My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


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Pros and Cons of In-Home Counseling Services

When I first started my practice, I thought I NEEDED to get office space. After a few months of searching, I realized I was either going to be paying the same amount I do for renting a duplex or have to travel a distance for something more feasible. Instead, I decided to try my hand at in-home counseling sessions. It would cut down on costs (as in overhead) and allow me to build a client basis without the added stress of paying monthly rent.

I found a lot of my clients were more comfortable being in their own home versus a formal office. It also allowed them to show me products in their cabinets and give me a visual for their environment. I could also set up sessions for cooking and meal prep, since so many tell me that making healthy food is difficult for them. I find my home-session clients are less likely to reschedule and rarely cancel since weather, running behind, etc is less of an issue.

Most of the insurance plans I take in my practice cover in-home counseling, which was make or break for me when my only option was in-home counseling. Some insurance companies in your area may have different regulations for nutritional counseling, as in only an office setting. I would suggest checking the provider resource center for each individual insurance company or calling your network coordinator to find out what applies to your service.

While home-counseling sessions are definitely a great option, there are also some heavy downsides. One of the biggest downsides to home counseling is the travel. Home-visits really cut down the amount of clients I can see in one day. I really try to chunk my client areas so I am not going all over the place; however, some days this works better than others. Ultimately, you are still paying for gas and wear-and-tear on your car, but, you won’t have the looming monthly rent payment due. This could be great for someone just starting out. I make sure to track all of my mileage and tolls to use for tax purposes.  

To be honest, you never REALLY know what you might walk into with a client appointment, let alone one in the home. I always do a phone consult first to get an idea of the client. A lot of my clients are from referrals from companies or business relations, so I feel comfortable entering the home. I also make it a point to recommend a quiet space in the home (usually the kitchen or living room). Some things you might want to ask before entering a client’s home is if they have a private space available in the home to speak and whether or not they have pets (especially if you are allergic or fear them).

While most of my clients are in-home and on-site (as in worksite wellness), I do have a few clients who would prefer an office-based setting. In that case, I utilize office space at my local Chamber of Commerce since I am a member there. I have met clients at coffee shops; however, this is not a very private setting and is not covered by insurance.

One last thing to keep in mind with home-visits or traveling appointments overall is what you will take with you. I always have with me a notepad, handouts, new client folder, business cards, paper portion models, and a plate picture or model for reference. I almost never bring a scale with me (unless specifically requested) since most clients have one at home. I also don’t like to focus on weight and instead healthy habits.

All-in-all, I wouldn’t change how I started my business; however, for the future, I am starting to move away from a lot of the face-to-face and building more of the virtual end. A lot of my clients want online support, books, programs, etc. The face-to-face component will always be apart of my business, but the amount of time will definitely be changing. I hope my pros and cons will help you in deciding where to take your business!

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Private Practice – 1 Year in Review

I can’t believe I am saying this, but, I have officially been in full-time private practice for 1-year! I have had my practice since 2014; however, December 5th of 2016 was when I left my safe, full-time 9 to 5 job to grow my business.

So much has changed in just one year. I now have a full client load, in which I am scheduling about 6-weeks out for appointments. I am comfortable and competent with billing and calling insurance companies for claims. I eliminated aspects of my business that were just a poor avenue of income or a drain on my emotional well-being. I built and maintained partnerships with companies to bring wellness to them. I started teaching at the college level for the first time and am able to continue doing so with my practice in 2018. There are just so many wins I have had with my business and I am grateful to all of my friends/family who have given me guidance and encouragement along the way.

For today’s post, I wanted to share with you just some of my tips/insights from being PorrazzaNutrition for a full year.

Diversify 
I have had many partnerships change over just a few months. Some, I ended due to lack of professionalism. Some, were a steady source of referrals until they hit a business slump, which caused my client intake to decline too. All-in-all, make sure you reach out and connect with a variety of businesses to get your name out there. Don’t just rely on one company/partnership to make or break your business. Having a diverse number of partnerships will also put you in a better bargaining position, should that time come.

Find Your Passion and Motivation 
What motivates you to be in private practice? Is it the flexibility? Is it the freedom of designing your own path? Is it being able to help a greater network of clientele? Find out what motivates you! If I get overwhelmed or stressed, I stop and think about WHY I am here in the first place. This can really help me to get over the negativity I am feeling and push me to do more.

Always Make Use of Your Time
Being an entrepreneur means that you ride the roller coaster of financial and emotional ups and downs. If you find your business in a bit of a slump, maybe around the holidays, do something productive. Can you work on social media posts, blog topics, website design, or new programs? During my free time, I like to divide my days into “business” and “personal.” I make a list of things I want to accomplish when I don’t have clients to be able to grow my business. On the other side of things, I brainstorm what personal items I want or need to get done. I try to stick to the hours or days I determined I would work on my business to keep a personal boundary for myself.

Create a Positive Support System
The support I have gotten from my boyfriend, family, and friends has really lessened some of my bad days. Find at least one person that can be a sounding board for you. Someone who can tell you that you can do it. Someone who can push you to do more than you think is possible. Someone who can tell you when something is a terrible idea (it has happened to me on a few occasions). If you don’t have anyone personally you can count on for the moment, look to online groups. I am in a few different ones on Facebook and also within email threads. It’s nice to see you are not alone in your efforts and that many have been in your same shoes. It’s also a really awesome feeling to be able to support someone else in their private practice journey.

Take Time to Assess 
I have been keeping a business journal since the first day I started my business full-time. This has been a really useful tool for me. I write about positive and negative things I encounter in my practice, brainstorm new ideas, or just vent when I need to. Over the months, I can go back and see how far I have come in business and also reflect on some of my successes. I feel like keeping a journal has been a very grounding experience and also a way for me to just write and move on from something I may be overthinking.

Take the Chances
You never know what you might become or what you might do in the next month or year. So, don’t limit yourself by saying, “I can’t.” Take the opportunities when they arise, and not just for financial reasons, but for experience and growth. Network with others, keep your business connections, and stay open to new possibilities.
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Business Planning for 2018

The holidays are fast approaching and that means 2017 is coming to a close! I feel like this year flew by for me. This was my first year as a full-time business owner and I have loved every minute of it (even the stressful ones). Over the past few months, I found myself working IN my business versus ON it. I realized with overbooking myself, I was stunting my business growth. While the income was great, I was just going through the motions daily without creating anything new or challenging myself.

With that, I decided to start working on my business goals and strategy for 2018. I wanted to have a plan in place so I can start taking action steps for the many ideas that I have. Below are some of the questions I asked myself when thinking about my 2018 plan.

Questions to Ask Yourself
1. What is your ultimate vision for the end of 2018?
-Think of what you want your business to look like by Dec 2018. What does your day-to-day include? What is your schedule like? What types of clients are you seeing? This can help you to identify goals and action steps to take monthly and daily.

2. What are your large goals for the year?
-This could be launching a practice or starting a new program. Think about larger goals being more long-term (i.e. to accomplish in 6-8 months).

3. What are your smaller goals for this year?
-This could include working on marketing to local businesses or incorporating more social media posts. Think about smaller goals as being more short-term (i.e. weekly or monthly).

4. Why is all of this important?
-Think about the importance of each of your goals. This will help with driving your motivation and also developing a targeted strategy for building and marketing.

5. What pitfalls do you want to avoid?
-Think about the hangups you had this year in business. Did you tend to overbook yourself? Are you doing too much on your own? Are you lacking personal time? Are you saying yes too much? Be aware of the things you want to work on and build them into your goals and ultimately your schedule. Write out monthly reminders to yourself to help avoid these pitfalls throughout the year.

After I asked myself the questions above (doesn’t have to be in this order), I brainstormed all of the steps I needed to take for each of my ideas and goals. I actually did this over a few days while on the train and waiting for appointments. After I had a comprehensive list, I organized the steps into a logical order and began to map them out on my calendar as due dates.

I also planned out the dates I wanted to schedule clients and when I would be working ON my business. One of my main goals for this year is to not overbook myself and instead stick to the boundaries I set. Although this will include my having to say “no” sometimes, I know this will be really important for my business and my sanity!

I hope this post helps you to plan out a successful 2018! Happy holidays!

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Ask the Dietitian (Student Edition)

Welcome back to My RD Journey! I am finally getting into a groove of teaching and running my business. I am looking forward to the holiday break when I can work on planning some more online packages for my clients. My goal is to have a fully functional online business with products and downloadable content to lighten up my face-to-face service. All in good time.

Over the past week, I moderated two career panels with Dietitians for students at college-level. The students had a lot of great questions and it prompted me to expand more on some of the topics in today’s blog. I have been thinking about doing an, “Ask the Dietitian,” within my blog anyways and I figure that this would be a great topic to start with!

How do you get experience?
For both the dietetic internship (DI) and future jobs, experience is going to be key. For RDs-to-be, you can start with your local hospital. See if you can land a position as a food and nutrition aide in the kitchen. If no-one is hiring, look at volunteer positions. Can you volunteer at a hospital, long-term care facility, food bank, food pantry, soup kitchen, etc? Reach out to local RDs and see if you can shadow them or help on a project (like a class). One really awesome thing that a fellow RD said this past week was that it isn’t necessarily the type of position you get, but the experience YOU gain from it and how that can be related back to dietetics. Let’s say you are a server at a restaurant. You could be gaining customer service skills and food safety knowledge; all of which are critical in dietetics.

How do you deal with the monetary aspect of the DI?
Start saving now! Put away that Birthday money. Put your tips and checks right into the bank. Think twice about spending on frivolous items.  I didn’t realize until my Sophomore year of college that there was a DI AND it was unpaid AND we paid them AND it was after graduation. I worked since I was 14-years-old, and I was used to putting away the money I earned, since my parents were huge on saving (thank you Mom and Dad). Besides saving, look at internships that offer financial aide, scholarships, and/or stipends. Also, do some research into scholarships from the Academy of Nutrition and your state and local groups. From what I hear about these scholarships, they often have minimal students even apply, so your chances are good!

Can you work during the DI?
Going along with the previous question, yes you can work during the DI. A lot of internships will tell you not to do so; however, it really depends on your work ethic and level of time management. I worked weekends during my DI and the occasional weeknight. I know other interns at the time, who could barely keep up with the workload, let alone a side job. If you can handle a job on the side, without sacrificing your learning experience, great. Just remember to be clear with your boss on what the DI entails. Look for positions that are flexible with hours and can accommodate a changing intern schedule. Even if you don’t work during your DI, you still want to make sure you plan your time well to accomplish all of your competencies and assignments.

What are some of the top skills for the DI and career that you feel would lead to success? 
I wrote a blog on this topic a few months back; however, I want to hone in on one really key point, “Never burn a bridge in dietetics.” Really though, the world of dietetics is so small! The dietitian who took my position at my last job before starting my practice full-time had interned with a Dietitian I knew and went to school with. I learned about my current teaching role from an RD I connected with about a year ago and kept in contact with on social media/listservs. I would have never known about the teaching position or maybe even gotten the job had I not been friendly with her. So, even if you don’t think you will need a connection, always keep it open and professional. Save business cards. Follow-up with old preceptors. You never know when you might run into that person again!

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Feel free to post a comment with your question for the Dietitian! I will answer and include in my next “Ask the Dietitian” post! 


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Top 10 Skills for Dietitian Entrepreneurs

Have you debated going the entrepreneurial route? Thinking about starting a private practice as a Dietitian? You may be wondering if you have what it takes to succeed. After being in business for 3 years now, I have learned a lot about my skills and what I need to hone in on to have my practice thrive.

Below, I outline 10 different skills/traits that are crucial to your success, whether it be in private practice or in another business venture. While you may not feel that you are strong in all of these areas, the more you push yourself and your comfort level, the more enhanced these skills will become.

#1 – Passion 
Whether you will enter the realm of entrepreneur as a Dietitian or any other professional, you need to be passionate about what you do. This passion will drive your business and fuel your motivation through tough times.  Your passion will resonate with clients and show them that you truly care about what you do.

#2 – Perseverance
Throughout business, you will have many ups and downs with both income and overall success. Contracts may fall through, clients may drop out, your business may change, etc. Perseverance is key to keeping yourself from throwing your hands in the air and walking away. All of your hard work will pay off!

#3 – Self-Confidence 
While you may not feel confident in every aspect of running a business, be confident in your niche, your talent, what you bring to the table. As an entrepreneur, you are constantly selling yourself and your products/services. If you don’t believe in yourself and have confidence in your abilities, why should prospective clients or companies?

#4 – Self-Motivation
As an entrepreneur, you are the boss. You don’t have a manager telling you what to do at all hours of the day. You are not walking into an office where there is a list of duties or set of expectations for your role. YOU create that role. YOU create those expectations. Can you motivate yourself when no one is standing over your shoulder? If you are struggling with how to motivate yourself, take some time to figure out what drives you to succeed. Is it making more money? Having more freedom? As an entrepreneur, I can say from experience that you won’t necessarily feel motivated, or confident for that matter, every single day. You should be able to motivate yourself and be a self-starter at least 90-95% of the time.

#5 – Strong Work Ethic 
Having a strong work ethic can be described in a number of different ways. I like to think of quality, integrity, and responsibility as attributes that someone can exhibit within their “strong work ethic.” Your quality of work and service will speak for itself and drive clients to your door (I have seen this first hand without the use of paid marketing).

#6 – Ability to Multitask 
Being the boss means that you may wear many hats (especially if you work alone), but, it can also mean you oversee many departments and thus need to be aware of the inner-workings of each. I feel that there is a fine line between what is effective and what is overwhelming and hinders production. When I think of multitasking, I think of the various things I need to accomplish on a daily basis: posting to social media, seeing clients, fielding calls, answering emails, writing content or lessons, etc. Some of these things may happen simultaneously. The key is not stretching yourself too thin, but managing these tasks efficiently.

#7 – Effective Time Management
Number 6-8 all go hand-in-hand. With having multiple items on your plate each day, you need to learn how to effectively manage the time you have. Know when your best hours are to work on administrative tasks. Know when you tend to see and schedule clients. Remember to leave some time for yourself daily (if not weekly) to recharge your batteries. Running on empty will hinder your productivity and ultimately ruin plans for time management. Before you know it, you are sucked into 3-hours of Netflix and haven’t accomplished a thing for your business.

#8 – Organization
I would say the number one skill to have as an entrepreneur is a high level of organization. This is especially important in the beginning stages of your business planning. If you are a Dietitian and plan to become an insurance provider, you will need to keep track of applications, billing codes, claims, etc. Being organized means that you manage your time well, finish tasks by their deadline, and are on top of scheduling. One of the key things I have learned with keeping myself organized is to prioritize my day-to-day tasks and anticipate when I will accomplish the non-priorities. I also found having systems in place for my administrative tasks is helpful. I have a system for how I schedule clients, how I store files, how I chart, etc.

#9 – Flexibility 
You may have your day or even week planned to a perfect T and then, disaster hits. Two clients need to reschedule, you get 2 new calls of potential clients, your seminar outline is taking longer to write than you thought, etc. Within any role, as an entrepreneur or an employee, you need to be flexible. Things will happen that will throw your day off. Take a minute to regroup and then prioritize what is ahead of you. Being flexible means using many of the other skills mentioned before: time management, organization, strong work ethic, etc. Every day will not go as planned and that is okay!

#10 – Continuous Learner
One final skill I want to touch on is being the continuous learner, which can be related to the field of nutrition or business. Never stop challenging yourself or pushing your boundaries. Continue to learn, enhance your skills, and become a polished professional.

After reading through this post, what can you identify as your strengths and weaknesses? As I mentioned earlier, you may not feel strong in all of these areas of your business. If you do feel one or two areas need improvement, can you take an online course to enhance those skills? Or, could you take on a partner or an employee that would fulfill these tasks? As an entrepreneur, you may not be able to handle everything in your business, especially as it begins to grow. Identify what your are priorities and where you can delegate or outsource other tasks.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

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For more information on preparing yourself for private practice, click the LINK.

For tips on starting a private practice, click the LINK.


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Dietitian Interview Tips

Welcome back to My RD Journey! Things have been a bit crazy over here the past few weeks. I half expected my client load to decrease with the end of summer and beginning of the school year; yet, it is has been the opposite, which is good! I also got the opportunity to teach an in-person class at a local community college for this semester. It was super last minute as in I found out about it on Thursday, interviewed Friday, went to an in-service the following Monday and started teaching Wednesday. I didn’t have access to anything, just a textbook and role-book on my first day. I am now heading into week 4 of classes and I love it! I love being able to teach young minds about nutrition and I especially love that I have so much flexibility in how I teach the materials. Despite the craziness in my schedule, I love that I have the opportunity to teach and ultimately grow professionally. It is very gratifying!

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about my business and the direction I want to move in. I have enough clients to bring on another Dietitian, yet, I am hesitant to do so since I would have to change up my business structure, figure payroll out, and whatnot. I know a few other RDs that do this; however, I am not sure if this is my ideal long-term business plan. I am also finishing up the editing for my first book and I definitely want to get it out for September. I have about 6 other book ideas fleshed out (some for RDs and some for public); however, I am just struggling to find time to write. I am at the point where I could just continue with my current load of clients and classes; however, a part of me wants to change it up. I also want to have more time to myself versus running around every day. I am wondering if teaching is something I will end up wanting to do more of long-term. Anyone else reach this turning point in their business? What did you do in moving forward?

Since I had recently interviewed for a college faculty position, I wanted to share some of the tips I gained. Whether you are a new RD looking for a job out of your internship or an RD that is debating switching careers, these tips will hopefully provide you with some insight.

(Dietitian) Interview Tips 

1 – Do Your Research
For almost every interview I had, I was asked the question, “Why did you choose ____(insert facility name here” or something along those lines. So, think to yourself, “Why are you interested in this facility or this position?” If you are just trying to get any job, spend a few minutes on the company’s website or Facebook page. Are there programs that they run that you think are great? What about their philosophy for wellness or patient care? Pinpoint some aspects of the facility that you could touch on in the interview.

2 – Bring the Essentials
For my interview, I brought in my resume, CV (which had more detailed information about my education), cover letter, list of 3-4 references, and some examples of my work. Even if the information was submitted already online or via email, I always bring hard copies with me. I have had interviewers put my copies in with my employee file or review with me during the interview. When thinking about bringing work examples, I tailor the materials towards the type of interview I am in. For example, with teaching I had sample lesson plans I wrote for high school students and adults. I normally wait to bring out my work samples until it comes up in conversation.

3 – Be Prepared
If you haven’t interviewed in a while (or ever), make sure you do some practicing with a friend or family member. Go through some of the most common interview questions like: what are your strengths and weaknesses or what is your teaching philosophy or why would you be a good fit for this position or how would you handle scenarios for conflict or working in teams. Trust in the education and experience that you have!

4 – Dress to Impress
I always say to fellow Dietitians and interns that it is better to dress up and be told to dress down than the opposite. Come to the interview in your best professional attire even if you know the position you are applying for involves wearing scrubs.

5 – Come with Questions
When you go in for an interview, you are also, in a sense, interviewing the facility/interviewer. Will this place be a good fit for you? Do they offer the benefits you need? Always come prepared with questions. The last thing you want to do is get into a job and realize it was not what you expected! Ask what a typical day looks like for the Dietitian. Ask about the interview process or training procedures. Don’t be afraid to come with a list of questions to ask. This also shows your organizational skills, that you prepared for the interview and you care about your role as a Dietitian.

Remember to just be yourself and trust in the experience that you have. Leave a comment and let me know your best interview tips!


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Tips for Writing Your First Book

Welcome back to My RD Journey! For the past few months, I have been working on my first book! I had been thinking about writing a book for the past year now, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I actually thought I COULD do it. I was so full of self-doubt about my skills as a writer and my ideas as a Dietitian, that I was terrified to start compiling ideas for my book. I mean who am I to write a book?!

I purchased a few books (see below for my recommendations) and before I knew it, I was more than excited to write. I started testing my book ideas out with my clients and fellow Dietitians and I became more confident in my book ideas. After a while, I started to have this “itch” to write something tangible that people could use long-term. Is weird as this may sound, it was like I NEEDED to write and it truly became a passion of mine.

At this point, I finished a first full draft of my book and have it out to my beta readers for commenting. I must had re-read and edited 100 times before sending it to my first reader! Once I get the edited versions back, I will do another couple of revisions before the final editing process. I have decided to self-publish, so I have a bit more back-end work to do.

Anyways, for today’s post, I wanted to share with you some of the resources and tips that helped me in the beginning stages of writing my first book!

Create a Timeline 
One thing I did not do for this book, but plan to do for my future ones is to create a timeline for writing and editing. I started toying around with my book idea in May, but it wasn’t until almost July that I had content written down. In August, I started planning out when I would edit, send copies to my beta readers, re-edit, etc. Having a timeline pushed me to work harder and gave me a clear vision of my book’s path. I highly suggest getting together a timeline for your book now.

Practice Writing
If you don’t currently have a blog or social media page, get one! Start practicing your writing skills. The more you write, the more you learn about yourself, your style of writing, your method of writing, etc. Are you someone who likes the pen and paper? Would you rather type it out? Does writing at home distract you? Learning about yourself now, will help when you start writing a longer-form book.

Pull From Previous Content
If you have been blogging or writing articles for a while, pull from that content when creating a book. Think back to previous lessons and presentations. All of that material can become apart of your book. Use the great things you have already created as an outline for this book or future ones!

ID How to Capture Ideas 
I often get random ideas about books or content for the book I am writing while driving, showering, or sitting on the train. One of the biggest tips I have is to find a way to capture these ideas. I now carry around a small notebook to jot down thoughts. I have a notepad app on my phone that also voice records, and I keep a brainstorming document on my laptop. I never remember all of the fleeting ideas I have, so being prepared with ways to capture them has been super helpful.

Join Mastermind Groups

I am apart of a few different writing groups, one of which is within the AND. I love these groups for not only the tips, but also, motivation! Join online groups, email newsletters, or in-person meet-ups!

Get Over Your Fears
Your first book may not be your greatest book, and that is totally okay! Put your heart and soul into what you are doing and just know that the second time around, you will be even better. You will always have people who dislike your content, whether it be a book or blog. You will also always have your die-hard readers and followers. Focus on that positive energy! One thing I kept reminding myself in this process is that I know what I write will at least help one person (even if that one person is a family member).

Just Write 
For about 2 months, I was so concerned with learning the best way to write, the best way to market my book, and the best way to format my book, that I didn’t actually even write anything! I was psyching myself out of writing thinking about all the things I needed to do. I pushed that all aside and basically said to myself that I was worrying over a product that I didn’t even have yet! My final piece advice to aspiring writers out there is to just write. Get it all out on paper first and then worry about the rest.

Are you thinking about or currently writing a book? What have been your most helpful tips in the writing process? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Great Books That Relate to Writing/Creativity/Niche:
Make Your Idea Matter
Start Writing Your Book Today
Writing the Damn Book
The War of Art

Look out for my first book coming SEPTEMBER 2017!