Dietetic Career Spotlight on Nancy Woodbury, Health Coach, Cigna
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on NOVEMBER 30, 2015
I met Nancy Woodbury MA, MS, RD, online through Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group and we started a Mastermind group together. Nancy is a lifelong learner and always willing to grow, expand, and build. She’s an innovator in the dietetic industry and is constantly enhancing her career. Read on to learn about her latest projects. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I have always practiced a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and quality nutrition. As a lifelong advocate of a whole food, mostly plant-based diet, I enjoy shopping for nutritious foods, preparing healthy meals, and trying new restaurants that serve innovative, seasonal and organic cuisine. Early in my career, I worked in the field of public relations, and I noticed that registered dietitians were frequently quoted as nutrition experts in the news media. Source credibility increases with expertise and trustworthiness, so I returned to school to become a health care professional to use my communications skills in health promotion.
Prior to becoming a registered dietitian, I worked in the insurance industry as a registered nurse and health coach for participants in wellness programs for diabetes, heart disease, nutrition and weight management and achieved positive health outcomes. This confirmed my belief that nutrition and physical activity are key components of preventing chronic diseases and further inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition. I also attended sports nutrition sessions at an ACSM conference, as well as Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition workshop, where I learned more about nutrition and exercise and had an opportunity to network with dietitians.
Your Job Title:
Company you are with now:
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you:
I work at the corporate headquarters of a large company, where I provide one-on-one health coaching sessions to employees for weight management, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress management and tobacco cessation.
I present monthly health education seminars on topics such as goal setting, fad diets, heart health, diabetes, sleep, stress management and holiday survival. To celebrate National Nutrition Month, I taught a class on healthy meal planning and invited a chef to perform a cooking demonstration. I also taught two successful 12-week weight management courses this year.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Health coaching is a skill employed by many health professionals, including registered dietitians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, exercise physiologists and certified health educators. I was previously trained in Motivational Interviewing and the application of health behavior change theories to help people change for good. Earning a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition enhanced my ability to counsel people about nutrition to prevent and manage chronic diseases.
During graduate school, I worked for Cigna as a health promotion speaker, presenting health education seminars to corporations. After I became an RD, I worked as a clinical dietitian and presented seminars on behalf of Cigna on my days off until my current position was available.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I possess an innate love of learning, a good memory, an analytical mind, and the desire to excel. Although I had performed on stage as a musician in college, public speaking is different, so I took a public speaking course and continue to practice to improve my presentation skills.
I am a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and several dietetic practice groups, including Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition. I earned the designation of Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine, and I am certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Health Coach and as a Personal Trainer.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Know thyself and align your work with your values. Identify your career goals and then choose the best academic program and work experiences to help you achieve them. As Zig Ziglar said, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Extended time off to travel to exciting nutrition conferences and summer music festivals.