My RD Journey

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


2 Comments

Why I Made the Switch to an EMR Platform

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! There are a lot of really great things happening this Summer in my practice. I updated my website (again), am finally finishing my first book, and am gearing up to launch a virtual support group! I’m looking into a lot of online platforms for selling subscriptions/courses and I will post a blog once I finally decide on what I want to use.

One other huge thing I finally did this week was to make the switch to an EMR platform for patient charting and appointment keeping. I had been holding off since I started my practice back in 2014. Initially, I used paper charts in a filing cabinet, but realized this was a terrible idea due to my lack of space. For the past 3 years, I have been using an encrypted flash drive that I locked in a filing cabinet. Every one of my clients had a folder where I stored their initial/follow-up notes (Docs) and initial forms (PDFs). This saved me a lot of money initially, especially when I didn’t have a lot of clients.

Why I Switched
I’ve been thinking a lot lately how my “time is money” and trying to cut down or streamline the things that cause me to be less productive. One of those time sinks was how I was scheduling appointments and charting. I would normally email my clients open appointments, have them schedule through me, and then I would send the reminder email. I really wanted to have the ability to do more online bookings and integrate the calendar so reminders were automated. As for charting, I kept my flash drives at home, so I would have to be at home to type up client notes. I also encrypted my USBs with my Mac so I couldn’t use another operating system to open the files. There were also times when I needed to access a client’s information and I didn’t have a number on hand (in the case of a no-show) since I didn’t carry around the USBs. Lastly, I felt like moving to an EMR platform would be more secure and professional.

My Research Process
I’ll be honest; it took me forever to find a platform that I liked. I had tested out a few a couple of months ago; however, I didn’t really find one that suited my needs. I was also too focused on price when I first started looking, which wasn’t the best idea. I mean, I would spend almost an hour or two charting plus 1-2 hours scheduling appointments. If you think about your time as “money” I was losing money by wasting so much time on the admin side of things. So, my price point became more flexible once I thought about the time I would be saving.

What I Wanted
I would highly suggest doing the free trials and actually using the platforms with clients. Just looking around at the platform wasn’t enough to let me get a feel for how it would work with my practice. As you go through some of the free trials, take notes on what you liked and didn’t like to be able to compare platforms. I am already billing insurance with Navinet, which is free, and on specific insurances’ websites, so I knew that was not a feature I was heavily focused on. I also didn’t need multiple logins since I am the only RD in my practice that would be charting.

There were a few key features that I was looking for in an EMR platform. I wanted to be able to:
-Upload past notes
-Schedule client appointments in a calendar myself and to have clients to be able to do the same
-Edit templates for client forms
-Upload my own forms for clients to sign
-Access via an app
-Message clients via portal
-Have the ability to do secure video conferencing

In the end, I ended up with Simple Practice. This platform had the key features I wanted for a decent price. All-in-all I am happy I switched to an EMR platform. Even though it was time consuming at first to upload client files, I am much more efficient at scheduling and charting. I also find that I keep more detailed notes, especially for points of contact between appointments.

If you have any questions about EMR platforms, feel free to post a comment below!

Check out my previous blog for tips to running a weight management support group.

If you are interested in trying out Simple Practice, they have a free 30-day trial (where you don’t have to enter in credit card information). If you wanted to, you can use this link. If you end up deciding to go with them, we’ll both get a $50 credit towards our next subscription renewal. This post was not sponsored or influenced in any way by Simple Practice.

 

Advertisements


1 Comment

5 Tips for Running a Nutrition Support Group

Have you ever sat through a meeting, group discussion, or any class for that matter and thought, “I really wish ___ would stop talking and give someone else a chance?” This is one of the exact situations you want to avoid in leading group discussions within a support group (or class).

After running multiple weight management support groups and nutrition classes, I found the most effective sessions were those that had a designated topic and were gently guided. Below are 5 of the key tips that will help you run an effective support group style class!

1 – Come Prepared
Having a topic for your group discussion is absolutely key! This gives the class direction and focus. I would also suggest creating an outline with estimated time frames and talking points. I also had “extra” notes on my outline in case the class was smaller and/or a bit more quiet. Think also about 1 relevant topic handout you could provide and a recipe or two.

2 – Set Ground Rules
In the beginning of the first couple of classes, I laid out the ground rules for all of the participants. I made it a point to say that everyone is in a different place in their health journey and to be respectful of others’ viewpoints and struggles. You would be surprised how many times I had to remind adults of this. I also outlined the flow of the class (see below), noted the time constraint, and asked all phones to be put on silent or turned off.  

3 – Be Aware of Group Dynamics
During the first class or two, you will start to see different personalities emerge. I usually had a small group of participants who were the most engaged (i.e. always giving feedback/input), a handful of really chatty ones (who I often needed to cut off), a few silent listeners (some of which preferred to ask questions after the session finished), and maybe one (if any) aggressive or very negative participant. While you don’t want to put anyone in a “box” necessarily, being aware of the dynamic will help you facilitate more effective discussions and know when you might need to intervene. There are a ton of resources online that can help you in managing certain group dynamics if you feel stuck.

4 – Take Charge of the Discussion
After leading quite a few group classes, I began to realize that the most positive feedback I received was in regards to how I kept “in control.” Taking control of the class means allowing meaningful discussion, yet redirecting when needed. This also means (politely) cutting someone off who is chatting too much. This also means spinning negative comments into positive and actionable ones. If you feel like the class got a bit off track, don’t be afraid to redirect the discussion. Often I would say things like, “Suzie, you make a great point about exercise being a struggle. I will make note of your comments so we can focus on them when we get to that topic.” Avoid getting too far off track during every session since many of your participants could be really looking forward to the topic originally planned and may feel upset that it didn’t receive adequate time/attention.

5 – Create Actionable Goals
At the end of every group session, I would take about 5 minutes to have all participants write down an action goal for the week. I would give everyone the opportunity to share their goals and provide encouragement and support for others. I felt like this tied the discussion topic together and gave participants something positive to work towards (other than just weight).

conference-room-768441_1280

Sample Class Flow (1-hour)
I have run 45 and 60-minute support groups before. I always did the weigh-ins prior to the class (optional) and avoided talking about weight during the class discussion in an effort to keep things positive for all.
-Optional weigh-ins prior to class
-Introduction to myself (2 min)
-Ground rules/reminders (3 min)
-Discussion of last week’s topic/goals – what worked, what didn’t, questions (10 min)
-Topic introduction from Dietitian – why this topic is important, what I want to discuss (2 min)
-Main topic – Dietitian has talking points, ask class about struggles (8 min)
-Class input on topic – strategies that worked well for them (10 min)
-Additional questions/Dietitian recap (5 min)
-Goal setting + sharing (10 min)

Sample Support Group Topic Ideas
Be specific when choosing a support group topic. I tried to avoid broad topics (like weight-loss) and instead focus on particular habits or health attributes.
-Healthy snacks – components, samples
-Reading labels – what to look for, samples
-Eating on-the-go – can be broken into eating-on-the run and eating out
-Mindful eating – what is it and how to incorporate
-Tips for incorporating more fruits/veggies
-Incorporating exercise into a busy schedule
-What is meal balance – i.e. what should be on your plate
-Strategies for eating well: on vacation, over the holidays, at BBQs, etc


Leave a comment

5 Tips for Running a Cooking Class

Welcome back to MyRDJourney and a hello to all of my new followers! It has been a crazy few weeks with finishing a short-term teaching contract and balancing 30 clients with my practice. To be honest, I was also in a bit of a blog rut. Some of you reading this may have been here before. You feel like there is just nothing left to write about (although there is). Sometimes it just takes one conversation with a fellow RD (or in my case an RD-To-Be) to get those creative juices flowing again. Needless to say, I’ll be back on schedule with my bi-weekly Sunday postings!

7958-e1525611825215.jpeg

For all of 2016 and most of 2017, I was working with a contract company to do in-person cooking classes. This was a huge learning experience for me since I had only done food demos/samplings and not an hour long class before. I’ve since shifted gears to doing more individual cooking lessons as apart of my home-visit sessions; however, I wanted to share with you some great tips I learned after doing 3-4 classes every month for almost 2 years!

1 – Tailor Your Recipes
Before you even choose your recipe for a class, make sure you know what equipment will be available. If you are not given a full kitchen, think about how many outlets you have and the worktop space. Once you have that squared away, think about the audience you will be working with. Are these experienced adults, beginner cooks, or even children? Knowing your audience will not only help you to choose an appropriate recipe; but will also increase the likelihood of them actually making it once they are home.

2 – Test Your Recipe and Flow
Before the cooking class, test out your recipe and get a sense of the flow and how that relates to how much time you have. By flow I mean, how long did it take you to chop up the vegetables? How long did it take you to cook the soup? One of my biggest mistakes when I first started was not testing a recipe before class. I would think that I didn’t need test it since I made it a hundred times at home; however, making something at home is way different then doing it in a cooking class. It might take you longer to make a 20-minute recipe since you will be explaining every step and maybe having time for questions. Remember to also keep in mind the taste-testing part of the class. I typically allotted about 10-15 minutes for tasting at the end. You don’t want to be rushing your audience out the door with their plates.

cookingclass

3 – Make Use of Downtime
When planning your flow, think about the downtime too. What will you be doing when the cake is in the oven? Will you have questions? Will you make something else? One of my back-up plans for unexpected downtime was to make fruit-infused water. I would bring a little shaker bottle, some fresh fruit, and fresh herbs. I would make 1-2 combos and have everyone taste to fill any gaps in the class.

4 – Create a Recipe Outline
One of the best things I did for my classes was to create a recipe and time-flow outline. I would include recipe steps, measurements, estimated time, and key talking points. This helped me stay on track during the class since I would often get questions that diverted my attention.

5 – Set-up Your Space
Before every class, I would measure out all of my ingredients into colorful bowls of different sizes and place them on the counter in the approximate order of use in the recipe. It was so much easier to just dump out a bowl versus take the time to measure out everything in front of the audience. If I did everything during the class, I would have much more downtime and would have had to make sure I had double the measuring cups or stopped to wash things in between (which is not an efficient use of time).

When measuring out your ingredients, also think about pre-chopping some. One of my first cooking classes, I made a mango-tomatillo salsa. The recipe turned out great; however, I actually stood there and chopped 10 tomatillos and 3 mangos (talk about awkward silence). In hindsight, I should have chopped about 8 tomatillos and 2 mangos prior to make for a better class flow.

soupingred.jpg

Often, many of my clients are afraid to try a new recipe or even new ingredient for fear of the unknown (how to make or how it will taste). Running a cooking class can be a great way to show clients how healthy eating can be simple and delicious!

Make sure to check out the PorrazzaNutrition Facebook page since I have a LIVE mini-series going every Friday at 4:00pm EDT with tips on starting your private practice. Post a comment below if you have questions about running a cooking class or have another tip to include!


Leave a comment

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!

glasses-272399_1280

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


Leave a comment

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!


Leave a comment

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! 


Leave a comment

Top 5 Tips for Building Partnerships

Over the past few weeks, I have been writing about my tips for gaining clients. One aspect that I did not mention was on building partnerships with other health/medical professionals (or any professional for that matter). I had touched on this in week 2 of my full-time practice; however, today, I wanted to go a bit more in-depth.

Tip #1 – Do Your Research
It is a good idea to do a little recon before you reach out to any medical office, gym, health center, etc. Spend 3-5 minutes browsing their website or Facebook page. Get to know their mission, clientele, offerings, etc. This initial research not only prepares you for the connection; however, it can weed out companies that do not align with what you are doing. Say you find a health center that pushes a lot of supplements and has a nutritionist that gives out meal plans. If you do partner with them, would you be fighting an uphill battle? Do you agree with the types of meal plans they are promoting? How about the supplements? There is no harm in checking out the company and making the first connection; however, just be mindful of whom you are aligning yourself and your business with.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when an individual (or company) reaches out to me to partner (or utilize my expertise) without doing any research on myself or my business. I have had companies misspell my name or think I work in a different field (i.e. clinical or food-service). With a quick Google search, you can find out a lot about my business. It is off-putting to me when someone says incorrect information about my practice that is clearly stated on my website. It makes me think they didn’t do their research and that this relationship is not truly a priority for them.

Tip #2 – Make a Meaningful Connection
Make your first impression with any potential partner a meaningful one. Now, this doesn’t mean swinging by the place of business with your business cards and just dropping them off. Send an initial email or call-in. Schedule a good time to come in to speak with the owner, office manager, or doctor. During this time, discuss what you offer and how that could benefit the facility. Be clear about your expectations and how referrals or services will be rendered. Bring your business cards, but also bring samples of your work (i.e. newsletters, handouts, flyers about services, etc). These could all be things that you leave at the facility, which could bring clients to you.

Tip #3 – Offer a Freebie
As I just mentioned, newsletters or flyers about your services could be great items to bring by an office or health center. Often, companies will want something else for free in turn for sending clients your way. Offer to do employee lunch-n-learns for nutrition or offer free seminars on Diabetes for the patients (in-office). With both of these situations you could be handing out business cards and touting your services. A sample conversation could be, “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me today to brainstorm how we could work together to help patients lead healthier lives. I appreciate your willingness to leave my cards at your main office desk. Another service that I could offer to you and your facility would be my lunch-n-learns (or seminars). This would increase not only patient knowledge of _____, but also, help to get the word out about nutrition counseling. This, in turn, could improve patient outcomes and save some time for you and your staff (as in less education in the room).”

Tip #4 – Follow-up 
After your first connection, schedule a date to follow-up. You could discuss a date/time to follow-up at the end of your initial meeting. An example could be, “Thanks for taking the time to meet (or talk) with me. I can plan to follow-up in a week if that works well for you.” If a potential partner says they will follow-up with you after the meeting, I usually wait 1 to 2 weeks (max) before sending an email or making a call. Sometimes, people just get busy and forget. Other times, I had individuals who were not interested in my services and simply neglected to call and let me know. So, you take the responsibility to check-in and move forward with building a connection.

Tip #5 – Communicate Frequently 
One of the ultimate keys to building a lasting partnership is effective and frequent communication. This could be done in-person or via email or phone. Discuss how things are going. Are the referrals working? Has there been any feedback (positive or negative) about the services? Is the partnerships still worthwhile? What things need to change? When you have that open dialogue from both ends of the partnership, it sets a higher standard for both parties and shows the level of importance. I always think about how communication is essentially nurturing the relationship, whether it be personal or business-related. If you don’t communicate, you can’t address issues or celebrate successes that will ultimately improve the partnership.

What tips do you have for building lasting partnerships? Leave a comment and let me know!