Amber Daniels

 

What inspired you to become a dietitian?

  • I was adopted when I was 9 months old and growing up, I knew nothing about my birth family other than a brief blurb about my mother’s medical history. Diabetes was quite prevalent in my genes, and I was very concerned about my future.  At the time, I had an older cousin who lost a battle with Type 1 Diabetes in her early 20’s. While I had limited knowledge about the differences in types of diabetes, I knew this was a condition I needed to avoid, if that was at all possible.  As I navigated my way through adulthood, I found a path through severe picky eating into constructing many healthy lifestyle adjustments and routines.  I became a dietitian because I felt empowered to optimize my own health outcomes and wanted to support others in finding their own path to their health goals.

 

Could you tell me about your educational background and the path you took to become a dietitian?  

  • I attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Nutrition. While my passion started with helping people with healthier eating and weight loss goals, I was inspired in college to pivot and learn how to impact individuals and family’s health when barriers such as income or access to healthy options presented additional challenges. Therefore, I pursued an internship with Sarasota County Schools District with a focus on School Food Service Management. Thereafter, I have paved my own path of continuing education shifting back to my passion of weight loss and earned certificates of training in the Adult Weight Management program (CDR) and the Life and Health Coach Certificate (Health Coach Institute).  I am currently working on completing my Certified Personal Trainer credential (NASM). I have enjoyed mentoring many dietetic students and interns to shine a light on the emerging possibilities of career opportunities and have helped them find a path to their passion!

 

Where has your career path led you?

  • I would not say I’ve taken a traditional path in dietetics. My footprints have crossed through many genres of nutrition environments such as the school nutrition management, (NSLP/SBP), preschool health and nutrition (CACFP), maternal and child nutrition at the health department (WIC) and community health education implementing SNAP Ed.  I learned so much about creative and collaborative ways to promote healthy choices and environmental supports while serving these populations.  While this was a highly rewarding path, I reached a certain point in my career where I was ready to return to my original passion and help people reach their individual health goals, with a focus on weight loss.  Honestly, I felt like I was a seasoned program manager and consultant returning to an entry level weight management specialist with no experience in ever guiding someone to achieve their entire weight loss goal.  Long story short, after I completed multiple continuing education courses to prepare a foundation for this field pivot, I pursued a management position at with local weight loss company and just dove in headfirst.  I now work for a different, long-standing organization committed to helping people with weight loss goals and I couldn’t be prouder of the impact we make!

 

What does a typical day or week look like for you as a dietitian?

  • Since November 2022, I’ve been employed with Medifast, Inc where we offer the world Lifelong Transformation, One Healthy Habit At A Time. I am on a team of Nutrition Support Agents that support Coaches and Clients with weight loss program, plan, and medical inquiries.  I work remotely from my home office and find such joy connecting with callers across the nation.  Each call, each day can be quite different in nature.  We benefit from a highly organized communication system that support a smooth workflow, which when working remotely is greatly appreciated!  Our team members contribute to varying special projects too, so I’ve provided presentations for events such a staff training and National Nutrition Month event support for employee wellness.  Every day, I hear phenomenal success stories of people who have transformed their health and I feel so lucky to have a supporting role in this process.

 

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being a dietitian?

  • The most rewarding aspects:
    • Just about every day I hear from people that have achieved outstanding, sustainable weight loss results. Some individuals are trying to lose weight for a big event or vacation; while other people are striving to normalize their lab values and reduce/eliminate medication needs. Some are even working towards a healthier BMI range to qualify for a much-needed surgery!   What a gift it is to be part of these transformations and allowing people more freedom from their habits, pain and disease management.
  • The most challenging aspects:
    • I learned this from a Floridian mentor RDN, then RDN’s are not typically educated in sales and handling objections, which are skills that really help compel people to commit to their health journey. It’s not so much about the sales, as it is in genuinely helping people say yes to the tools and believing in themselves when so many have had multiple, previous attempts at weight loss.  It’s more about helping RDN’s communicate their value, educate on the tools and solutions to sometimes weight loss challenges and helping them overcome them.

 

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in dietetics?

  • Join your local and national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Being connected to such a strong band of networking dietitians is a great way to level up in your career, to stay current with dietetic practices, and leverage skills and expertise.
  • Volunteering and shadowing, in addition to the dietetic internship rotations, can be powerful (short-term) ways to discover what you do and do not want to do in your career.
  • This field is growing quickly! Opportunities and work settings are available now that were only daydreams from my college classroom windows.  Stay open and if you discover a colleague working in a setting you’d like to pursue, don’t hesitate to reach out and request an interview with them to ask questions about their path!

 

What do you see as the future of the dietetics profession? 

  • I see a lot more RDN collaborations and dietitian digital platforms to share creative content that can elevate others in their tools and resources. (Shout out to RD2RD!).
  • I see more of a variety of virtual or remote opportunities on the horizon with capabilities of digital monitoring /technology devices entering the market.

 

What are some personality traits and characteristics it takes to be in your specific role?

As a Nutrition & Program Support Specialist, our team essentially takes Nutrition Support inquiries via calls and emails to answer questions or address concerns for coaches and clients.  Weight loss is not always a linear path, and we support various questions and barriers that arise along the way.  This requires a strong baseline of fundamental nutrition and medical knowledge, active listening skills, building rapport, motivational interviewing skills, problem solving, translation of organization protocol into digestible information. Working virtually requires extra effort in communication, teaming, and organization.  Additionally, this position requires optimism, patience, empathy, and effective written and oral communication skills to support coaches and clients in navigating the weight loss journey.