By Emily Hulse

If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen it all. You’ve seen students glancing at one another’s tests as they’re handed back anticipating comparison, you’ve heard professors explain over and over again the importance of being a stand out student and grabbing opportunities, and you’ve read the statistics of the latest match round of the dietetic internship. You understand the road to becoming a dietitian, the idea of being an Rd2Be, is competitive, in a million different ways and every single day.

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Sometimes, it seems impossible to attain the famous RDN credential. First, you have to want to work in this field and to be passionate about everything it means. From there, you have to jump through various hoops including a Bachelor’s degree, Verification Statement, Dietetic Internship, and the national RDN exam. Don’t get me wrong – these steps are very necessary to ensure that dietitians across the United States are prepared to change the health of clients and patients for the better. Producing the best RDNs makes this field continue to grow in the best ways possible. But just because I’ve accepted it, doesn’t make it any easier to digest!

During the daily routine of classes, supervised practice, volunteering or working a paid job, studying, eating, and maybe even getting to the gym, this process can seem competitive and aggressive. Perhaps its the excessive stress that gives Rd2Be’s a heightened response of it all, but sometimes it can seem like everyone and every angle is out to get in your way on becoming an RDN. This can lead to stress, mental health issues, or even fear of the future within this career path. But it doesn’t have to turn out this way.

Unless you take the time to think otherwise, it’s easy to see how difficult the road to becoming an RDN is, and how brutal the entire process can be.  However, it’s easy to see that sometimes the thing getting most in the way of your Rd2Be journey is yourself. As hard as that is to swallow, it may come as a relief. Because you are the one person in charge of the path your career takes, you have the option to be as aggressive or rigorous in your journey as you want. Even better, you can still be competitive without competing against others and ruining relationships with other Rd2Be’s in your program.  Sometimes the best competition comes from within, making ourselves better from the inside out, rather than focusing on the external factors like our classmates/peers, professors, and school.

So next time your professor hands out an exam, don’t focus on comparing it to the student next to yours. Instead, focus on how it compares to your last exam grade. If it’s better – awesome, and if not, inspire yourself to do better. Keep track of your grades and aim to do better each time around, not worse. And when your professor explains the importance of being a stand out student, remember that you already are one! If you feel like maybe you’re not as prepared or involved as you want to be, then do what you can to get to that point and be comfortable with your journey through your degree. It doesn’t mean stretching yourself thin or joining the same clubs as your other RD2Be friends just to check off another box on your resume. Maybe it means getting a job or starting a blog to keep you motivated and explore your other passions. Whatever it is, make sure to motivate yourself to become your best version. And finally, while the statistics don’t often lie, remember that one day after hard work and dedication you’ll be matched, too.

While it may seem easier said than done, by actively thinking about your career and journey through nutrition and dietetics, your passions, your experiences, and your goals, it will be easier to see how important your own choices are. Instead of spending 4 years tearing down your classmates’ grades, build yours up in a healthy way. It will pay off in the long run, even if its hard to see during midterms week. In the end, becoming an RDN makes it all worth it.

Stay humble and motivated, fellow Rd2Be’s. And remember who the real competition is: yourself.