Kari Ikemoto is the California Dietetic Association (CDA) Social Media Chair. Many thanks to Kari for agreeing to do a Q&A session with me to benefit the readers who want to pursue a career in dietetics. Learning through the experience of others is very valuable. There are many RDs who are in the same career path you want to travel. These RDs have experienced and solved many of the same problems you may be facing. Using others experience to help benefit your future can accelerate your success as an RD. To learn more about Kari visit her site at: http://karionnutrition.com/
1. In a nutshell, describe how you got where you are today.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my parents. My mom is a nurse and I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare. She always inspired and pushed me to achieve and do well. I also owe a big shout out to Vicky Flaig and Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake (CRM). I spent 2 summers at CRM as a food service intern and it was one of the best experiences of my life! I truly believe that if it wasn’t for camp I would not be where I am today! (Visit campronald.org for more information on Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake. Each summer they offer 5 food service intern positions for dietetic students!)
2. How did you decide to pursue the career you are working in today?
Networking! A family friend worked at the company I am employed by and she sent my resume around. The rest is history. I started as a health educator and took the DTR exam. I applied for DI’s and when I moved across the country, I was able to stay and work remotely on special projects! Once I finished my internship and passed my test I was fortunately offered my job back! I literally have the best boss in the world who had always been so supportive of my ideas and goals. I enjoy being an outpatient dietitian and having flexibility in my job!
3. What has been one of your biggest challenges as a Registered Dietitian and how did you overcome it?
My first clinical job was very challenging. I went from a top tier, cutting edge hospital during my internship to a hospital that was still using paper charts and outdated recommendations. As the weekend RD and as a newly credentialed RD, it was overwhelming. Fortunately, I had good friends and co workers who helped out and I will always look to that as a growing experience. I was able to use my time there to learn about the hospital system and also tried to maintain a positive attitude. Positivity helped me to overcome the challenge of it and knowing that I did the best I could do with what I was given.
4. What are your success habits?
Networking! I’ve worked very hard to create good relationships with others that I meet in the field. Since dietetics is such a small network of professionals you never know who you may cross paths with again.
5. What advice would you give an undergrad dietetic student or dietetic intern?
Keep a positive image of the future! I truly believe in the power of positivity and resilience. If you are able to get through the most difficult of times (nutrition biochem, DICAS) by envisioning the brighter days ahead, it makes it all easier. I did not fit the cookie cutter mold ( see my post on Stone Soup-http://www.foodandnutrition.org/Stone-Soup/February-2015/Low-GPA-Dietetic-Internship/) but by maintaining a positive attitude and outlook I believe this helped me to get through the worst of times. In the end all that you are doing in class and at your DI will come together and make sense. There are still days when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing- but that’s okay because I know that it will all work out!
6. What do you do to ensure you are continuously growing as a dietitian?
I try to always be learning and learning from others. I never take myself too seriously and try to use that as a way to grow and realize my weaknesses. I know people usually hate the interview question about your weaknesses but I think it’s a good judgement of goals. If you can admit weaknesses you’re better set to achieve your goals.
7. What do you like to do on your free time?
I played volleyball and soccer growing up, so I stay active playing co-ed soccer and beach volleyball. I’m planning to run another marathon by the end of 2015 so I try to run and take classes with my friends! Other than that my boyfriend and I are always planning the coffee shop we want to open one day!!
8. What is the biggest risk you have taken in your life?
Moving to New Hampshire for my dietetic internship. I’ve basically lived in California for my whole life and moving completely across the country was frightening. However, I definitely wouldn’t trade the experience! It helped me to become an RD and I gained many valuable nutrition experiences!
9. What one thing to you still struggle with as an RD?
Student loans! Ha! But I definitely think that the cost to become and RD is definitely more than what we are compensated. I will vehemently fight for fair and equal compensation for RDs until the day I die! We need all RDs and students to advocate for their worth! We have gone through so much schooling and are super knowledgeable (I might be biased!) and deserve a lot more than what we are offered!
I don’t know about you all, but I think these are some GREAT answers provided by Kari. Once again thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these! And to all of the current dietetic students and interns, I hope this was motivating and inspiring!