Healthy Competition: Dietitian positions competitive for those wanting to stay on P.E.I.

By Darcy Cudmore

The Guardian

Belinda McLachlan graduated from UPEI in 2012 and began looking for jobs as a dietitian.

Three months later, she extended her search to the rest of Canada.

She ended up accepting a job in Alberta and she has been there ever since.

“I would have loved to stay on the Island to continue to be close to my family and keep the connections I had made, but simply the job market had so many qualified professionals in it that a new grad like myself didn’t stand a chance.”

Even today, the postings from P.E.I. are short term or temporary, which would lead to the uncertainty of what she would do after the time was up, she said.

“I do want to come home, but I need job security and I haven’t found a job that is close to the variety and flexibility that I have in my current job.”

Today, dietitian students still compete over the small number of jobs on P.E.I.

Lydia Raynor will graduate from the dietitian program at UPEI this year and hopes to find employment on P.E.I., but she is open to leaving if she can’t find a job right away.

“At the moment, there doesn‘t seem to be an abundance of jobs for new dietitians on the Island, especially full-time permanent positions. There are certainly jobs off Island, however, you have to be willing to move where the jobs are.”

Michaela Rowan will also graduate from UPEI this year and plans to work off-Island initially.

“I want to see different parts of the country and work in other provinces like British Columbia and Alberta,” she said.

“Most of the job postings for dietitians seem to be in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta. I would definitely like to return to P.E.I. to work after getting a few years experience, but I have heard it is hard to get a job here straight out of school.”

With the number of universities in the Maritimes spitting out dietitians, and the small size of P.E.I., there will never be enough jobs for everyone. Adjustments for preventative care could open up some more employment, she said.

“At my current job in Alberta, people can self refer if they feel like they would benefit from seeing a dietitian.

“On P.E.I., when I was going through my internship anyway, there was no acceptance of self-referrals for those wanting to help improve their health before it got more serious. So essentially, there could be more job creation in prevention and education.”

This May 10 more students will graduate from UPEI as dietitians.