Elisabeth Peterson: Biography

Growing up | Home Life | Early Career | Creating Peterson Nutrition

Early Career:

With the stability of my education and my family, I applied for a dietetic internship at the Medical College of Virginia. I was accepted as one of six out of hundreds of applicants. The internship was comprehensive and challenging and it gave me a strong foundation to embark upon my career as a dietitian. After completing the internship, I passed the required national exam and became a Registered Dietitian. Whew! And then, with the juggling pins still in the air, I was married, in my own home, comfortable, and I had all the educational tools and endorsements in place to practice as a dietitian.

My very first job was at Richmond Health Care Group where as a Medical Nutrition Therapist/Health Educator I participated in multi-disciplinary approach to health care with a team of Doctors, Pharmacists, Nurses, Lab/X-ray Technicians. It was a unique environment because the complete team practiced under one roof, and I loved it. I provided health care education and services to children to those in later years at risk for a variety of diseases such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, high risk pregnancies, obesity and eating disorders. I taught each patient about the physiology of disease, the benefits of proper nutrition and measures of control, exercise and education. I really enjoyed my first job, my colleagues and the patients. Unfortunately, the practice closed, which sent me searching for another opportunity.

An opportunity arose at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital where I became their Outpatient Dietitian. There had not been an outpatient dietitian at St. Mary’s for some time, and I was tasked with developing and managing the Outpatient Nutrition Center. In my role as a medical nutrition therapist, I designed individualized therapeutic regimens based on specific diagnoses and patient goals. In addition, I taught classes, participated in health fairs and wrote articles for department newsletters. Although St. Mary’s provided me opportunities to grow in some ways, the very clinical environment was not an atmosphere that supported my fundamental passions. There was something missing in that environment that I could not put my finger on as I struggled with feelings that I could not define.

In short, I was conflicted. My whole life was about my family, personal interaction and about helping people. I struggled to define and identify the best way to satisfy my internal needs.

I seized an opportunity to help more people in the community and remove myself from the clinical environment by becoming the Corporate Dietitian at Ukrop’s Super Markets. It was a great match for me, as I interacted with customers and associates by serving as a nutrition resource and a representative of Ukrop’s in the community. While there, I developed, managed and practiced in their individual counseling programs.

There was still something missing, however, and I felt that I was neither being true to myself nor using my gifts. It finally struck me that my true passion was for helping people on an individual basis in a therapeutic environment. Immediately after my “revelation” I recognized that Ukrop’s was not the best avenue for me to fulfill my needs and I made the decision to enter private practice.

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