We’re delighted to feature Jody Garlick, RDN, LDN, as part of our “Meet the Expert” series. Jody is a dietitian and private practice owner, with a focus on gut health and autoimmune disorders. Read more about how she was having a tough time finding clients to pay for her services out of pocket, but once she started accepting health insurance on behalf of her clients, “…the phone started ringing!”
Why did you get started in nutrition and become an RDN?
This is my second career, so my choice to go into dietetics came after my two children were born. I realized that I really didn’t love what I studied prior (Economics) and was working in the natural gas industry! I loved nutrition and had shelves of nutrition books that I spent hours reading.
During this time, I also struggled with IBS and decided to try changing my diet to see if it would help. And it did! I was hooked and thought it was the perfect time to go back to school while raising my small children. By the time I was ready to work as a full-fledged RDN, they were in school all day.
Tell us more about your private practice. What makes your niche special?
My dream was always to one day have my own practice. Over the years, I have worked in so many areas of the field and found my passion with digestive and autoimmune disorders. Although I work with clients who have other issues, GI health is my primary focus. I am also an integrative and functional dietitian.
Who is your ideal client?
My ideal client is one who has been to multiple doctors, has tried many types of diets, and can’t figure out what to do next. They need guidance digging deeper to get to the root of their health issues and are motivated to work hard to find health again.
Why did you decide to accept insurance?
A couple of years ago, I was working full-time and seeing a few clients virtually on the side. I had a hard time finding clients who wanted to pay for services out of pocket. Eventually, I just stopped doing it and continued my regular job. Last year I found out about Healthy Bytes and thought it might be worth another go but this time as a provider with insurance. When the insurance contracts were signed, the phone started ringing! It was so easy to get clients and even easier to submit a claim. After about three months, I quit my full-time job to work in private practice full time and couldn’t be happier.
What advice would you give another RDN who is thinking about accepting insurance?
I think it’s a bit intimidating to many RDNs, but I’m grateful that my gut was telling me to just give it a try. I would suggest checking to see what other RDNs are doing where you live to see if they are accepting insurance. When I looked at the dietitians around me, I could tell which insurance companies they were using so I knew who to reach out to for contracts.
What change do you hope to see or are excited about in the field of nutrition and dietetics?
Because of my passion for GI health, my favorite emerging area right now is the microbiome. I have been using microbiome testing with clients to help restore gut health and it’s just amazing to have this new technology and so much new research available!
What’s your favorite piece of advice you have received?
The best advice I have received came from my husband. He has owned his own landscaping business for 28 years. When I started my private practice, he advised me to spend as little money as possible and just get the bare minimum until I was able to grow. He told me that as long as I provide good service and clients are happy, I could work in a cave and they would still come to see me!
I followed his advice, although I did initially spend some money decorating my office to make sure it looked professional, and he was right. My monthly rent and other overhead costs have remained quite low and I only spend money when I need to. I have put all my efforts into my services and clients and it has worked out well.
What a success story, Jody! You received great advice along the way to growing your practice!