Dietetic Career Spotlight on Pamela Riggs, Center for Integrative Health & Wellness
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on APRIL 22, 2019
Meet Pamela Riggs, MS, RDN, CSOWM, specializing in outpatient nutrition. It’s great to be able to inspire people to make sustainable, lifestyle changes. Pamela shares how she got into this niche and how she continues to grow and evolve with it. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I started my college experience as a Child Development major and had to take a basic nutrition class as a requirement. I was so fascinated with how nutrients functioned in the body and got my very first “college A”! This sparked my interest in nutrition and led to the discovery that Dietetics was something I could actually pursue as a career. I changed my academic direction and have had an amazing and fulfilling experience as an RDN ever since.
Your Job Title?
My current job title is Outpatient Nutrition Coordinator.
Company you are with now?
Marin General Hospital. I work at our Center for Integrative Health & Wellness, coordinating and facilitating outpatient nutrition programs and services.
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
A typical day for me begins with a review of my outpatient appointment schedule and preparing to see clients. I’ll obtain and review medical records and gather any educational materials I think I may need or review my notes from a previous session if it’s a follow up visit. I provide a variety of outpatient nutrition related services including MNT for a disease management, health coaching for employees as part of our Wellness@Work program, complimentary nutrition counseling for patients undergoing cancer treatment at Marin Cancer Care, as well as helping my clients individually and in a small group format, achieve and maintain a healthy weight while participating in our Healthy Weight for Wellness and Healthy Weight for LIFE programs (our weight management programs). My day also consists of administrative tasks like processing MNT referrals, scheduling patients, and supporting the needs of our 2 per diem RDNs and other department staff. Some days I’m busy supporting our Wellness@Work program by helping with biometric screenings, writing articles for newsletters, leading Lunch and Learns, and facilitating an employee Weight Loss Challenge!
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Prior to this job I was self employee (www.nutritionwellnessrd.com)and doing contract work. After a year of this I missed working for a larger organization and started looking for positions on NutritionJobs.com, Indeed, and other online job postings. I saw this position advertised and did a little research about Marin General Hospital, the Center for Integrative Health & Wellness, and who the hiring manager for the position was. As it turned out, a friend of mine and a coworker of my husband at the time, were related to the hiring manager! I, of course, reached out to my friend and my husband reached out to his coworker, and we asked both of them to put a good word in for me. Although I’d like to say I was offered the position for my interviewing skills, work experience, and expertise, I think its always helpful to have a personal connection if you can.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I believe I was born with the skills of compassion for others, being organized, and having a lot of self-discipline. The most important skills I’ve learned along the way are definitely related to motivational interviewing. With the help of some advanced training, I have learned how to engage and connect with my clients, to assess readiness for change, to ask open ended questions to evoke change, and to help my clients build their confidence in behavior change. by setting SMART goals.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Do what you’re passionate about. Lead with your strengths but be open to challenging your weaknesses. There are so many opportunities for RDN’s these days and you never know exactly where the path you’re on will lead. I remember early in my career, how challenging I found it to help people lose weight and thought I’d never want to have that be the focus of my daily work, and here I am now, a Board Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management (a credential I just received a year ago). I’m still find it challenging to help my clients with weight loss, but I now also find it fascinating, complex, and very rewarding, especially when I see my clients making sustainable lifestyle changes!
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Appreciation. Getting positive feedback and thank you’s for making a difference in peoples lives is worth more than money!