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Stuck deciding on a career. Nursing or Dietician

Hello, first time posting here.

I’ve been considering changing my major from nutrition & dietetics to nursing. My original goal was to become a Registered Dietician but in my last semester at my CC. I started to take an interest in nursing. The prerequisites for nutrition & nursing majors are the same & taking classes with many nursing students opened my eyes & interest for nursing. Now I graduated with an AS-T in nutrition & dietetics & transferred to a really good university here in Ca but I’m really considering switching majors & apply to ADN nursing schools. Also learning that in order to become a Registered Dietician a masters will be required in 2024 & the unpaid ~1 yr internship really discouraged me. I’ve also been reading that the pay & job opportunities for Registered Dietician is not that good. If I’m investing so much time & money in a career, I want a good investment back. Any advice from current RNs & RDs is truly appreciate. Thank you!

I'm under the impression that the job opportunities in CA for new grad nurses aren't that great either...but I don't live there so I'm sure somebody else will chime in.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

14 hours ago, Thesky_isthe_limit said:

Hello, first time posting here.

I’ve been considering changing my major from nutrition & dietetics to nursing. My original goal was to become a Registered Dietician but in my last semester at my CC. I started to take an interest in nursing. The prerequisites for nutrition & nursing majors are the same & taking classes with many nursing students opened my eyes & interest for nursing. Now I graduated with an AS-T in nutrition & dietetics & transferred to a really good university here in Ca but I’m really considering switching majors & apply to ADN nursing schools. Also learning that in order to become a Registered Dietician a masters will be required in 2024 & the unpaid ~1 yr internship really discouraged me. I’ve also been reading that the pay & job opportunities for Registered Dietician is not that good. If I’m investing so much time & money in a career, I want a good investment back. Any advice from current RNs & RDs is truly appreciate. Thank you!

You will hear from mostly nurses on this site, as it's a site for nurses. I know very little about dietitians.

Nursing would seem to have more range, but I can't be sure. Have you looked at any nursing programs in your area? They can be extremely competitive, which is something else to consider. It's not always as easy as "deciding" to switch.

Undercat, BSN, MSN, CRNA

Has 41 years experience. Specializes in Retired.

Does anyone get hired any more in Ca. without a BSN?

EDNURSE20, BSN

Has 3 years experience. Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op.

If you spend enough time on the this website, you will nursing is a tough career choice. Many student don’t realise the bulls**t you go threw until they graduate. So hearing from Just nursing students, ofcourse theyll have nothing but good things to stay about the job.

if your main reason for changing to nursing is money, then def don’t do it. You Won’t be happy, and chance are you’ll be wanting to change career in a couple of years.

while money is important, having a job you actually enjoy is more important. You are lucky enough to go to school and choose your career, don’t waste your time/money on something that won’t satisfy you.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

4 hours ago, Undercat said:

Does anyone get hired any more in Ca. without a BSN?

Yes. I moved to California with two years of experience and an ASN. I've been hired on the spot for the two jobs I applied and interviewed for. A third application I put out also resulted in a call, but I chose not to pursue it.

For context, I work in small hospitals on med/surg and behavioral health units, which is exactly what I want to do. A new graduate interested in a competitive specialty, or a specific employer, would probably be much better off with a BSN.

35 year nurse. Dietician hands down. I have a couple of them as friends and they really enjoy their jobs. And I would really advocate to look for a federal job. I retired from Indian Health Service and the dieticians loved their jobs there and found them very interesting and challenging. For instance, DM is 3x more prevalent in the Native American population than Caucasians. This is because they used to be more agrarian and hunter/gatherers and now we have fast food. Their genetics has not caught up with their lifestyle changes. I find that fascinating. I personally would not advocate for anyone to go into nursing. There are so many opportunities and career choices that won’t ruin you physically, emotionally, spiritually.

So I went through my undergrad for nutrition and did my internship. I did a distance internship, which could have played a huge part in my outlook, but here is why I switched to nursing:

1. The internship I did offered very little support compared to the amount of work they required. I had about 3X the workload that my friends in a traditional DI had.

2. Throughout undergrad I worked at several different dietetics-based jobs. Hospitals, long term care facilities, cafeterias... at every single place, the dietitians there seemed like they were competitors rather than coworkers. It was a very strange environment. (I’ll add that I was a non traditional student with prior experience in the workforce).

3. I researched different dietitian jobs in my area. Most were 6 days a week, and the pay wasn’t that great for requiring a masters degree. Or the opposite, occasionally the only available jobs were PRN (I have about 5 major hospitals within 40 minutes of me and many small ones).

I went into nursing school with the intention of still working in diabetes education, but with better hours (3 12 hour shifts!!). Now I’m a semester in and have considered several different specialties I might want to work in.

I guess my point is that nurses have so many more options than dietitians. Travel options, scheduling, more work from home, more specialties.

I love nursing. My FQHC also has a dietician and she’s wonderful and I think she also loves her job. Hers is slower-paced than the nurses. She has a lot of time to spend with her clients. Also, she teaches a LOT of classes, which usually have about 8 people at a time. The nurses generally don’t do that, so it’s something to consider if you’d enjoy that or not.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

All I can tell you is.. nursing is brutal work. I had no idea that R.D. took so much effort. I can tell you I was jealous of the dietician.

Good luck with your decision.

I want to thank everyone of you who took the time to reply to my post. Thank you for all for the input & advice!

Edited by Thesky_isthe_limit

On 8/19/2020 at 4:06 PM, Nutrition2Nurse said:

So I went through my undergrad for nutrition and did my internship. I did a distance internship, which could have played a huge part in my outlook, but here is why I switched to nursing:

1. The internship I did offered very little support compared to the amount of work they required. I had about 3X the workload that my friends in a traditional DI had.

2. Throughout undergrad I worked at several different dietetics-based jobs. Hospitals, long term care facilities, cafeterias... at every single place, the dietitians there seemed like they were competitors rather than coworkers. It was a very strange environment. (I’ll add that I was a non traditional student with prior experience in the workforce).

3. I researched different dietitian jobs in my area. Most were 6 days a week, and the pay wasn’t that great for requiring a masters degree. Or the opposite, occasionally the only available jobs were PRN (I have about 5 major hospitals within 40 minutes of me and many small ones).

I went into nursing school with the intention of still working in diabetes education, but with better hours (3 12 hour shifts!!). Now I’m a semester in and have considered several different specialties I might want to work in.

I guess my point is that nurses have so many more options than dietitians. Travel options, scheduling, more work from home, more specialties.

Hello Nutrituon2Nurse,

Thank you very much for your input! If you don't mind I do have alot of questions I would like to ask you. Based on all the schooling required to become an RD (bachelors, 50% chance on getting into the DI, the year long unpaid DI & now the masters) do you now think that becoming an RD is a good investment? If you had to do it all over, would you? I’ve heard that they don't get paid well & not much opportunities are present. I’m a single mom of 2 & I don’t have that $$ to be throwing around for a degree thats not gonna have a good investment back. At my univ, they try to encourage more ppl to go into this profession & keep them hopeful but honestly when I look up on Indeed for any job postings. There’s not much & have crazy requirements & little pay.

On 8/22/2020 at 6:12 PM, Thesky_isthe_limit said:

Hello Nutrituon2Nurse,

Thank you very much for your input! If you don't mind I do have alot of questions I would like to ask you. Based on all the schooling required to become an RD (bachelors, 50% chance on getting into the DI, the year long unpaid DI & now the masters) do you now think that becoming an RD is a good investment? If you had to do it all over, would you? I’ve heard that they don't get paid well & not much opportunities are present. I’m a single mom of 2 & I don’t have that $$ to be throwing around for a degree thats not gonna have a good investment back. At my univ, they try to encourage more ppl to go into this profession & keep them hopeful but honestly when I look up on Indeed for any job postings. There’s not much & have crazy requirements & little pay.

In my opinion, the investment to become an RD is not worth it. I spent roughly $100k on both degrees and my internship. I live in a decent sized metro in Arkansas and the majority of the RD jobs start out at around $48k. In my case, where my spouse is the primary earner, that’s fine, I can pay off my school loans in two-ish years. In your case, the salary vs cost of education probably wouldn’t be worth it.

You also need to factor in the length of whatever internship you choose. That will be 1-2 years of unpaid work. Most internships will tell you not to work while interning.

There isn’t a whole lot of room for advancement for clinical RD’s. I believe there is more room for advancement with community health, but the starting pay is usually a bit lower and there is typically travel required. Clinical research tends to pay better but in my experience, it’s kind of hard to break into that field. The amount of online jobs available to RD’s is very small compared to RN jobs.

I will say that in my original comment, when I said that dietitians tend to act like they are competing rather than working as a team. That comment mostly applies to the dietitians I worked with under the age of 45, the older dietitians seemed more comfortable and willing to help/teach the younger ones.

My final advice I guess is just weigh your pros and cons. You might not even get accepted into an internship for several years after graduating. Internships tend to choose applicants that were heavily involved in extra-curricular dietetic activities, volunteering and working dietetics-related jobs. As a single mom, that would be harder for you than a traditional student, so keep in mind that that will automatically lower your chances of getting accepted. It’s very competitive and very difficult for non-traditional students. Good luck!

On 8/24/2020 at 12:03 PM, Nutrition2Nurse said:

In my opinion, the investment to become an RD is not worth it. I spent roughly $100k on both degrees and my internship. I live in a decent sized metro in Arkansas and the majority of the RD jobs start out at around $48k. In my case, where my spouse is the primary earner, that’s fine, I can pay off my school loans in two-ish years. In your case, the salary vs cost of education probably wouldn’t be worth it.

You also need to factor in the length of whatever internship you choose. That will be 1-2 years of unpaid work. Most internships will tell you not to work while interning.

There isn’t a whole lot of room for advancement for clinical RD’s. I believe there is more room for advancement with community health, but the starting pay is usually a bit lower and there is typically travel required. Clinical research tends to pay better but in my experience, it’s kind of hard to break into that field. The amount of online jobs available to RD’s is very small compared to RN jobs.

I will say that in my original comment, when I said that dietitians tend to act like they are competing rather than working as a team. That comment mostly applies to the dietitians I worked with under the age of 45, the older dietitians seemed more comfortable and willing to help/teach the younger ones.

My final advice I guess is just weigh your pros and cons. You might not even get accepted into an internship for several years after graduating. Internships tend to choose applicants that were heavily involved in extra-curricular dietetic activities, volunteering and working dietetics-related jobs. As a single mom, that would be harder for you than a traditional student, so keep in mind that that will automatically lower your chances of getting accepted. It’s very competitive and very difficult for non-traditional students. Good luck!

Thank you for your response although I am not the OP, it’s good to hear from a actual dietician. To the OP, I had written in a previous post that I would not recommend nursing but maybe a role like Diabetes Educator would be the best of both worlds?

On 8/24/2020 at 12:03 PM, Nutrition2Nurse said:

In my opinion, the investment to become an RD is not worth it. I spent roughly $100k on both degrees and my internship. I live in a decent sized metro in Arkansas and the majority of the RD jobs start out at around $48k. In my case, where my spouse is the primary earner, that’s fine, I can pay off my school loans in two-ish years. In your case, the salary vs cost of education probably wouldn’t be worth it.

You also need to factor in the length of whatever internship you choose. That will be 1-2 years of unpaid work. Most internships will tell you not to work while interning.

There isn’t a whole lot of room for advancement for clinical RD’s. I believe there is more room for advancement with community health, but the starting pay is usually a bit lower and there is typically travel required. Clinical research tends to pay better but in my experience, it’s kind of hard to break into that field. The amount of online jobs available to RD’s is very small compared to RN jobs.

I will say that in my original comment, when I said that dietitians tend to act like they are competing rather than working as a team. That comment mostly applies to the dietitians I worked with under the age of 45, the older dietitians seemed more comfortable and willing to help/teach the younger ones.

My final advice I guess is just weigh your pros and cons. You might not even get accepted into an internship for several years after graduating. Internships tend to choose applicants that were heavily involved in extra-curricular dietetic activities, volunteering and working dietetics-related jobs. As a single mom, that would be harder for you than a traditional student, so keep in mind that that will automatically lower your chances of getting accepted. It’s very competitive and very difficult for non-traditional students. Good luck!

Woowww! Thank you sooo freaken much!! I re-evaluated my reality & future goals & with all this info & experience that you provided, I made my final decision. I’m pursuing Nursing, thank you very much for your honesty and reality towards this profession. I really appreciate you! God bless you & wish you the best in your journey<3

On 8/24/2020 at 11:08 AM, jobellestarr said:

Thank you for your response although I am not the OP, it’s good to hear from a actual dietician. To the OP, I had written in a previous post that I would not recommend nursing but maybe a role like Diabetes Educator would be the best of both worlds?

Hello jobellestarr,

Thank you for your time replying to my post. Yes! It’s really good hearing from a actual dietician bc it gives us an insight of how the profession really is. All the dieticians at my university keep sugar coating it and encourage students to pursue this profession but I wanted the truth. So Nutrition2Nurse’s post really was helpful. Diabetes Educator does sound like the best of both worlds. Thank you!

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