We are excited to introduce ya’ll to Miho Hatanaka, a recent graduate of Syracuse University’s dietetic program and one of the newest members of the Healthie (and RD) community! We talked to Miho about her recent experiences as a dietetic intern, how she hopes to increase access to nutritional counseling throughout her career!
Why did you decide to become a dietitian?
I’ve wanted to be a registered dietitian since I was 11 years old. When I moved to United States from Japan, I was shocked by American food culture. At my elementary school in Japan, there was a full-time RD planning monthly lunch menus and providing nutrition education for the students. She planned balanced, nutritious meals for the students, and I still remember how I used to check the lunch menu first thing in the morning when I got to school! After I came to the U.S., I missed my school lunch in Japan so much. After I learned the rising rate of obesity and many chronic diseases are caused by poor diet, nutrition became my passion and I really wanted to change how children eat in America.
Why do you think now’s a great time to be a dietitian?
It’s definitely a great time for dietitians! We are becoming more recognized, and people are seeking out RDs for nutrition counseling. People are becoming more aware of the connection between diet and disease and are looking for healthier alternatives; since many businesses view that “educated customers are the best customers,” RDs can educate the community to make better choices for themselves.
There are so many people who don’t have access to healthy food – how do you think the RD community can come together to increase access?
I think RDs communicating with each other and informing the community about healthy diet is the most effective way to increase access. There are resources out there to help people, but not many people have the time and patience to look for them. I believe that’s when an RD can come to help – not only we can provide proper nutrition education, but also we have great resources and ability to connect people. Nowadays, RDs work in many different fields such as supermarkets, government, non-profit organizations; utilize them as your resources by networking and connecting with them!
How do you think technology is changing the way dietitians can practice care?
We live in an age of technology; it can connect people from anywhere, anytime. As many of us are becoming comfortable using technology in the medical field, we can definitely use them in our own practice! I see that often people procrastinate to see a dietitian because they don’t know how to find them or they find a quick answer on search engines. If we can have a bigger presence online, I think it will help us become more recognized and patients will be more inclined to use our service. There are so many diverse communities on the web, I think it’s a great way to promote preventative medicine Telehealth is an emerging field in every medical discipline, especially since it’s convenient and cost efficient, so I am really excited to see how an RD’s role integrates into the field.
Why are you excited to be using Healthie?
I believe using an online platform like Healthie can definitely improve people’s health. In this digital age, people are too busy and are looking for convenience. Healthie allow us RDs to talk with a patient and monitor their progress online – it can save your patient’s time as well as time spent on documenting and billing because it’s all on one platform! As a newly credentialed RD, I feel more confident to start up my own business with Healthie!
What advice do you have for RD students/interns?
Get involved with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – they provide you with many resources and opportunities that any dietetic students can take advantage of! Definitely apply for the Academy’s Foundation scholarships; they helped me so much during my internship. I served as a Student Representative for the Academy’s Student Advisory Committee; not only was I able to attend 2015 FNCE, but also I was able to network with a passionate group of nutrition professionals.
As a student, connecting with professors and other nutrition professionals were most valuable experience for me. Being involved in the campus dietetic organization has brought me some exciting opportunities, such as hosting a dinner with Mark Bittman, a NY Times food journalist and a best-selling author.
Miho, thanks for sitting down with us! We can’t wait to watch your career unfold!