I am lucky enough to be working under Melanie McGrice at her dietetic clinic in Melbourne, so thought I would share a little insight into a day in her very busy life. Melanie is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and company director of Nutrition Plus. She is an experienced media spokesperson, regularly interviewed for lifestyle and current affair programs and author of ‘The Pregnancy Weight Plan.’
Melanie is one of few dietitians in Australia to achieve Advanced APD status and her active work schedule reflects the love that she has for her dietetics career. From international aid work, to clinical and private practice and regularly appearing on the media, no one day is ever the same. I’ve asked Melanie to share with us some insight into her career so far and provide some valuable advice to help aspiring dietetic and nutrition students. A unique glimpse into what the future may hold!
What does your job involve?
Although I ‘have my finger in a few different pies’, I spend most of my time running my private practice. What does an average day look like? My days contain a lot of variety – which is one of the things that I love most about dietetics – but a typical day would usually look like:
6.00am: Wake, check my phone for new emails, use the quiet time to think about any key issues that I need to deal with that day.
6.30am: Prepare for the day (shower, brekkie etc) then ride my pushbike into work.
7.30am: Update my social media.
8.00am: I love to use this hour before everyone else arrives in the office to get some key project work done. I think most clearly so I use this time to work on projects. Examples might include writing corporate proposals, writing presentations, writing articles or writing briefs for my staff.
10.00am: I usually get at least one media request each day, so I usually organise these mid morning.
11.00am: Mornings are often also busy with meetings – whether with my staff or with companies that I am doing consultancy work for.
2.00 – 7.00pm: I reserve this time for seeing clients. As our target market are more inner city, well educated people they prefer to come after work.
7.00pm: Finish up any meal plans and correspondence.
7.30pm: Head home and prepare dinner/catch up with a friend/go for a walk.
What has been your greatest challenge working as a dietitian?
Starting my own business. Although I was a very experienced dietitian when I opened my business, I had little business experience – and it can be really tough. I’d really encourage those who want to start their own business to get as much business experience as possible before starting….maybe even consider doing an MBA. You can’t open a business half-heartedly. More businesses fail in the first few years, than survive, so you really need to be prepared.
What is your favourite food message?
Everything is ok in moderation.
What message do you want to give students about your job?
Being a student gives you the time, flexibility and opportunity to get as much work experience as possible. (It’s hard for someone who’s been in the workforce for over 10 years (or even once you graduate) to get work experience!). The more experience that you get now, the better your career will be. So even if you don’t need to work – do so! Try different things to help you work out what you enjoy and what your strengths are. Make new contacts. Jobs that I had as a student have such a massive impact on the dietitian that I am today. I studied for 8 years so was able to try lots of different opportunities. For example I worked at a PR company while studying in Sydney (doing undergrad nutrition), worked in event management company, worked in sales, in hospitality, in the media, in reception…all of these positions have taught me key skills which I use in my business today.
What is your food of the moment/current food trend?
I’m really enjoying fresh pears at the moment.
What advice do you have for people currently completing their degree and wanting to pursue a career like you?
Deep down I think I always knew that I wanted to open my own business, but it was really beneficial to work for a few other dietitians first so that I could analyse how they did things, what I liked and what I didn’t, so that you can learn through someone else’s experiences before your own.
What advice do you have for potential students looking to study nutrition and dietetics?
It’s really important to understand the science, so if you’re not strong at science, try studying in groups so that you can all learn together and help each other.
For further information, you can join Melanie’s Nutrition and Wellbeing Network, which provides access to regular articles, discounted seminars and practical nutrition information.