Follow us: @RDNutritionCA). I am involved at the district level as well and am currently the past president of the Coastal Tri Counties District after a three year term as president. These volunteer opportunities have been valuable in networking with other RDNs and have opened doors for me with my private practice as well.
Lastly, I am in my final semester of my Master’s program with an anticipated graduation date of December 2016! All my extra weekly time is dedicated to studying and researching.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
All of the work that I do both through my part time job and my private practice was by the recommendation of other RDNs that I have worked with either as an intern, through our local nutrition association or from word of mouth. Building connections with other RDNs has really shaped my career!
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born a go getter and entrepreneurial skills were always in my life. I started my first business when I was about 12-13 years old where I was known as the neighborhood babysitter. Pretty much all my weekends and summers were spent watching the neighbor kids and saving my money. My dad always taught me the value of hard work and my mom has exceptional organizational skills.
I was not born with a desire to be in the spotlight. I have never liked to be the focus of attention or a public speaker. This is something I have had to learn and I am continually working on it.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Network, network, network! Be open to opportunity even if it doesn’t sound glamorous. Volunteer, be professional and supportive of your professors, internship directors, co-workers and preceptors and learn everything you can from them. You never know when an opportunity will come and you want to be the first person that comes to their mind!
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Travel! I love to go anywhere and experience new places and things. What better way to learn than in a new environment.