Dietetic Career Spotlight: Shelley Rael, MS, RD, LD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on NOVEMBER 9, 2011
Talk about a busy bee. Meet a Health Education Consultant for over 7,000 people, Shelley Rael, MS, RD, LD. NutritionJobs caught up with Shelley to learn how she balances her work load.
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
My mother was always very nutrition conscious – a “health nut” back in the day. I remember sitting through a nutrition education class when I was pregnant and amazed that someone was actually paid to teach what I thought was common knowledge. I thought I could do this and decided to become a dietitian. I was naïve. This was hard stuff, but I still love it.
What’s your Job Title and what company are you with now?
Health Education Consultant – Registered Dietitian with the University of New Mexico Employee Health Promotion Program
What is a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
Typical day starts at 5 am with a run (helps with stress management), breakfast at 6:15 and on my way to work by 7:30. I take the bus, so I can usually listen to a podcast to catch the news. At work by 8 am where my day can consist of clients, department presentations, department meetings to strategize wellness goals for employees, a weekly weight management class, too many emails, writing articles for our newsletter, promoting our lifestyle programs (we have three per year such as a walking program) and going out to measure employees. There is a lot more to it, too. I write all of my own presentations and do a lot of outreach on campus. After being there for 12 years, I know lot of people on campus and it has helped to become the go-to expert on campus. I am listed in the expert guide for the university, so when the media needs someone, I am usually who they contact. Some days I don’t do lunch because many people want a noon-time presentation or appointment. Other days I am able fit in a noon-time fitness class, usually indoor cycling. I am lucky enough that my office is located in the same building as the gym and swimming pool. So, most days I have several snacks throughout the day, but they are planned. Most days I leave work between 5 and 6 pm. The university has over 7,000 benefits eligible employees and we are self-insured. Our wellness program consists of 6 full-time staff. We have our work cut out for us.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
It was one of my internship locations. I kept in touch with my preceptor throughout my internship and as I finished my internship, I found out that my preceptor was leaving and the position would be available. I finished my internship on Friday and started on Monday as a RD eligible employee.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Apparently I am naturally organized, though sometimes I don’t feel like it and I am very detail oriented – I got these skills from my mother. Skills I have learned (and still work on): I have learned to take a step back and realize that I may be speaking above people’s heads. By this I mean that I have realized more that I am so used to talking about nutrition and “carbs,” “protein,” and “calcium rich foods” that I assume people know what I mean when I say that. I have learned, and still practice, to get the balance to speaking TO people rather than AT people.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
You must do what you love. If you aren’t enjoying what you do, you must change your environment. I tell people all the time that I love my profession, I love my career, I love what I do, and I love the people I work with. I will probably not retire from being a dietitian, just from my job.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Gift cards or credits to really good restaurants. I am a foodie and can easily spend $150 – $200 at a good restaurant (between my husband and I). That is why we tend to only do that splurge for our birthdays and anniversary. When we go on vacation we go for restaurants – never mind the sights.