Dietetic Career Spotlight: Therese Shumaker, MS, RD, LD at Mayo Clinic
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on DECEMBER 6, 2011
From eating disorders to dialysis, Therese Shumaker, MS, RD, LD, educates and counsels a variety of people.
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I got attracted to dietetics right after high school. I took a nutrition class at our community college. I had always been interested in fitness, but that class really got me hooked on how nutrition plays such a vital role in getting and staying fit.
Your Job Title?
MS, RD, Clinical Dietitian. I have a Masters degree in exercise science, and am working toward a second Masters degree in counseling
Company you are with now?
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota- I have worked here 12 years.
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I am lucky enough to work in two specialty areas of dietetics. I devote some of my days to working with patients that have eating disorders. I see patients in the outpatient clinic. I do this two days a week. I also teach nutrition classes to our patients that are in an inpatient and outpatient alcohol/drug rehabilitation unit. Three days a week I work in our dialysis unit, and educate patients and their families about the nutritional needs of dialysis patients. I love being able to work in two specialty areas, as the variety keeps me from being stagnant, and there is always something for me to do and learn. I am never bored.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I have wanted to work with patients that struggle with eating disorders and addictions for a number of years. As having been in a position of needing help myself ( I am a a recovering alcoholic), this is truly my niche and my passion.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I think that I have always been outgoing. I remember as a kid standing on the street curb waving to people as they drove by. My nickname as a kid was “hi and by” as that is what the neighbors and my parents used to call me, because of my strong need to wave to everyone as they drove by. I was born to be a risk taker, and for awhile I did not like this in myself, but now see that it has benefitted me in many ways. I have learned most things about myself along the way, and I do believe that I really can do anything that I want to do, if I work hard enough for it. I have overcome my addiction to alcohol and have done some pretty amazing things since then.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
My advice is to find something your passionate about, and pursue your passion. It took me awhile to find this, as I am 43 years old, and feel like a baby in the area of eating disorders, but this is what I want to do when I grow up. I think it has been important for me to get involved with a professional organization as well. It has given me the ability to network with people and make new connections. It has also given me opportunities for leadership roles that I would never been able to have if not involved in the association. I was also involved with my local and state dietetic association.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Great question, I would have to say “running shoes”. I was a runner on and off in my 20s and 30s, and have been running now pretty competitively for about 5 years. It helps with my stress level, and I am doing things I never dreamed possible, like qualifying for the Boston marathon with plans to run it in 2012!