While I was a graduate student, I taught discussion sections of introductory nutrition courses to undergraduates. I had plenty of uninterested seniors who simply wanted to get three credits on their transcripts, misinformed sophomores following extreme fad diets and students with eating disorders. But my favorite students were those who aspired to become registered dietitians and other medical professionals with an understanding of nutrition.
One day we were discussing the various roles dietitians can play in the health of a society. We discussed how cultures impact dietary behaviors, we spoke about the importance of food availability on dietary intake and we talked about how we can influence people. During this time, a student shared that her motivation and interest in nutrition stemmed from a desire to prevent people from getting sick rather than treating them after they had become sick. I took that moment to encourage her to remember her statement of purpose.
After years of studying — and, I am sure, during decades of practicing — people can become distracted from their purpose. Sometimes, we need to think back and remember why we wanted to be here in the first place. Then, we can go forward with the unblemished optimism that we can make that change, that we can be that change and that we can inspire others to become that change as well. Being constantly distracted by salary, job availability, fears of "what if" and countless other worries can dilute and distort your focus.
So today, I offer you a challenge. Write a mission statement including what you would like to accomplish in your career. I'll share mine: "Utilize cultural beliefs, behaviors and best dietetic practices to increase the wellness of communities and empowerment of individuals through nutrition education and outreach."
In short, I ask you to answer the same question I asked my student that day: "Why do you want to become a dietitian?"
Now, go do it!