Registered Dietitian Career Spotlight: Marci Harnischfeger MS RD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MARCH 19, 2013
From grocery tours to social media to research, Marci Harnischfeger wears many hats as an entrepreneur and continues to enjoy her passion of teaching nutrition topics from science to culinary arts. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I love to teach. When considering the best subjects to teach: science, math, and culinary arts were top on my list. Dietetics allows me to be a food and nutrition expert. I get to connect with people and teach them how to eat to reach their health, wellness, and quality of life goals. What could be better than that?
Your Job Title?
Registered Dietitian, Chef, Nutrition and Health Technology Educator
Company you are with now?
Currently, I am working on developing a few personal projects that I have had in the pipeline for years.
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I love the diverse amount of projects I work on. My varied background in nutrition, education, culinary arts, linguistics, and technology gives me the opportunity to explore a variety of topics daily. In the past year, my days have included recipe testing in the kitchen; giving grocery tours to people interested in knowing about how to eat for their condition; creating blog posts, infographics, and other social media materials; researching new topics in nutrition and health; creating fun and innovative ways to engage consumers to enjoy food while being mindful of their health; evaluating nutrition data for hundreds of thousands of grocery products; and connecting with others through speaking engagements on the importance of technology in dietetics at events across the country.
How did you get to your current area of expertise in dietetics?
From a young age, I knew I wanted to help people overcome challenges in their personal lives. This lead me to pursue a variety of degrees and work experiences such as completing a Masters degree in clinical nutrition at New York University, training in culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America, teaching college level nutrition and technology classes, and developing nutrition education content for web and mobile. At each stage, I saw a need to explore a new area of expertise to enhance my ability to help people make simple changes in their diet. Now, for each new project I tackle, I draw from all of my experiences to provide the most practical nutrition solutions possible.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I have always had innate abilities for teaching, problem solving, and helping out the underdog. I’ve since learned patience, timing, and the need to stop and smell the roses once in a while.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Research everything! There is not a subject that I come across that I don’t feel the need to dig deeper. Pull the primary research, interview the experts, ask open ended questions and-most importantly-listen to the answers. In our field (as in all scientific disciplines), new, interesting, and often contradictory reports come out each day. Tracking down the who, what, why, where, when, and how is the key to being able to use the information in a practical and helpful way. Then make sure to explain it to your neighbor, your friend, your colleague, or your dietetic interns, so you have a clear and relevant take on the topic.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
I believe that RDs should be paid fairly for the valuable expertise and benefits we provide. Added perks would be: Tea, Time, Travel. In any order.