I'm at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention/US Youth Soccer Workshop in Baltimore, Maryland. Today, I gave my presentation on nutrition in soccer titled "Fueling Tactics for Championship Performance." I feel very fortunate to work in an environment where I can blend both of my passions - nutrition and soccer. My undergraduate background includes exercise/sports sciences and psychology. My graduate degree was in nutrition and exercise physiology. I've been involved for 17-plus years in the health, wellness, and nutrition world. I have found one of my niches.
It makes me think about a piece of advise I received over a decade ago.. Beverly Price came to Teachers College, Columbia University in 2005 when I was in grad school to present her program on "Private Practice, Getting that Jump Start." Her course is excellent and I highly recommend it for any aspiring dietitians that want to enter the private practice arena. My quote on her website - "Beverly's program is outstanding. I am leaving motivated and ready to tackle the world!"
Angel Planells, Dietetic Student, New York, NY
Basically, we all need to find a way to feel valued and respected and be the nutrition expert by finding our niche. Otherwise, we run the risk of not spending enough time to develop and eventually will be a jack of all trades, and a master of none.
The biggest problem many of us will face in our career will be trying to find your own niche in the world. Some folks like to blog, and are damn great at it - kudos to you for the work that you put in. Others are great at recipe development, media, informatics, being an entrepreneur, focusing on renal, diabetes, oncology or whatever specialty that this wonderful field of food and nutrition has to offer.
Looking at social media and seeing all of the great things people do can make you go crazy - folks have become depressed and many feel like failures. I have many colleagues/former classmates that are doing amazing things. I am proud and happy for all of them, and wish them nothing but the best. One day, you will find your niche and you will be the expert in something - Rome was not built in a day, and finding your niche(s) won't happen overnight.
On a personal level, I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I am always trying to read, look at the latest research and try to stay versed in multiple topics. It is exhausting for our brains to try to retain all of this information. I dabble in a number of topics but throughout the years, my heart is in geriatrics (working with our home-bound Veterans and trying to improve their quality of life through nutrition), weight management (working with a number of folks and getting the adult weight management certificate), and sports nutrition. It took me a little while to get to this point but I have countless hours of experience and enthusiasm in these areas. I can work with a number of patients with a variety of nutritional issues, but when it gets to a very complex level, don't be afraid to reach out for the experts. Stay in your lane and be the expert in your area, and allow other experts to be the experts in their respective areas.
I've found my niches and am thankful and have lots of gratitude for being in this position. It may take weeks, months, or even years but eventually you will find your calling. That is the beauty of this profession, there are so many things that we can do.
Angel Planells MS, RDN CD is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist residing in Seattle, Washington. He specializes in lifecycle nutrition, sports nutrition, and weight management.