A Day in the Life of a Private Practice Dietitian

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Hello THIH readers! After recovering from my “tastes of the wild“, I’m ready to share with you more about what a registered dietitian does. To bring new readers up to speed: I’ve talked about nutrition research and clinical dietetics, as well as quick looks at food service dietetics and community nutrition with SNAP-Ed. Let continue this series, shall we?

Over the past five weeks, I’ve had the fortune to intern with Maryann Meade, a private practice dietitian in Connecticut. As I discussed in my clinical dietetics post, registered dietitians work in many diverse areas. Maryann not only offers nutritional counseling for a variety of nutritional needs, but also consults for home care agencies, day care organizations, drug and alcohol facilities, workplace wellness programs, and more. She is also involved politically, having held several offices in the American Dietetic Association and currently the office of delegate for business and consultation in the House of Delegates of the American Dietetic Association. She has even taught classes at the University of Connecticut! Diversity in dietetics is not just a rumor, kids.

So, what exactly did I do over the past five weeks? A short summary:

Welcome to the waiting room! You have an appointment with Maryann? Please, sit and get comfortable. Maryann will be with you in just a moment.

I observed and participated in many nutritional counseling sessions during my time with Maryann.  We counseled clients with diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, IBS, anemia, kidney stones, disordered eating, lactose intolerance, acid reflux, nutrition support, and more.  We also counseled athletes looking to fuel their performance and individuals who wished to lose weight.  I feel like I’ve seen almost everything over the past several weeks – but I know there’s much more out there.  I have also met many amazing people who are committed to their nutritional health.  Having clients come in and thank us for the help we give them is one of the most rewarding aspects of nutritional counseling – but, not the only one!

Maryann and I also visited some clients in their homes.  These visits are particularly fruitful because home visits give us a chance to observe food practices and cooking facilities in the home – for example, if a client is talking about a particular specialty food, he or she can just pull it out of their cabinet and show it to us.  Nice. I have also helped Maryann give presentations at a children’s nutrition program for which she consults, as well as attended a meeting of certified diabetes educators.

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes as well.  As a nutrition consulting business owner, Maryann establishes and maintains relationships with other health care providers and organizations through marketing and communications.  For example, I developed mad skillz in writing assessment letters to physicians and nurses concerning mutual patients/clients.  I also learned about billing insurance companies, setting up appointments, and arranging referrals.

Hard at work on the computer.  Gotta have a picture of me at the computer for every dietetics-related post.

Dude, where’s my doctor letter??


Establishing, growing, and maintaining your own business is not easy!

Don’t forget: registered dietitians need to eat, too! A lunch beneath the tulips:

A mish-mash of veggies, feta, olives, olive oil, and fresh herbs:

Greek yogurt with raspberries and blueberries:

Veggies? Check.  Healthy fats from olives? Check. Protein in my yogurt? Check  … But, wait, Jessie! This isn’t a balanced meal!

After reviewing these pictures, I realize I had forgotten to add my usual whole grain pasta to my veggies and olives.  No whole grains in this meal.  Oops. I guess even soon-to-be-RDs make mistakes 🙂 Not every meal is going to be balanced, but that’s ok!

Hanging out with Maryann in her office:

Thanks, Maryann! I had a wonderful time over the past five weeks! 😀

If you have any questions about private practice dietetics, please feel free to contact me.

Future plans: Next week, I’m very excited to be working with Marci Anderson, the owner of Marci RD Nutrition Consulting in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. Marci is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer who specializes in eating disorders, body image, emotional eating, and more.  Stay tuned!

P.S. The cherry trees are blooming in New Haven!  Check it:

Have a great Easter weekend, everyone!

Q: What aspect of dietetics do you find the most interesting so far?


Have you ever seen a cherry tree in bloom?  Gorgeous!


  1. I never got the opprtunity to shadow an RD in private practice. It sounds like such a great learning experience. It seems like there would never be a dull moment since your patients vary so much.

  2. Love this series! Like Kristen mentioned, I think the variety of patients in a private setting sounds fascinating. Seems like you wouldn’t get bored easily… At the same time, I’m sure all the advertising, networking, insurance billing, etc. would keep you very busy…

    Can’t wait to read about your next internship adventures! 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Nick and I have noticed that since we moved in our house, we are noticing more flowers in people’s front yards…and yes, they are all so gorgeous!! And the cherry trees are amazing (well, we have trees that look VERY similar!!).

    I think it would be so fun to have my own practice one day, and that’s my ultimate goal in life (that or a restaurant!). Thanks for giving me a glance into the life of a private practice RD!

    Happy Easter Jessie 🙂

  4. Hey Jessie!!
    This is very interesting, I have never heard of a private practice dietitian, but it looks very relaxing and sure the counselling will be easier for patients 🙂 I hope your next stop with Marci goes well too!! Harvard square is a lovely place , you will definitely enjoy it!

    Have a wonderful spring!

  5. Hi Jessie! Great post — girl, I missed you and your blog so much on vacation! I loved the inside glimpse into a day in your life…and I’m super excited for your next opportunity with Marci! Love the cherry tree pictures…just gorgeous!

  6. If I were going to be an RD, I think I’d go into private practice…it seems like you see so many and varied things! I’m wondering now if I should see a nutritionist before I start training for my next marathon…perhaps there’s some nutritional deficiency that’s causing all of these muscle aches and pains!

    I’m so jealous that you’re going to be spending so much time in Harvard Square! Love Boston!

  7. I find everything about dietetics interesting and love that you educate us on so many aspects.

    But honestly, I was fixated by the beautiful cherry trees! I am so jealous you have such gorgeous seasons on the east coast. It makes me want to move out of LA all that much more!

    And once again Jessie…you are SO pretty!

  8. Gosh, Jessie! Love this kind of writing – so interesting. Cannot believe you are starting your own business straight out of school. That is super gutsy. Scary, even. At least, for me it would be. I can see you are surrounding yourself with lots of strong and positive support. Can’t wait to read more soon!
    I am truly, honestly, so sorry and so sad that I have missed reading your posts over the last two months. I would see them come into my e-mail, and delete them – with a heavy heart, daily. I didn’t at first, but it became apparent I could never catch up. I am thrilled to be participating in the planning of an important local slow food conference in our area which has taken up way more time than I ever imagined it would. Important work, but I really miss the relationships I have developed through blogging and know there will be a hole from what I have missed these past two months. I have published only three posts since February, so I am eager to cook, entertain, read, and write. Happy Easter and Spring to you!

    1. Hi Valerie! I’m actually not starting my own business – at least, not yet! I still have a lot to learn before taking that leap 🙂 Don’t worry about not being able to read these posts! I know you’re very busy, and there’s no obligation to read 🙂 I’m so glad you’re enjoying your work with the slow food conference – I enjoy reading about your experiences and living vicariously through you!

      Take care!

  9. Hi Jessie! Look at that comfy waiting room! It looks like a lot of fun to be a dietician but I also wonder sometimes, do you ever feel like patients judge you based on your appearance because you ARE a dietitician? Do you feel pressure to have to look a certain way? Just curious!! I feel that way because I’m in dental school and I feel really self-conscious about my teeth. Just wondering if it goes across all professions! 😛

    P.s. I live in Boston!! You’ll probably love Cambridge but make sure to explore away girl! You’ll ahve such a blast!!

  10. Have you ever been to DC in April? Freaking gorgeous cherry blossoms. 🙂
    I really don’t know much about RDs…I’ve never visited one, and always assumed they were mostly private practice. It certainly sounds like a lot of work and instability, but rewarding, as you said!

  11. Great post! Glad you had a nice rotation. I am sure you will enjoy your next one too. I have never seen the cherry blossoms, but I will in Japan because they have a huge cherry blossom festival near the base where we are moving.

  12. Jessie…the capture that got most of my attention were those cherry blossoms and of course your Hubby looking so angelic ;o) Btw…the color red really suits you.

    Your daily ritual looks so enveloping…and quite honestly, I truly believe you’ve picked the right avenue. Just don’t forget to keep eat well ;o)

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,

  13. Oh wow, I could never do this…I forget the main ingredient in my recipes half the time 😉 Those blossoms are so gorgeous…Spring 🙂

  14. Helllooooooo Jessie!

    Sorry I’m so late, but after Vancouver, I’ve been in kind of a blogging slump. I’m just trying to pull myself out of it right now. Visiting you never feels like blogging though. It always feels like catching up on a friend’s life and seeing what she’s been up to. Looks like Maryann has kept you busy these past 5 weeks. Yes, bill those insurance companies. Send them big nasty bills. Haha. Yup, that’s evil LeeQs talking. I think it’s great that Maryann visits clients in their homes. Kind of brings things up to a bit more of a personal relationship. Plus like you said, you get to see a quick glimpse of the food practices and cooking facilities. Being able to see the foods clients eat must really help evaluate things. I’m so glad to see you enjoying all these internship experiences, Jessie! I can tell you’re absorbing so much and trying to make the most out of every experience you have. Keep up the great work! Anyone would be lucky to have you as their intern.

    I LOVE cherry blossoms! We don’t have many here, but when we went to Vancouver I was able to get a few good shots in. I love that last shot of you, looking beautiful as always. Best of luck with your next internship. Can’t wait to hear about it. Take care my dear. Stalk ya later 😉


  15. This sounds really neat! I would love to be able to see a mixture of everything, and to be able to develop relationships like that with clients. I hope the time in private practice and your upcoming rotations give you more clarity about what you want to do in the future!

    How long are you going to be in Cambridge?! It’s beautiful there…and close to me! 🙂

    And those cherry blossoms are gorgeous!

  16. I only wish I had had an opportunity like that in my internship. If I could have her job, I would scoop it up in a heartbeat!!

  17. I am doing a project for school on private practice dietitans. I was hoping someone could answer some questions I have..
    Are there any benifits to private practice? What do you like about it?
    Anything else I could know that may be helpful for my project?

  18. Hi Jessie!

    I am a new APD (Australian equivalent of RD) and going to enter the private practice soon. Just preparing for an interview and came across your site. 🙂 Can you let me know why you chose private practice over other fields??

  19. Nancy/Nazzy says:

    Mine was the last post. Also thought I should let you know about my blog too. http://eatpraygrow.wordpress.com/ Please visit and let me know what you think! :)Love from Australia. xx

  20. Christine says:

    Hello! I am enjoying reading these posts as I too am interested in having a dietetics career, and think I would like to have my own business as well. What do you recommend NEEDING to know or do in particular to start a business? Are you happy with your decision of starting your own business? How is it working out for you financially? Thank you for any feedback 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Christine! At this point, I don’t actually have my own business (I haven’t ruled it out for the future, though!). If owning your own business is something in which you are interested, I would recommend talking to people who own their own businesses in your field of interest (including dietetics, if that’s where you ultimately decide to pursue). The best step is to find a mentor who will help you over the bumpy parts – he or she has seen it all before!

      Good luck!

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