Dietitian Conferences: More Than Free Food Samples
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining over 10,000 of my dietitian colleagues at our annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, belovedly known in the RD community as FNCE (pronounced “fen-cey”). This is my second time attending the event since becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist two years ago. While many of my colleagues are writing their FNCE 2016 blogs about spotted food trends, I am using my post-conference time reflecting on why it’s important for dietitians to attend professional conferences. And no, it’s not for the free samples, swag, or continuing ed credits.
More people are becoming aware of the role nutrition plays in health and disease prevention (yay!). As a result, everyone is now a nutrition expert (boo!). And today’s technological advances make it easy for incorrect nutrition information to reach the general public (double boo!!). So here are my take-aways from FNCE 2016 in regards to the dietetics profession:
1) There is no success without risks – and a little silliness
A common theme among FNCE and the presentations was that dietians
need to stop playing it safe when it comes to our careers in order to gain credibility from the public. Gone are the days of hiding in lab coats at a hospital, tucking dietary recommendations among discharge papers. Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics president Lucille Beseler set the tone at the opening ceremony that without risks, we can’t make progress towards our credibility in helping the public when it comes to nutrition. Keynote speaker, Shark Tank‘s Barbara Corcoran, shared her rags-to-riches story at the opening ceremony and prides herself how not taking herself (or her employees) too seriously lead to her success. Even the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Spotlight Session emphasized how comedy and lightheartedness make dietitians more relatable to the public (and included an awesome Adele parody). BOTTOM LINE: LIGHTEN UP SO YOU CAN GROW!
2) Network like your career depends on it – because it does
I am baffled by the number of FNCE attendees who spend time in their
pod of friends/colleagues and don’t take advantage of the 1,000 networking opportunities that are offered throughout the conference. Even talking to the person next to you at an educational session can open a new door, personally or professionally. Don’t just grab a free food sample at the Expo and move on. Chat with the person at the booth (who most likely is an RD) – you never know what connection can be made. And don’t let those collected business cards fall to the bottom of your purse – follow up and give a post-FNCE hello. Something may not come of it today, but you never know when that stranger you struck up a conversation with can become a business partner. BOTTOM LINE: OPENING YOUR MOUTH CAN OPEN OPPORTUNITIES
[ctt template=”5″ link=”b2SmI” via=”yes” ]#FNCE is not just about free food samples. Check out these professional takeaways for dietitians from FNCE 2016. #RDchat @MandyEnrightRD[/ctt]
3) Be a Nutrition Know-It-All – because YOU ARE!
It’s no secret how vocal I am that dietitians need to be much louder in the
media and among our circles. In an era where we are fighting against anyone with an iPhone and Instagram account, it’s more vital than ever that we tout our nutrition expertise. While we are not expected to be an expert in all things nutrition, each dietitian has certain areas of interest and experience. Back your claims up with science, and keep educating yourself to fill in the gaps. BOTTOM LINE: UNTIL PEOPLE START LISTENING TO THE SCIENCE BEHIND NUTRITION RECOMMENDATIONS, KEEP TALKING!