My RD Journey

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


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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 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 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.
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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!


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Business Lessons Learned – Letting Go

This past month, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do long-term with my business. One major thing I learned is that it is okay to just let go. Let go of aspects of your business that are not working. Let go of hangups you have on moving forward. Let go of bad business connections.

I used to think of letting things go as a sort of moral failure; that I just wasn’t working hard enough at whatever it was to make it succeed. The fact is that I have changed since I started my business and I can guarantee many of you reading this have done the same at some point in your career. Maybe the change was gradual and you didn’t even notice it right away or maybe it was sudden and out of necessity. I needed the change in my business to become a better and more well-rounded professional. Letting go does not mean you didn’t put in the time and effort for success. It is not to be seen as a “failure,” but a learning experience, opportunity for growth, or chance to try something new.

I challenge you to look at your business with an outside perspective. What is eating at your time and not producing results? What connections are more damaging to your business and/or productivity than they are beneficial? What can you you let go of for the opportunity to grow?

Earlier this week, I sat down at my business journal and just brain dumped what I was thinking. I wrote down things I wish I had known (and did now), tips for myself, frustrations, “aha” moments, just everything. I filled almost 4 pages with random thoughts and it was actually quite invigorating. Going back a few days after writing, I realized there were some gems in my string of random thoughts. If you have a rough day (or month) or even a great one, take a few moments to just write out your thoughts on paper. No judgement. No worries about grammar. Just write and see what realizations you come to have about yourself and your business. This could help you in taking the next step in your business or changing the way you run things.

Below are just a few of the many business tips and realizations I brain dumped that day.
-I think I would like (and need) a secretary to help with fielding calls and scheduling appointments. (This made me look into online scheduling software).
-I like guiding and teaching, which make me want to search out more opportunities to do presentations and also develop more programs to coach or work with other Dietitians.
-Some days, I am just completely unmotivated and that is okay. Every day won’t be super productive. Just as long as those unmotivated days don’t become an issue for business.
-Mid-day gym sessions really boost my productivity and momentum.
-A support system can really make or break you. Just having that 1 person makes a world of difference.
-Some days you just work late.
-I wonder how other people see me and my business. I wonder how I could gauge this.
-I need to DO more than THINK. I spend too much time planning and overthinking that this sometimes leads to inaction.
-Relating to your clients is key. Trust begins here and they feel safer opening up.

Have you ever just brain-dumped in a journal? What “aha” moments did you have? Leave a comment and let me know!


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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! 


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Private Practice Tools & Apps

When I first started PorrazzaNutrition, I did a lot via paper (i.e. my accounting, charting, etc) and I soon realized just how many files I was accumulating. Over the past couple of years, I have implemented a few systems/applications in my practice and I have complied a list of just some of them for you today. There are tons of competing products/services on the market; however, these were ones I have used personally and were satisfied with. This is not a sponsored post and I do not work for any of the companies featured below.

Organization
Trello– I have just started using this free app/site and it is awesome for individuals and teams! I love that you can create different boards (topics) and lists. I used for long-term lists and also for some of the committees I am on. I also use the boards as ideas for my blogs and then I list out talking points. It is great for me when I am not able to sit down and write on paper.
Google Drive- If you have not used GD, start now! You get a ton of free storage! I store informational sheets, blank assessment forms, and documents that I use most often on-the-go. It is way better than storing a ton of stuff on my laptop and then only being able to access if I am on it. I use GD a lot for committees I am on. It is easier to share a folder with the minutes than emailing documents back and forth every month.
Tools for Wisdom Planner– I am totally still a pen-and-paper planner person. I tried using an online calendar and hated it! I like crossing things out and being able to flip through the months with a paper planner. I am super picky about my planners and will spend hours trying to find a good one each year (haha). I currently use the Tools for Wisdom since I specifically wanted a planner with a month view plus the days in columns with an hour-by-hour format. The pages are thick enough that highlighters do not bleed through (I am a color coding queen). I might switch up again for next year since this does not include any 2018 months. I am totally open to suggestions here!

Accounting – Quickbooks
When I first began my practice, I didn’t have a ton of income/expenses so I just tracked using ledger sheets. After about 2 years, I started looking around and Quickbooks came up a lot. It is super simple to use and cheap (I pay $5.30/month). You can save different transactions for the future so they are automatically categorized as they come in. I use the app a lot on-the-go, especially since you can scan in receipts. I still use a separate accounting sheet to track unpaid classes or checks that have not been cashed yet. It definitely makes tax season a lot simpler since you can just import your information from Quickbooks without having to enter in everything manually.

Media
Dropbox– I have the Dropbox app on my phone and computers and it makes it really easy to upload files or pictures. I take a ton of photos and it syncs automatically with my computer where I can then move them to an external hard-drive or save to my photos.
-Canva– Awesome for designing posts for social media, blogs, etc. So many free images/templates.
Pixabay–  Royalty free pictures. I take a lot more of my own photos now; however, this was really helpful for me initially.
Snapseed– Free app for editing photos. One of the best I have used so far.
Tiny Scanner– Free app that functions as a portable scanner. Your scans can be saved as a PDF or an image. I have the free version and just delete the scans once they are uploaded to where they need to be. Really useful for scanning large documents especially if you are out or don’t have a scanner at home (mine is a bit temperamental).

Newsletters – MailChimp
I use MailChimp for my bi-monthly newsletters. I also embedded a sign-up form on my website (GoDaddy) that links to my account. I like being able to embed newsletters in emails and then track the statistics after each email blast. I use the free version for my practice and have not felt the need to upgrade further yet.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, this is not a complete list of every tool/app I use in practice; however, it does include my main ones. I will be posting another blog to include my counseling/billing resources too!

I am always open to suggestions for tools, so leave a comment and let me know what types of software or applications that you use that have made your business life that much more productive (or simpler).


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Balancing Work & Personal Life

Happy Saturday! This is going to be a bit shorter of a post since I have a ton of cooking to do for Easter tomorrow. I am making about 70% of the menu this year, which I am so happy about, since it was a slow process getting my whole family interested in healthier meals/sides.

The past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to reflect on how one-sided my life felt in terms of balance. I felt like I was always working and just squeezed in time for myself or my family. I still wasn’t working on the things that I had set goals for (like writing an e-book or creating Podcasts) and I really needed to make that change. I had a few family issues this week (all resolved) that made me appreciate the fact that I have a private practice and do have flexibility. I did realize that my time still needed to be adjusted for a more optimal day-to-day routine. So, with that being said, this post brings to you my top 3 tips/lessons for having a more balanced work and personal life.

1. Set (and Keep) Boundaries for Yourself
I am the worst at keeping my boundaries. I will say to myself that Tuesday I am not booking clients so I can work on x-y-z. Then, a client comes along needing an appointment and I say, “Hey, what’s an hour?” The reality is that the 1-hour appointment also includes travel time + prep + post work (billing, report writing, etc) and can really break the concentration I had going for the day. I now schedule in my calendar the days where I don’t see clients and I stick to it. Setting boundaries also means not checking emails or your phone constantly. I no longer answer emails after 8pm, unless it has been a late day for me. I always think to myself that, “It can wait, or they would call.” If not, I end up checking the email, spending the time to respond or react in some way and ultimately it feels like my work day is just dragging on and well into my personal time.

2. Schedule It
Going along with keeping boundaries, use your calendar to schedule when you are doing personal things. I planned out the days I would go to the gym and when I would be gardening. I also set days for office-work for my business and times when I would work on content creation. This could mean seeing clients on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays and also teaching classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It could mean Tuesdays are when I garden and spend time doing personal things. It could mean Fridays are office-work days where I follow-up on billing issues, work on social media, etc. At first I had the thought that my life was so planned it leaves no wiggle room; however, I discovered that by setting aside the time initially, I had more freedom and flexibility.

3. Don’t Overbook Yourself
When I first started my practice full-time, I just wanted to get as many clients scheduled as I possibly could. After realizing that I wasn’t spending time on furthering my practice, I began to cut back on my workload and space it out a bit more. If I overbook, I end up stressed out and really just not at my prime. Not overbooking yourself ties right into keeping the boundaries you set. If I lose a client because I can’t see them in 2 weeks, then so be it. It rarely has happened that someone doesn’t want to wait for an appointment; however, I know for my sanity and stress level that cramming in an appointment isn’t good for me. Usually, those cram-in appointments take the place of the time I wanted to go to the gym or time I wanted to create something. In the long-term, it isn’t worth it. In my last blog post, you can read all about how I have been striving to reform my practice to allow for more flexibility while maintaining income in the long-term.

In the end, the reason I am so busy is due to my own fault in over scheduling and plain overbooking myself. I no longer want to be so busy that I can’t enjoy the things I love like gardening or spending time with my family or cooking. So, my personal commitment is to streamline my business and tasks that go along with it to be able to have the optimal work-life balance for me.

Leave a comment and let me know what your tips/strategies are for keeping your work and personal life in balance.