STEM JOBS

EARLY FALL 2017

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34 EARLY FALL 2017 // STEMJOBS.COM MELANIE MULLINS Surprisingly, Melanie started her education after high school toward a career as a textile designer, but by her second year of junior college, she was uncomfortable with that choice. Her mother, who instilled health nutrition in Melanie as she grew up on a farm in the central valley of California, suggested dietetics as a career. After researching the field in the library, Melanie talked with a friend of her mother who explained what the job was about. She learned that there would always be a need for registered dietitians in any city, at many different companies such as hospitals, extended care facilities, food or drug manufacturers, fitness centers, and governmental positions. "I also discovered early on that I had a weakness for fainting at the sight or sound of someone in pain," Melanie revealed. "I realized that the nursing field was not a good fit for me!" But dietetics has been a great fit. A graduate of California Polytechnic University with a bachelor's degree in dietetics and food administration, Melanie completed dietetic training at Portersville State Hospital in Portersville, Calif. She successfully passed the registered dietician's exam and worked as a nutritionist in several locations, including hospital and clinic positions. She became a board-certified specialist in renal nutrition in 2005. The educational requirements in this field are very strict, explains Melanie. Only graduates of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) are eligible to take the exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist or dietetic technician. Students can complete a Coordinated Program in Dietetics on the undergraduate and graduate level that includes dietitian coursework and supervised practice. An alternative is a Didactic Program in Dietetics on the undergraduate and graduate level, in which dietician coursework is done prior to completing the internship requirement. Students interested in dietetics, Melanie advised, should work closely with an advisor at the college level who can direct them to a school with the ACEND accreditation. STEM skills required for this job, Melanie explains, include an understanding of the science of nutrition and its relationship to the human body. Analytical thinking is required for problem solving. Melanie reports she uses math, measurement, and calculations daily in her treatment of patients, working with team members, and preparing reports. Students interested in working in this field should seek out those employed as dietitians and visit the website Eatright.org, operated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The future of the dietary industry is limitless, advises Melanie. "The lack of imagination is one's only limitation. You can make a global impact worldwide helping others in undernourished countries or in all areas of America. The field of dietetics is still young, still in discovery." Melanie found each new position she accepted helped her to acquire new knowledge and meet new challenges. "Each led me to new horizons in understanding how to help those in need—in a community setting or a clinic setting. There is always someone to help." MELANIE T MULLINS, RD RENAL DIETITIAN III DEGREE: BACHELOR'S IN DIETETICS AND FOOD ADMINISTRATION YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 38 STEM TYPE: ADVISOR "I DISCOVERED EARLY ON THAT I HAD A WEAKNESS FOR FAINTING AT THE SIGHT OR SOUND OF SOMEONE IN PAIN. I REALIZED THAT THE NURSING FIELD WAS NOT A GOOD FIT FOR ME!"

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