A Shift in Direction

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 | Posted under Diabetes, School

changing-trajectoryAlthough I haven’t blogged about it much, not getting into nursing school really hit me hard and shook my confidence. As it turns out, my final grade in Anatomy & Physiology 2 and Microbiology were not even high enough to get me into my first choice school, which I was on the wait-list at. The second school, NYU, flat out rejected me.

I had written and told many people that I knew that getting in was difficult, and that I wouldn’t surprised if I was rejected. And to be honest, I wasn’t surprised. But my feelings were still hurt. That’s just how rejection works.

After I found out I wouldn’t be going to nursing school this fall, I had to think about what my game plan would be. I planned to re-take the classes that I needed (I retook A&P 2 and raised my grade from a C to a B+!), plus my two remaining classes, Intro to Nutrition and Developmental Psychology of the Lifespan. I would also work, do freelance writing and keep working on my book (which I’m still working on and which should still be finished next spring).

What I started thinking about though was switching gears entirely. Not abandoning my plan to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. Heavens no. Come hell or high water, I will be a CDE. Eventually. But a comment from my dear friend Hannah about pursuing becoming a Registered Dietitian made me reconsider a few things.

I initially didn’t want to do the RD route because it takes longer. Plain and simple. It’ll be about 3 years, as opposed to the 18 months to complete a BSN and become an RN. There are no accelerated dietetic programs, and so I would have to do what everyone else does. The timeline wasn’t appealing, but there were also some benefits that I could see. For example, I’ve been reading more and more healthy lifestyle bloggers, and many of them are RDs. Several of them have their own practices and consulting businesses. Being an entrepreneur is something I’ve always enjoyed. There are also more ways to do dietetics in the real world than nursing. Nurses have to work in a clinic or hospital, whereas RDs have the freedom to work independently or in a group practice. I also felt that dietetics might give me more applicable experience in regards to diabetes, as opposed to general nursing. Not that nurses don’t work with people with diabetes all the time, and not that dietetics work with people with diabetes all the time either, but there seemed like stronger connection.

I’ve also been really interested lately with nutrition and exercise. I’ve been on my own path of weight loss and healthy eating, and I feel like I’m gaining a lot of knowledge while also experiencing firsthand how confusing and misleading a lot of this can be, especially in terms of diabetes. Personally, I’ve learned that I have to be really passionate about something in order to do a good job at it. Otherwise, I sort of half-ass it. The idea of having my career be so connected to the things I’m interested in (diabetes, food and exercise) is really appealing to me.

I started investigating what my options are, and I found that locally, there are several programs that would lead me to become an RD. There are two Master’s programs, one at Columbia and one at NYU, and two Bachelor’s programs, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn. I visited two schools, Queens College and Columbia University, and I was very impressed by Columbia. The student adviser there was extremely nice and answered all of my questions. She made me feel confident that I would be a great fit at the school and that being an RD was a good choice. She was also very happy to hear that I have a background in journalism, because so much of what an RD does these days is work with the public and the media, so having good communications skills is critical. However, the Master’s at Columbia is much more expensive than getting a second Bachelor’s at Queens College, so Erik and I had to do a lot of hard thinking.

After discussing the pros and cons, I’ve decided to pursue the Master’s degree at Columbia, which would allow me to start as early as January of next year. In addition, they have the required internship program integrated into their Master’s. While it’s not a guarantee that I’ll get an internship through Columbia, the odds are about 95%, compared to the 50% at the other schools. Huge difference!

I still have a few pre-requisite courses to finish, so I’ll be doing that this summer and fall. If I don’t get in at Columbia, that still leaves time and opportunity to apply to NYU and Queens College for their programs. Next Monday, I’ll start an online, self-paced course through UC Berkeley in Biochemistry. This fall, I’ll go back to my local community college to take Intro to Organic Chemistry, Intro to Nutrition, and one of the food services classes. There are two food service classes that are required for the RD but not for Columbia. I’m taking one now so that I will be a full-time student and qualify for financial aid.

I’m actually really excited about pursuing dietetics. I’m a bit hesitant about a couple things, which I’ll be blogging about later. It’s still hard to say that this is definitely “God’s path” for me, because I still haven’t been accepted into a program yet, but I feel a lot happier and confident about this direction. I hope that’s a good sign!


Comments on this post

  1. Akirah says:

    It’s crazy what pops up when doors close for us. I will be praying for clarity for you in these next few months. I am really happy you feel good about these new possibilities!

    1. GingerVieira says:

      Congrats on adapting and shifting your plan, Allison! You’ll make an awesome RD or CDE — both being crucial aspects of the support system that PWDs rely on after diagnosis. Hopefully, someday, whomever hires you will realize that you’re more than just an RD or more than just a CDE and they’ll position you so you can make the most out of your personal background with diabetes.

      1. Hannah McD says:

        I think you are on the path to finding your career passion, and that’s an amazing and admirable thing. Glad I made a suggestion. <3

        I am hoping for the very best for you!

        1. Stephany says:

          Wishing you the best on this new journey! It’s hard to figure out just exactly what God has planned for our lives — and to follow what He wants, which isn’t always easy. I think this is a path that you’re passionate about and can help a lot of people with. Crossing my fingers for Columbia! :)

          1. Kathleen says:

            Cool! Although I love nursing, I also feel like RD has a stronger connection to where you want to end up. Good luck!

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