Today we are excited about introducing the Healthie community to Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD. Jennifer is the founder of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, New York, and the author of “Pursuing Private Practice: 10 Steps to Grow Your Own Business.” Jennifer is an incredible RD who is equally passionate about helping dietitians establish private practices, and today she shares with us some of her tips on expanding your business.
Healthie: Why did you decide to become a dietitian?
I’m lucky I’ve known that I wanted to do something in health and nutrition since the beginning of college. I took my first nutrition class, Nutrition 101, during my first semester in college. From then on out, it was my major!
Healthie: As you look back on your career to date, what are some of your most memorable moments?
Every credential that I’ve added onto my name has been another milestone in my career. First it was getting my credentials as an RD, then adding onto that my CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) because it meant I specialized in Diabetes, and then most recently my CEDRD (Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian).
In addition, I’m proud that I’ve been able to start a practice and write books that truly help people. Doing something that I really enjoy doing and making a good living for myself is something that I’m proud of.
Healthie: What do you like the most about your job?
I love that nutritional care goes far beyond food and life sciences, and includes a tremendous mental component too. Part of our everyday job is helping clients go through behavior and psychological changes that have great impacts on their overall lives.
Healthie: What factors do you think helped your practice grow?
Empathy, especially when treating eating disorders, is key. If you can communicate with someone, make a connection, and get to know them on a personal and therapeutic level, you will build a practice faster and better.
Passion, because it makes that emphatic connection very authentic. I think it’s incredibly important for dietitians to identify and specialize in the disease states that they are most excited about.
Healthie: How do you use technology and social media in your dietetic practice?
Blogging and social media are completely overhauling traditional therapy. Now, dietitians need to be on social media, online, and virtual, in addition to in doctors’ offices.
EHRs (electronic health records, like Healthie) will undoubtedly make your life easier when you’re in private practice. This is especially true with documentation and insurance. Honestly, if you don’t have a great organizational system, you are going to crash and burn. It will take a lot of energy to keep the practice going, so make sure to have technology there to help you.
Healthie: Why did you write your books (Pursuing Private Practice: 10 Steps to Grow Your Own Business and Pursuing Private Practice: 10 Steps to Start Your Own Business)?
I wanted to build a resource that made it easier for dietitians to move forth in their private practice aspirations. I realized that when I was starting out, there were so many areas where I went wrong, and I wanted to make sure that others could learn from the trial and error that I went through. The books are really meant to be resources to help dietitians grow their practices.
Healthie: What advice do you have for dietitians who are just getting started?
Pick your niche – it’s impossible to specialize in everything. If you say you specialize in everything, it’s just not true.
Also, find the community of people who will give you referrals, like doctors, trainers, or clinics, and build close relationships with them.