Welcome back to our Series on How to Become a Private Practice Dietitian. This is a 5-part series on how to help you create the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams. At the end of this blog series, you will have the tools that you need to start your own private practice.
If you have not read How to Become a Private Practice Dietitian Series: Step 1: Realize Your Potential blog post, you may want to do that before moving forward with this next step. As a reminder, you have all you need in terms of clinical skills with your Registered Dietitian credential in dietetics, now it is important to take your unique skills and interests to fine tune them to dive deep into one specific niche in dietetics.
Let’s start from the beginning, you may have been attracted to the entire field of dietetics when you were a college student. You may even say now that you are interested in many areas of dietetics. When you are first starting out in private practice, the thought of turning away any business is challenging. You may be reluctant to turn away business at first and to limit your opportunities. Although this may seem logical at first glance, it is actually not the best way to build a practice.
No Niche is NO GOOD. It is important to find an area of dietetics that you are passionate about and become an expert in that area is key to private practice success. Read more about finding your niche in dietetics.
Find Your Niche
Specializing in one area of dietetics will help you provide the best, most current interventions to you client to foster trust, respect and results. You may be tempted to add every potential client to your calendar as you build your practice, but it may be much wiser to narrow your scope and define your expertise. Think about it this way, if you have a broken leg, who would you go to to have surgery or a cast? I am sure that most doctors would be able to take care of you, but it makes more sense for you to go do a specialist who fixes broken legs regularly. So, the same goes for dietitians, it makes more sense for someone who has PCOS to see at dietitian who works with PCOS.
So how do you find your niche in dietetics?
Oftentimes, it comes down to either what excites you personally or professionally or what you may have had personal experience with. It is also natural that your niche may evolve over time. For instance, I was drawn to the field of dietetics because I love to help people and I have always been interested in medicine. My home growing up was also very diet focused with my mom often on a diet or commenting on someone’s size. As a young dietitian, I became a dieting expert and saw lots of clients who wanted to lose weight. After awhile, I became aware of the darker size of dieting, disordered eating and eating disorders. Eventually, I realized that my true passion was helping clients avoid and heal from dieting, disordered eating and eating disorders. That is when I developed my niche of being an eating disorder dietitian expert. It may be useful for you to walk through these exercises to help you find tune your niche in dietetics.
Steps to Find Your Niche in Dietetics
By serving others as a Registered Dietitian you are making a lasting effect on them and transforming lives. You owe it to your clients and to yourself to deliver high-quality information and produce results. You are helping your clients reach their ultimate goals and you need to convey your passion confidently by working with clients who energize you and to whom you can relate. It is even more important now than ever that Registered Dietitians are seeing clients who are a good fit.
Why? Because nutrition information is everywhere—in magazines, online, posted on Facebook, on food labels… you name it. You must show your value by providing even better evidenced-based nutrition facts with a compassionate emphasis. This will individualize your recommendations much more than any handout, book, or article ever could do. Therefore, as a private practice Registered Dietitian, you need to develop areas of expertise to grow your practice with successful clients so you can deliver exceptional results and provide peace of mind in your personal life. This will strengthen both our profession and your business.
By having a distinct specialty, when potential clients call your office they can confidently choose you knowing that your practice is the best fit for the job and that they will see results. If you are not best suited to meet the client’s needs, you can cross-refer with other Registered Dietitians in your area (local dietetic practice group!) until you are able to hire Registered Dietitians of other specialties to eventually work for you. For example, we refer out for children under two years of age.
Find the Clients that Energize You
To determine which clients you can best serve, begin by taking a look at yourself to determine where your nutrition and self-care priorities align.
You may find that your ideal clients are very similar to you.
For example, consider The Registered Dietitian who focuses on…
• sports nutrition and who actively runs marathons and helps athletes fuel their performance.
• pediatric nutrition and who has a family and helps parents create a healthy relationship with food for their children.
• Binge Eating Disorder and emotional eating and who helps others REBEL against diets.
Now turn this to yourself.
What do you typically like to read or do during downtime? • Reading blogs about self care? • Browsing cookbooks and finding new recipes? • Going to farmer’s markets? • Traveling around the country? • Bringing your kids into the kitchen? • Gardening in your backyard?
Steps to Create Your Niche in Dietetics
To do this, it is important “to be awesome at something” (meaning your niche). In order to get awesome in your niche make sure to:
- get adequate training in your speciality
- talk to other dietitians in your niche
- make sure that you network with other professionals who are in the same specialty
- figure out where your ideal client is on social media and develop a presence on that platform (instagram, Pinterest, facebook, twitter, etc)
- develop marketing materials that focus on your speciality
- create tools to help counsel your clients effectively
Dive deep into your specialty to become an expert for instance:
For instance, here is how you can put together the pieces of your expertise if you are an eating disorder dietitian. Here is what we did to create an empowered eating program.
Make sure that you do the some of thefollowing:
- Join national eating disorder awareness and recovery organizations such as
- National Eating Disorder Association NEDA
- Become active in the eating disorder recovery movement among dietitians
- Look into additional training for eating disorder excellence
- Certified Eating Disorder Dietitian through the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals
- Jessica Setnick Eating Disorders Bootcamp
- Connect with therapists who specialize in eating disorders
- Read as much as you can so you know what resources are available
- Create teams, resources, and awareness for the eating disorder population
- Develop excellent resources making sure all messaging is HAES, non-dieting appropriate
- Make sure to get professional supervision to provide the best care for your clients
- Know which higher level of care and treatment centers are available and the pros and cons of each
- Continually sharpen your saw and get better and better at your speciality
- Utilize cutting edge technology to help your clients recover
- Create your own collection of favorite resources
- Develop a podcast
You can take these same principles and apply them to you own specialization to provide the best care possible. Think about everything that your client will need to receive the best care and make sure that you are fully equipped to support your client at every stage of intervention with you.
Reach out to us for individualized recommendations on how to set up your niche.
For more information on our popular Welcome to the Rebelution: 7 Steps to Creating the Nutrition Counseling Practice of Your Dreams. If you are still in the dreaming about private practice stage, we recommend working through this stepwise workbook to help you gain insight, motivation, focus and skills before you take the plunge into private practice. Take a look here.
Fill out the contact form below to request a free discovery call to find out if you are a good fit for our business coaching. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you create the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams.
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Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients. Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.