Mayumi Petrisko: Dietitian to Director
By: Jessica Martin, SDSU Chapter Member
Meet Mayumi Petrisko, the Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) at San Diego State University. In addition to all of the experience she has gained from her current position, she has had a plethora of hands on experiences within nutritional fields, including working as a Registered Dietitian in multiple settings and becoming a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. Petrisko also completed her Master’s Degrees in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at San Diego State University, and started teaching nutrition courses shortly thereafter. Currently, as the DPD Director, she teaches classes in Medical Nutrition Therapy and advises DPD students.
As a Registered Dietitian, Petrisko has had the opportunity to put her problem solving skills to the test. Working as a clinical dietitian in hospitals, she got to work directly with patients to assess them and develop nutrition care plans for them. While working in the hospitals created a mental challenge to find the perfect plan for each individual patient, she disliked the fact that all of her recommended diet changes had to be ordered through a doctor and she often had to work weekends and holidays. In addition to working in a clinical setting, Petrisko also worked as a dietitian for the FitLife program at UCSD, a program that aims to incorporate fitness and wellness into campus life. This allowed her to combine her love of exercise physiology and nutrition to work with athletes, give presentations to students around campus and conduct individual nutritional consultations.The biggest challenge in this position was counseling and working with clients who were not motivated to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Petrisko found that the transition to teaching after obtaining her Master’s Degrees was fairly smooth; it helped that she had always wanted to be a teacher and that she had some teaching experience under her belt already from being a Graduate TA. Throughout her experiences, Petrisko has cited that preparing for teaching a new course is one of the hardest things to do as a professor. Her favorite course to teach is Medical Nutrition Therapy, the course she currently teaches now, as it requires students to draw upon knowledge from all of their prerequisite courses such as chemistry, biology, physiology and anatomy while also engaging in critical thinking.
The DPD that Petrisko directs is a program that is meant for students who wish to become registered dietitian nutritionists and obtain their RD/RDN credential, the nationally recognized credential in the nutritional field. Students who complete the DPD go on to complete a dietetic internship and take a credentialing exam to become an RD/RDN. Petrisko advises DPD to prioritize academics, get to know their professors, get involved in nutrition organizations and get some form of dietetic experience whether it be from working, volunteering, research, or leadership experience.
Petrisko’s advice to all women in science is to keep your mind open, explore new opportunities and network with professionals. You never know where it might take you!