Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Today's Dietitian, February 2015

Building a Private Practice
By Lindsey Getz
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 17 No. 2 P. 36

Today's Dietitian, May 2014
Dietitians and Their Weight Struggles
By Juliann Schaeffer
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 16 No. 5 P. 32

Ventures, Spring 2005

Spin-offs from a Private Practice

A private practice, even a small, part-time practice can open up many work opportunities. For me, over the past 34 years, unexpected spin-offs have come from many different sources. If you are approached with something new that’s within your area of expertise, always say yes, and then think about it. Sometimes you need to leap into a challenge.

Here are some examples: 
  • Cards and brochures: Add Speaker, Consultant, Media, Personal Trainer or any other field you would like to start or expand. 
  • Speaking engagements: When counseling clients who work for large companies they may ask you to talk at their company or for their association. Instead of a long list of facts and tables, base your talk on experiences with clients, what works and what doesn’t. This creates more interest and audience members will be introduced to you as a nutrition counselor. 
  • Consulting work: Many companies want nutrition experts to counsel participants at marathons or women’s wellness events, to sit on research panels or to be involved in projects that include counseling. 
  • Focus groups: List yourself on the Nutrition Network of www.eatright.org . You may receive calls to join a focus group. There are many types of focus groups such as the scenario where clients sit behind a one-way mirror as someone asks you questions. 
  • Spokesperson work: A private client may work for a PR agency and will recommend you as a spokesperson. 
  • Media work: Television, radio, magazine and newspaper work can come from clients in your practice. For example, when I had a practice in Johannesburg, one of my anorexia nervosa clients seemed to be doing quite well, and then disappeared. A year later, she brought a camera crew to interview me on eating disorders. She had become a producer and was doing very well. During media interviews, particularly radio call-in programs, using examples from your private practice helps people identify with your clients. 
  • Writing: When I had a weekly column, my clients gave me umpteen stories, which I used. In Toronto, because I was in private practice, the Canadian Dietetic Association asked me to give a talk to the media during Nutrition Month. Scouts from Macmillan publishing, Inc. were in the audience, and asked me to write a book based on the success of my private practice. My book, Feel Fantastic, contains all the questions clients ask me and the motivational answers. I was also asked to give a talk to The Kellogg’s Co. staff. Subsequently, my book appeared on one million cereal boxes. 
  • Interns: Contact internship directors in your area. When students do their elective rotation with you, from three to six weeks, you spend time teaching them, but you also learn quite a bit from them. After counseling each client, I ask the interns for their input. They will let you know if there’s anything new on a particular topic discussed during your session with that client. They can also help you make your PowerPoint slides more exciting, and handouts and brochures more attractive. They can also be a good spin-off. Examples: In Toronto, I had given a talk to interns on starting a private practice. When I moved to the U.S., one of the interns organized nine talks for me in Northern Ontario. Another time, in San Diego, I gave a talk to interns on how to run your own business; many years later, two of those interns booked me for talks to the Texas and Virginia Dietetic Associations. 
  • Refer work: If you are not an expert in cooking, chronic renal failure, HIV/AIDS, etc. pass the job on to colleagues. You will be surprised at how many people will remember you for future counseling or speaking clients. 
  • Fitness certifications: Many dietitians study hard for the ACSM, ACE or NASM personal training certification. They find business increases rapidly as the referrals spin-off either way. 
  • Website: Everyone is cruising the Internet these days looking for a nutrition counselor and may find that you supply other services. Be sure to setup a website for your practice. 
If you only do counseling, you can burn out quickly. Taking on other opportunities brings you new challenges, a different way of thinking and increased income. In order to get this work, you may need to work on your image. Always look professional, help others, be pleasant and maintain a healthy weight. Enjoy the spin-offs. 

Media Savvy Musts

Feel Confident at Your Next Media Interview 

Believe me, there is nothing scary about a media interview. They just want your information. In all my years of being interviewed on radio and television, for newspapers and magazines, only once was a former friendly host hostile, catching me off guard. However, within ten minutes he was eating out of my hand. Keep to your facts, have a sense of humor and you can handle any interview with ease.
The first time I was in the media I was two years old, when my adventurous parents moved from Canada to South Africa. I grew up with the media around our family as we went searching for the Lost City of the Kalahari in Namibia every year. They were always nice and real people. 

In my teens, I started doing nutrition interviews as a student because my professor asked me to. She was nervous when she was asked a question she couldn’t answer. As a student, it didn’t matter if I fluffed it. As it turned out, the questions were easy so I started off fearless. 

This isn’t marketing to the media (another topic) but what to do if the media contacts you. The “musts” can be found in any media-training manual. These are the “musts” from my experience. 

Newspaper, magazine and radio interviews:
a. Return calls and emails immediately. Understand deadlines for newspaper and radio interviews; magazine interviews have a longer timeline.
b. If they are referring to an article or study, ask them to email it first and call them back when you have your facts in order.
c. Prepare for the interview: Ask if it is live or taped and who is the target audience.
d. Research the subject and suggest questions. After your suggested questions, add AND info: For a registered dietitian in your area, go to The Association of Nutrition and Dietetic’s website at www.eatright.org.
e. When answering, be honest, not perfect.
f. Be prepared for disappointments. Interviews of four hours or counseling a magazine reader for three months can result in a one-sentence quote,and not necessarily a good one. 

Television Interviews:
When I gave a talk for the Nutrition Entrepreneurs on this topic, Media Savvy Musts, I showed an edited tape of ten of my television interviews. I explained the preparation beforehand, why I chose to wear what I did, what surprised me, and how good I felt afterwards. Even though the tape showed the best parts of my interviews in it, members liked to know I was normal.
a. Spontaneous interviews can be improved on if you know all the questions beforehand. Do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up afterwards. The tape can always be edited later.
b. Carefully worded and written facts sound better to your ear, spontaneity sounds better to the listeners.
c. Check with the producer that your name and credentials are correct. Add MS and RDN but not FADA, CDE etc. MS, RDN is confusing enough to the consumer.
d. Bring props, don’t be a talking head. 

Spokesperson work - the difference:
a. You will be media trained. This can be a harrowing experience but it prepares you for the worst (which has never happened to me). With practice it gets easier.
b. Food companies are not going to put words in your mouth you don’t agree with. They want the facts to be correct and for you to feel comfortable and confident with the message. Of course, if this is not the case, run.
c. Television interviews are about your message, spokesperson work is about the company’s key messages and their image.
d. Practice transitioning to your key messages when the host goes off the subject.
e. Don’t sound like you’re advertising, your client won’t want that either.
f. “Desksides” means sitting at the desks of health editors and chatting about the product or program. 

1. For phone interviews, pajamas are fine!
2. For television: Bold colors are best. My “must” for women is, wear a jacket. When they mike you, you don’t need strangers wiring inside your dress/blouse.
3. Look stylish. If you don’t understand fashion, have someone with taste, help you. I do.
4. No big jewelry that will tap the mike.
5. Neat hair. You cannot believe how attractive, natural-looking wisps look messy on a close-up. For women, overdo your makeup otherwise you’ll look washed out. The plus side is that it will wash out your wrinkles as well. Men will need some powder; no shiny faces here. If there’s a makeup artist, ask for a touch up.
6. Look under your shoes. The soles may be worn and show if you’re perched on a chair.
7. Look in the mirror just before you go on camera; sometimes a skew tie or necklace is distracting to the audience.

The interview:
a. Speak in short sentences (sound bytes). I still find that tough. Answering the question directly helps. After that, go into more detail.
b. Don’t look at the camera; look at the host, unless you are actually speaking to the camera.
c. Show enthusiasm, don't speak in one tone or you may sound boring.
d. Smile. Talk as if you are talking to friends in your living room.
e. Stay seated until they tell you to leave. Watch TV interviews. You will notice the host and guest continue talking while the music plays and titles scroll. 

To further your career:
a. Start a database with your television, radio, magazine and newspaper contacts: name, company, address, telephone number, email, what was said and done. You may need them at a later date.
a. Send a thank you email.
b. Keep links of all interviews and add to your website.

Enjoy and keep our profession in show business.