Leah Silberman MS, RD and Molly Rieger RD are the founders of Tovita Nutrition, a New York City-based, virtual private practice. We sat down with these incredible ladies to hear about their journey in starting a private practice, tips on getting started as an RD, and the valuable role of technology in delivering quality care.
So, how did you decide to become dietitians?
Molly: My journey started with a love for food and cooking. Beginning in high school, I loved cooking for my family and experimenting with new cuisines and flavors. When I realized what a difference healthy food made on my energy levels, confidence, mood, and appearance, I wanted to share the excitement in any way I could. Becoming a dietitian is the perfect career path for me because I spend my days educating clients on a healthy lifestyle and supporting them through the transition.
Leah: For me, the journey started when I was in eighth grade. A friend of mine’s father passed away from an unknown cause. This both puzzled and scared me, so I decided to do a bit of research. I constructed a homemade medical textbook, which included an alphabetized list of common disease definitions, symptoms, causes, and methods of prevention; in retrospect, this was probably a compilation of WebMD printouts. A commonality for prevention of most of these disease states was “eating a healthy diet.” I was instantly fascinated by disease prevention via nutrition.
Can you tell us about Tovita, how and why you started it, and your approach to care?
We were both working in hospital settings prior to launching Tovita. We are fortunate to have had those experiences because they exposed us firsthand to the relationship between health, nutrition, and disease. We saw how poor nutrition over time could ultimately lead to chronic health complications, like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is sometimes difficult for young people to think that far down the line, which got us thinking, “How can we help people from a prevention standpoint?” We wanted to create a way to make nutrition counseling accessible and convenient. Our approach is based around the fact that diet isn’t “one size fits all”. We create individualized meal plans for clients that cater to their unique goals, lifestyle, and challenges.
What is your favorite part about being in private practice?
Private practice allows us to work with clients in a really personal way. We create close relationships with clients and really get to understand what challenges they face day to day as well as what tools work best for them. We’re fortunate that we have the opportunity to work with clients over the course of weeks or months and we’re able to witness their successes, which is the most gratifying part of the job.
What advice do you have for dietitians just getting started in the field?
Don’t get intimidated by what others are doing. Our field has become so saturated, it’s easy to think there is no space for someone new, but you don’t need a new concept or new diet to find your space. Your unique style, personality, and background will resonate with a certain audience or demographic.
Also, stay true to your philosophy and mission. Nutrition is constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep up to date and remain open-minded to new research; however, you don’t need be influenced by or feel compelled to incorporate each fad or trend.
How do you think technology is changing the way dietitians are practicing care?
Technology in telemedicine is making care more accessible and convenient. We are able to reach a wider audience and use different tools to reach various demographics. For example, EHRs like Healthie (www.gethealthie.com) allow us to see what our clients are eating in real time and make comments or suggestions, and social media allows us to share recipes, tips, or knowledge to people across the globe. The care goes much further than what happens in the 30 or 60-minute appointment. We are now able to support clients or followers throughout their day, no matter where they are.
What excites you about using Healthie?
Healthie is allowing us to connect with our clients in a new way. Our clients are excited about the ability to quickly and easily upload pictures and we are able to get a better sense of what they’re eating, rather than writing down estimated portion sizes. On our end, having all of our files in one place has made our company run so much smoother.
We are so excited about having you join the Healthie community and watching your practice grow. Thanks again for sharing about your experiences, Molly and Leah! Learn more about Tovita Nutrition on their website (www.tovitanutrition.com).