ARC Health & Wellness Community

The Association of Retail and Consumer Professionals

Articles

Beth Eggleston, MS, RDN, a nutrition education specialist for Meijer Specialty Pharmacy, took a different approach to becoming a retail dietitian than most. She originally had a public health background. 

After receiving her master’s degree in public health nutrition from Case Western Reserve University, she worked as a WIC dietitian on the south side of Chicago and was the nutrition and breastfeeding coordinator for the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing. She additionally served as the health promotion educator at a hospital near Grand Rapids. However, she knew it was a sign when three people sent her the job application to her current role at Meijer Specialty Pharmacy. 

“They said, ‘This job is perfect for you. This job was made for you,’” she said. Now deep into the job five years later, “Meijer is a fabulous company and I hope to be here for a long, long time.” 

She’s had several responsibilities in her current role. Her first was to work to create a web-based nutrition resource for specialty pharmacy patients. “They originally said to create a website and have some resources and recipes on there. Never having dietitians in specialty pharmacy before, I don’t think they knew what they were in for when we started creating content, tools, resources and recipes for our first condition, Crohn’s Disease/ulcerative colitis. The sheer amount was enormous.”  

From there, the website snowballed into a plethora of other specialty pharmacy conditions, each with specific tools, resources and recipes.  

Building the Meijer Specialty Pharmacy nutrition website from the ground up is what she’s most proud of. She and her dietitian partner have worked to create nearly 400 recipes and 200 downloadable tools and resources on the pharmacy’s website. Patients and providers are also able to email the dietitian team directly to have their nutrition questions answered in a HIPAA secure system. 

“It’s so impressive,” she said. “It has so many patient resources. It’s also so different from any other specialty pharmacy, a major differentiator in the field.” 

Here’s some other topics we covered with Eggleston. 

Q. What does a typical day look like for you? 

A. Every day is different.  For instance, I worked with a dietetic intern this week. One day we tested recipes at our Meijer test kitchens for a recipe to be included in a budget-friendly cookbook. We know inflation and cost are big issues for many folks these days. 

We also attended a motivational interview training through some of our pharma partners.    

We worked on patient-friendly handouts for an upcoming project. And my intern was able to attend an in-studio media segment I was asked to do on behalf of Meijer, with the topic of fueling the student athlete. I really enjoy the public speaking pieces. I spoke at last year’s FNCE conference on the topic of Food as Medicine in the Specialty Pharmacy Span of Care. I love that Meijer has supported what I enjoy and helps to foster growth in other areas of my career, leadership, for example.   

Q. What do you like about being a retail dietitian? 

A. I really like how fast-paced it is. I love how I can go into the store and I know the process of taking a product from the field to the shelf. 

I also love seeing how we, as clinicians in pharmacy, can really impact our patients. As the dietitians, we get to do a lot of outreach with our patients, including support groups for different conditions, Lunch and Learns, events, walks and fundraisers. Our table at events is always popular. We hand out things people actually use — recipes, cookbooks and spatulas. The spatulas go like hot cakes. 

Food is such a common denominator; everybody has to eat. As dietitians, we can be that bridge between pharmacy and our patients. Food is often something that brings familiarity and comfort and being able to let our patients know what they CAN eat versus what they CAN’T is really impactful. 

Q. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry? 

A. One challenge is showing our value, especially when you have an uphill battle of, “why did this store hire dietitians? What do they actually do?” That can be an issue. 

Another challenge is being taken seriously as a health care professional and not just “the recipe gals” or the “food police.” I feel like every dietitian has that in the back of their mind. 

Q. What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?  

A. I wish I had more business curriculum in my schooling, 1,000%. I wish there had been a dietetic track with a business emphasis. Going into a retail setting, without a basic business background made for a steep learning curve.  Just to have known the basics would’ve been wildly helpful in this role. 

Q. Has there been anything specific that helped you move forward in your role? 

A. Working to grow the nutrition programs that Meijer offers. It’s been important to show that we have dietitians who are ready and excited to promote health and wellness. Working across departments has been a fun and unique part of the job because we can relate to many areas of the business. Finally, surrounding yourself with good people who are passionate about what they do and also care about you as a person has been highly impactful! 

Bio: 

Beth Eggleston, MS, RDN, is a nutrition education specialist for Meijer Specialty Pharmacy, a subsidiary of the Midwest-based grocery retailer, Meijer. Hired into a new position, Eggleston helped to build Meijer Specialty Pharmacy’s nutrition programming, focusing on web-based nutritional resources and recipes tailored to those living with specialty medical conditions. At the same time, she and her team, via Meijer’s national sales team, create and provide nutritional-based materials for physician offices and their patients. More recently, Eggleston has expanded her job responsibilities into Meijer’s retail pharmacy and grocery business and is collaborating with various departments, including merchandising, marketing and communications. 

Eggleston previously held various roles in public health, including acting as the nutrition and breastfeeding coordinator for the Michigan Department of Public Health’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Program and serving as a WIC dietitian on the south side of Chicago. Prior to joining Meijer Specialty Pharmacy, Eggleston served as the health promotion educator at Holland Hospital on Michigan’s lakeshore. 

Eggleston holds her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University and her master’s degree in public health nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two young children. 

Latest Posts

Articles by Category