Susan Stalte always worked hard while going to school. Motivated to avoid school debt, she accumulated degrees and experience that have held her in good stead. She showed foresight, made her luck, and worked her way into her ideal job.
Raised in the Philadelphia area, Susan enrolled in a local community college, not knowing what she wanted to major in. She had been exposed to healthcare by her mother who was a nurse manager, and she knew healthcare was a business. She had also taken care of her father who had cancer and was brought face-to-face with the impact nutrition had on cancer. But it was not until Susan took a required nutrition elective that the pieces fell into place. She researched the local school options to study nutrition and landed in the dietetics program at Immaculata University where she “clicked with the curriculum.”
When she was in college, she was introduced to a career coach, Ashley Stahl, who had a huge impact on her. Susan followed Ashley’s business, read her work, and was inspired to create her own opportunities, be bold, and put herself out there. “Ashley was my role model outside of dietetics and she taught me a lot about how to show up in the world.”
After college, Susan engaged the help of All Access Dietetics to help her create a stand-out dietetic internship application. She was proud to be matched to Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina where she completed her supervised practice rotations. In 2015, she passed her RD exam and was awarded her Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential. And as if she wasn’t busy enough, she enrolled in an online program at Missouri Baptist University earning a Master of Business Administration in 2018. Along the way, she worked odd jobs in restaurants and babysat to pay her way and learn soft skills like time-management, interpersonal communication, and organization. She also had to balance taking care of a sick parent which was like having a side full-time job.
Susan’s jobs as a dietitian have been a mixture of patient care and team support. She has worked with pediatric and geriatric patients in home care and institutional settings providing nutrition counseling and clinical nutrition therapy where she learned a lot about people. “I wasn’t so aware of the struggles of other people until I spent time working in these settings,” she said. She also got a lot of clinical experience to hone her skills.
Throughout this period, she worked on a per diem or part-time basis so she could control her hours and work at multiple places. Flexibility was a priority. “I wanted to dabble in different areas so I could learn different skills,” she explained. “Lots of dietitians have a side gig.”
As the years passed, Susan kept in mind the place where she really wanted to work eventually. She had connected back to her interest in the business of healthcare when she worked in operations for healthcare IT and tele-medicine start-ups. However, she was eager to pivot back to the dietetics realm and always remembered All Access Dietetics had been helpful to her when she was a student. She kept in touch with the Founder, Jenny Westerkamp, RD, CSSD, consistently until there was an opening for a coach and she joined the team. Now as the Director of Operations, she works closely with other members of the team each day to support future dietitians with their careers. “I wear many hats…and I am more interested in dietetic entrepreneurship now than clinical dietetics.”
As for the future, Susan looks forward to growing with All Access Dietetics, adding additional offerings, and increasing support for students. In terms of the profession, she believes there are more and more business and entrepreneurship opportunities and though many jobs don’t necessarily require the RD, connecting with other RD’s is great for referrals and opens door to many jobs. She believes that marketing yourself and serving others along the way is how you can build a dietetics career you love.
Advice for others:
– Take advantage of per diem jobs to build your skills and network.
– Find your competitive edge.
– Get on LinkedIn and reach out to RDs who work at the companies you want to.
– Success takes grit and patience.
– Make time for yourself, both mental and spiritual.