Mapping Resiliency Among Dietitians

Mapping Resiliency
Among Dietitians
Jacqui Gingras, PhD, RD
Ryerson University
Jennifer Atkins, BASc, MHSc (Candidate)
University of Toronto
Little is known about how
• Dietitians experience workplace stress
• Personal experiences and backgrounds
shape practice
• Dietitians strive to cultivate resilience in
their careers
Science-based vs. experiential types of
knowledge (Liquori, 2001)
Professionalization – dietitian identity
constituted through professional
discourse (Butler, 1999)
Isolation & suppression of emotions
(DeVault, 1999)
Reality of practice vs. expectations and
melancholia/loss/grieving (Gingras, 2009)
Reflexive, artistic, experiential
Six female dietitian participants
Three, four-hour sessions of
narrative exploration on The
Resiliency Map
The Resiliency Map
16’ x 16’
fabric map
• Shared Values
• Motivation &
 Self
 Emotions & Relational
 Community & Social Networks
 Socio-political & Marginalization
• Disconnection
• Workplace Conflict
• Relational Resiliency
• Gender
• Emotionality
• Burnout
• [You’re] always trying to, trying to, to, to bend and be, you
know the way you’re supposed to be (Emily)
• There’s a lot [of]… expectations… about body size. [It’s] just
feeling kind of exposed all the time and having lots of
comments about my size…” (Kathy)
• I’m teaching people what to do with their babies and how to
be with their kids and everything and my kids are being totally
ignored… I’m feeling really guilty (Heather)
Moral Strain
• It seems like we don’t all agree on what contributes to
health… you know what’s actually important (Pamela).
Workplace Conflict
• Clinical hierarchies (Kelly, 2006) & Dietetics as a
profession unknown
• I …moved from the hospital into the community….
.which is not as respected, absolutely not as
respected You know being told, “it won’t be as
challenging but that’s nice work out there in
community’. (Kathy)
• When you’re working on a project… and one
[dietitian, with a Master’s degree] is paid more and
what they say is respected … the imbalance…
erodes your sense of worth…it’s very demeaning.
Workplace Conflict
• “Women, more than men, are reluctant to
engaged in conflict as they feel they may be
dismissed as ‘emotional women’” (Kelly, 2004,
• “People who make it into positions of power don’t
show their emotions, they don’t get emotional”.
• “The social negotiation of position, authority and
status is very much an emotional and sometimes
passionate process” (Fineman & Sturdy, 1999, p. 659)
Relational Resiliency
No Longer Alone
“I always think “it’s just me”, and really, being, talking
to this group I think “maybe it’s not just me”. (Pamela)
“It comes back to this (moves to “shared values” on the
map) shared values as well for me … the connections
with other people are what keeps me here”. (Emily)
Relational Resiliency
Realizing Resiliency
• “Flying under the radar” (Heather)
• Research, education, creativity, teaching,
mentoring, always trying something new
Speaking truth to power
• “Some of those things that we’ve talked about I haven’t
spoken as openly about before, and then once you
have, you start, then, it becomes like a truth”.
Maslach’s Burnout Inventory (MBI) begins
with Emotional Exhaustion
Cornerstone five points of resiliency (DenzPenhey, & Murdoch, 2008)
• Social support networks
• Family
• Experiential inner wisdom
• Physical environment
• Psychological self
Implications for Practice
Resilience can be learned (Waite, &
Richardson, 2004)
Given reports of isolation in
dietetics, relational resilience is
especially relevant
Further research warranted
Acknowledge the unique challenges
and discourses that constitute
dietetic work
Acknowledgements and Thanks
Our participants
Collaborators at Fife House for their
expertise and meeting spaces
AIDS Bereavement Project of Ontario for
sharing their Resiliency Map
Cindy Weeds for her community
development skills and Anna
Demetrakopoulus for facilitation of The
Resiliency Map process
Funding was provided by the Office of
Research Services and the Faculty of
Community Services (Ryerson University)
Adams, L. T. Inter-professional conflict and
professionalization: dentistry and dental hygiene in Ontario.
Social Science & Medicine, 2004, 58, 2243-2252.
AIDS Bereavement Project of Ontario’s (ABPO, 2004).
Reproduced with permission. Available at:
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Denz-Penhey, H. & Murdoch, C. Personal resiliency: serious
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