“I am going to positively impact the lives of others through health and wellness as a dietitian.”
Taking the road less traveled
I had just gotten out of my first nutrition class at 2:30 PM, and at 2:31 PM I remember strutting to career services confident with my decision to pursue nutrition and dietetics as an area of study. I waited for about an hour before my name was called to speak with one of the career counselors.
She told me the 3 requirements to become a dietitian:
- Complete a bachelor’s degree and receive a verification statement from an ACEND-accredited program
- Complete an ACEND-accredited supervised practice comprised of 3 internship rotations (Clinical, Administrative, and Community)
- Pass the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s dietetic registration exam
Now this would be the normal, cookie-cutter path if you entered university as a nutrition major, but that wasn’t my track.
A change of plans
The counselor told me that it was very exciting that I knew I wanted to become a dietitian. However, due to the fact that I was going into my junior year and had not taken the required prerequisite courses, I would have to pursue becoming a dietitian after my undergraduate education.
In the meantime, she suggested that I minor in nutrition and dietetics while simultaneously looking for internship rotation experiences in order to make me a more competitive candidate when applying to post-grad programs.
…and that is exactly what I did.
Sunny with a chance of rain
I knew going into my internship search that the acceptance rate was only about 50%, but that didn’t stop me. I was going to be in the 50% that did get accepted. I just knew it.
And with that zeal, I began applying for dietetic internships every minute I could.
I investigated my options in California (my home state), but I consistently received the same discouraging response: “I’m sorry, but we are currently not taking any interns at this time,” or better yet: “We are not taking any interns that will not be graduating with a Bachelor’s in nutrition and dietetics.”
These were just two examples of the types of responses I received month after month. I felt at a loss; maybe I just hadn’t discovered my chosen path soon enough. Maybe I should just give up…
Note to self: never give up
I could have stopped there, but nah, not my style.
I realized that it wasn’t the goal I had to change, but rather my approach! Instead of focusing on specific geographical locations, I focused on whom I wanted to be my mentor in the field of nutrition, dietetics, and wellness.
And I knew exactly who that person was.
The one, the only, Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN
I had seen her on TV, starring on The Today Show and Fox 8 News, read her name in national magazines and newspapers like “Women’s Health Magazine” and “The New York Times,” and heard her praised by my professors as Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute’s manager, award-winning dietitian, and expert presenter.
In my eyes, she was the pinnacle of what a dietitian should be. She possessed the 3 R’s:
- Readily able to present science in a way that could be understood to any audience she spoke to
So, me being me, I reached out to non-other than the boss lady herself. I expressed my drive and passion for nutrition, health, and wellness to her via email and then waited eagerly for her response. It went a little something like this:
I already have a summer intern coming but would be happy to connect to see if there is another opportunity somewhere on the west coast.
Although I was extremely grateful for her offer, I was simultaneously heartbroken. Maybe I wasn’t going to get an internship after all…
11:11 wishes do come true
Fast-forward to one-month later when I got another e-mail from Kristin. Here is the e-mail:
(You bet I saved it)
If you had asked me if I ever thought I would end up in Cleveland, Ohio, my answer would have been “No,” but that’s how life can surprise you.
Cleveland here I come!
Learning from the best
Upon my arrival at Cleveland Clinic, Kristin met me in the front lobby, her smile was so inviting, and I knew this was where I was meant to be. She introduced me to the interdisciplinary team, and then we got to the good stuff.
Every day was different, and every day I learned more.
Some days were spent at the institute, reviewing the latest scientific research on trending topics we would present to various public audiences and leaders in the medical field.
Some days we made our way to local news stations to do nutrition segments.
Some days were spent perusing farmers markets and grocery stores, checking out the latest products.
And some days were spent meeting with clients for nutrition assessments and consultations.
My experiences didn’t stop there.
I also had the opportunity to work closely with Jim Perko, CEC, AAC, Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute’s Executive Chef and master of culinary medicine (truly a magician in the kitchen). Our time was often spent crafting and cooking healthy dishes that never compromised on flavor; running nutrient analysis on recipes to ensure nutritional adequacy; or demoing delectable bites of food at corporate and local events.
It’s safe to say that this summer shaped me into the dietitian I am today. It was this summer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, where I learned, where I grew, and where I developed friendships that would last a lifetime.
My Top 5 Cleveland Clinic Takeaways
- The importance of a whole-person and lifestyle change approach to the prevention of chronic illness
- That food is one of the most powerful tools to prevent and reverse disease
- That healthy food can fuel our bodies and simultaneously taste great
- Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy mind, body and soul
- Through providing evidence-based nutrition information I can positively impact the individual’s health, longevity, and quality of life.
Jasmine El Nabli MS, RD
Creating healthy eating and lifestyle habits without the right tools, skills, and knowledge is often seen as a daunting task, but that’s where I come in. I am here to show you that becoming the happiest and healthiest version of yourself can be done!
Through the combination of a whole-body approach and scientific research, I empower and educate individuals on how to implement small changes into their daily life that in turn lead to sustainable and lifelong healthy habits.
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