The Top 2 Challenges Second Career Dietitians Face Back in School (And How to Overcome Them)

Ame Proietti

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July 27, 2020
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You’ve  decided to change your career and become an RD. You’re excited about this change, but you’re not thrilled about the thought of being a student again. You know that the transition period is likely to be a bit..rocky.

What are some of the challenges you are going to face as a student again and what can you do to make your life easier?

Challenge 1: Lack of Time

Your job already takes up most of your time. Now add in a ton of hours spent on attending classes, studying and getting your volunteer hours in. What are you left with? A serious shortage of time. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to “add” more time in the day, and sleeping less is not the answer. Trust me, I promise. Plus, pulling all nighters now has the effect of a bad hangover the next day, and nobody has time for that anymore. 

Literally, you don’t have time for that. 

So what is the answer to all of your time problems? Time management. Nothing will force you to become a great time manager like trying to balance a full-time job, a new degree, and the rest of your life’s responsibilities all while getting enough sleep.

Time management and organization go hand in hand, so if you get organized, your time should be easier to manage. It’s also important to recognize your limits and know what you can do reasonably with the time you have.

Saying “no” to additional opportunities, requests from friends and family or even more work at your job can be tough.  But when you don’t say no to someone or something that’s asking for your time, you’re basically saying no to yourself. 

So, if you can say “no” to yourself, you can say “no” to someone else. 

Tips for Staying On Top of Your Time Management:

  • Use resources like your calendar app or a Google doc file to keep track of tasks. 
  • Spend time at the end of your week to plan for the upcoming week. You only need like 15 minutes or so. 
  • Take some more time to review your past week. See what is or isn’t working for you. Spend about 10 minutes doing this. 10 minutes a week can translate into hours saved over time. 

Challenge 2: Feeling Like You’re Not “Great” Anymore

You’re like the Jay-Z of students: 99 problems and time is the main one. And another one might be that you don’t feel like you’re doing your best. A common feeling we all can relate to, but, honestly, it is unreasonable to expect yourself to give 100% all of the time.

Sure, we chose this life, but we have limits.

On top of that, going back to school  adds the pressure of getting good grades back into our lives. In a working environment, we are usually “tested” to perform in tasks we already know how to do. Or at least we have a foundation to work off of.

But you’ve switched gears and now you’re in school. So, you’re taking in new information ALL of the time AND constantly being tested on it. That requires a huge time commitment; hence why people say being a student is a full-time job.

There will inevitably come a time where you “rush” through some chapters and this can result in doing “not so well” on your exams or assignments. 

This can be a hit to our self-esteem because deep down, we know we can do great work. Our school work might not reflect that though.

People tend to be their biggest critic, especially when they do perform well in their job or in other aspects of their lives. 

Failure isn’t easy; no one will debate that. If it’s any consolation though, people learn more from failure than they do from success. That won’t give you a 4.0 GPA, but grades don’t define your value as a person. 

You aren’t some “C chemistry student”. You are a person, with a career, a life, happy and supportive relationships around you (I hope). You’ve got a personality, skills, hobbies, thoughts and opinions. 

Your “C” doesn’t mean anything except you met the standard to pass a class. Think back on your experience in your career. How much of your “school knowledge” do you actually remember?

Probably not a lot.

People learn from doing and applying concepts and you will do that a lot in your new job as a registered dietitian whether you got a C or an A. 

How to Manage Expectations

  • Be realistic with your priorities
  • Know your limits
  • Find ways to make adjustments to your schedule so you have more time to focus on schoolwork. 
  • Reframe your idea of “success” and “productivity”. 

Conclusion

Being a second career dietitian comes with its challenges. Time management, and handling expectations requires flexibility, a little creativity, and patience. Plus a lot of support. Spend some time testing out different methods and approaches until you find what works best for you. This won’t be a “one-and-done” event; it is a process.

You can connect with Ame through her website or Instagram page.

Edited by Arielle Jacobowitz

Ame Proietti

Ame Proietti

Ame is a first year student with the University of Arizona. Online all the way! She is transitioning from ESL education to dietetics and is also a freelance explainer video maker and script writer. As a fellow career-changing rd2be, she has an interest in creating and cultivating resources that make going back to school easier than it was the first time. Check out her website or connect with her on Instagram for free resources and information made specifically with non-traditional dietetic majors in mind.