Meet Lindsay Sparks, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian, and founder of Feed Your Spark. Lindsay is on a mission to help others understand how nutrition can impact mind, body, and soul – or as Lindsay says, our “inner spark!” We talked to Lindsay about her career path and how she followed her passions. Hear from her about how she opened her own private practice and what advice she has for future dietitians.
Tell us about your path to becoming a dietitian.
I always thought I was going to be an artist “when I grew up” thus, I began my college career studying visual and public arts. However, it seems that the universe had different plans for me! I eventually discovered that my interest in nutrition, which unfolded while working at various natural foods markets, became my true passion. So, in 2009, I decided to pursue becoming a dietitian. I completed my bachelors of science degree in dietetics at Missouri State University (MSU) in the Fall of 2013. I then went on to complete my dietetic internship at MSU as well and graduated in the Spring of 2015.
Can you tell us about your career to date?
If you can tell from my above response – I consider myself a “baby dietitian” as I’ve been practicing for just over a year now. J After I completed my internship, I took on two part-time jobs! Talk about eager to get working. One of my jobs was working as a consultant for skilled/long-term care facilities and the other was as a health and wellness dietitian for a small rural hospital. Eventually, the long commutes involved with both of these jobs took its toll on me. In March of this year, I accepted a full-time position at a large health care system here in southwest Missouri, and am currently working as an out-patient dietitian. Patients are referred to our nutrition center for a wide variety of needs, including hyperlipidemia, diabetes, IBS, food allergies, weight management, to tube feedings. We also have a robust multi-disciplinary bariatric surgery program, so about 40-50% of my patient load are either pre/post-bariatric surgery. It has been an enlightening and rewarding experience so far. I have found that I truly LOVE working with patients one-on-one, providing nutrition counseling and motivational interviewing.
Tell us about your decision to go into private practice – why did you decide it was the right path for you?
My decision to go into private practice began from the start of my pursuit to become a dietitian. I decided private practice is the right path for me because it allows for more flexibility, holistic approaches, and creative direction. Additionally, I appreciate the option for some freedom with scheduling. With all that said, I am just beginning to dip my toes into the waters of private practice, so here’s hoping I still find that it is the right path on down the road! I launched my website this month and have been plugging away in my free time to grow my business and figure out all of the intricacies of being a private practice RDN. From what I can tell so far, it takes drive and patience, which thankfully are two traits that I feel I possess.
What advice do you have for dietetic students just graduating / completing their internships?
First and foremost, take some time off post internship/graduation, if you are able! I jumped right into my job(s), literally starting the Monday after I completed my internship. Looking back, I probably should have given myself a bit of a rest before diving right into things (and studying for the CDR exam at the same time)! Some other advice, join some of the dietetics practice groups in the area(s) you are interested in. They can be filled with great resources and provide the opportunity to network with other RDNs.
How do you think technology is changing the way dietitians are practicing care?
I believe technology is changing the way dietitians are practicing because there are many tools available now to reach clients/patients and provide care – from smart phone apps, social media platforms, e-mail, to telehealth. Technology is also providing more individualized care pathways through advancements in the field of nutrigenomics, food allergy/sensitivity testing, and functional medicine.
Why are you excited about using Healthie?
I’m excited about using Healthie because it allows for a way to connect with clients using a platform that many individuals are familiar with and carry with them at all times – their cell phone! I like that clients can log their meals using pictures, and that there are options such as “hunger level” and “perceived healthiness” for clients to assess their nutritional status, versus strictly calorie counting. I’m also excited about using Healthie because of the excellent support I’ve received from them so far. They’ve helped to connect me with other RDNs in the private practice world and even taken the time to look over my website and provide guidance on its development.
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