There is an overwhelming negativity surrounding the profession and notably, some dietitians out there are likely to be feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the job prospects! Plus, if you have just read Tyson Tripcony’s article about ‘why you should quit your dietetics degree’, then bet there is a sinking feeling in your gut right now. Let’s just say, it is not the most uplifting pieces to read between dietetic classes, and the truth is – the job prospects do look pretty sad and grey.
If you are feeling the pull to quit and join a trade then maybe it is time to ask a few questions and determine not only what you want to do, but who you want to be? Afterall, dietetics is no joke and it is most definitely not for the faint hearted. If graduation is near, ask yourself this – is traditional dietetics for me? Because looking at the hard and fast facts (aka the scary stuff), there really are no jobs going down the traditional route of dietetics. The figures show that there are less than 5000 job openings in dietetics for the next three years (until 2019). In comparison, carpenters are in high demand with over 50,000 jobs predicted to be on offer. To all those contemplating quitting, maybe carpentry would suit. After all, we are creative, practical and good listeners – three skills that would suit any tradeswo/men.
So the job market does not look great but as dietitians we are taught to look at the evidence, look at the statistics and place it all in context. The first question to ask is – does this apply to me?
Instead of pessimism, sit up straight, do the superman pose and design an individualised plan to get you to where you want to be. A great place start is with some SMART goals and objectives to suit your dream.
What are you good at? What is your unique selling point? What are your strengths? Who do you want to be?
Finding what you are good at can be difficult (as most consider their weaknesses first), so to do this well – ask a friend or someone who knows you well. These strengths do not have to be specific to the dietetic profession, they need to be unique, or rather aligned.
As Tara Diversi (Business Entrepreneur, English Channel swimmer, and APD) describes: an unique selling point should actually be an aligned selling point. Being different to others is not the only factor to consider. The second is ensuring that whatever you choose to pursue as a career, is 100% aligned with your passions. Focus on the three E’s – consider what you find Easy, what you are Excellent at, and what you Enjoy. Making sure these three questions are answered, pursued and align with you, is the key to success (in any profession).
Instead of being caught up by the hard facts, the profession and next generation of dietitians need to work together to be courageous and challenge the status quo, the statistics, and the job outlook. After all, food is at the very core of everything and everyone, so how can there be ‘no jobs’?
Recently the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare published data highlighting that although Australians consider themselves to be healthy (85 out of 100), 11 million Australias have at least one chronic disease and 65% are overweight or obese. Plus, approximately 31% of this burden of disease could have been prevented between 2011-2013 because four out of five modifiable risk factors are diet related. These include high body mass, high alcohol intake, high blood pressure and physical inactivity (smoking was number one). To set the scene further, coronary heart disease is ranked number one (regardless of gender) followed by lung cancer, suicide, colorectal cancer and COPD (view the top 10 leading causes of premature death here).
Now, if the opportunity for dietetics to play a massive and leading role in changing this still cannot be identified, then maybe it is time to start thinking outside of the box.
This is what ‘no jobs’ actually means (note the keyword ‘opportunity’ below):
- It is an opportunity to advocate for the profession.
- It is an opportunity to create your own reality.
- It is an opportunity to think outside the box.
- It is an opportunity to brand yourself.
- It is is an opportunity to take risks.
- It is an opportunity to innovate.
For those individuals out there that enjoy stepping outside of the box, thrive off flexibility, variety and embrace challenge – then this career is for you and here is where the jobs will most likely be.
Our profession is based on the evidence so getting into the nitty and gritty of dietetics will do the profession and society a whole lot of good. Really, all dietitians should be doing some sort of research, just take a deep breath and find a passion worth pursuing. There are plenty of unanswered questions out there, so now is better than ever to start answering them.Howard, A. J., Ferguson, M., Wilkinson, P. and Campbell, K. L. (2013) Involvement in research activities and factors influencing research capacity among dietitians. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 26 SUPPL.1: 180–187. doi:10.1111/jhn.12053
With the media.
Every day, there are more and more stories about food and nutrition highlighted by other health professionals and less qualified persons than ourselves. Join the conversation and start advocating for real solid science in front of the biggest crowd possible, society. The Dietitians Association of Australia run a two-day Media Training for Health Professionals workshop designed for student dietitians and other health professionals. Best of all it counts towards CPD points!
Or even better why start you own Blog, Instagram or Facebook page, and for something that gets a few more hits, skip the rig morale of doing it on your own, get the support of an editor, build some writing skills, stay up to date with the evidence and trending nutrition topics by applying for a role right here on The Nutrition Press.
With food businesses.
More and more products are released onto supermarket shelves each day, so why not join the movement and help business do it lawfully and in accordance with FSANZ. Also, what about the Food truck revolution sweeping the country (or in Melbourne at least)? There is potentially a need to assist these avid entrepreneurs with their new food endeavours.
The question here is, how are we going to feed the growing population and address current food insecurity in our own backyard? Come up with some ideas and launch them into the world of entrepreneurship. The Australian Government is investing $1.1 billion into innovation, so now is your chance. Australia is also investing $5 million into food projects that focus on procurement, production and consumption. The initiative is titled Launch Food and the deadline is near. If you have a grand idea pending, get it down on paper and submit it. As they say – ‘Welcome to the Ideas Boom’.
In Indigenous Health.
Although the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians has improved ever so slightly (including decreases in infants, child, cardiovascular and kidney disease mortality), Indigenous Australians still have a lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians, and rates of chronic diseases (including diabetes, end-stage kidney disease and coronary heart disease) still remain much higher than non-Indigenous Australians.
To get that foot in the door:
- Put your best foot forward and look at every networking event as a job interview.
- The relationship with you placement supervisors and university lectures are also interviews (in fact, every day of your student life and how you conduct yourself, is a potential interview – how many students already know which other dietitian students they would refer to when they finally get some work?!).
- Be a locum and broaden your clinical experience.
- Take the unpaid work as an opportunity to build skill and develop networks (think outside the box with this one, there are so many organisations that could benefit from a student dietitian on their volunteer list).
“You Are Brilliant and the Earth is Hiring” – Paul Hawken, Dumbo Feather Magazine -Issue 43.
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|1.||⇪||Howard, A. J., Ferguson, M., Wilkinson, P. and Campbell, K. L. (2013) Involvement in research activities and factors influencing research capacity among dietitians. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 26 SUPPL.1: 180–187. doi:10.1111/jhn.12053|