How I Got Here: My Career Journey in the Eating Disorder Field

When I describe my job in the eating recovery space, people are often curious about how I got into this field. I start by explaining that over 30 million Americans of all ages and genders struggle with an eating disorder. It is a disorder that is characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating patterns that leads to poor physical and/or psychological health. I have been intrigued by understanding how eating disorders manifest for years. Eating is an activity essential to survival, and the body has many built-in mechanisms that regulate appetite and eating. Eating patterns are normally influenced by many factors, environmental as well as biological, and cultural too. The causes of eating disorders are rooted in a multitude of factors and complex. What drives me every day is that I get to support those on their recovery journey and help save lives. I connect with professionals in the community who are just as passionate about helping those struggling and finding a treatment program to help them on their path to recovery.

I first started out in this field over four years ago, working across all levels of care from the most acute clients to outpatient settings. My first job was at Denver Health working on the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders Unit. I worked alongside the top leaders from all disciplines, learning about all levels of care, memorizing the lists of acronyms to reference specific program modalities, and witnessing first-hand the medical complications that come from those struggling with this disorder. I worked closely with Dr. Margherita Mascolo, who at the time was the Medical Director at the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders. I gained a depth of knowledge around each level of care (IP, RTC, PHP, IOP, OP). Dr. Mascolo and her team, helped me understand the nuances of treatment and who are the best mental health resources are not just in Denver, but across the country. This is knowledge I took with me as I stepped into other jobs in the eating disorder field and continued to help those struggling the most.

My current role is the Regional Outreach Director with Alsana, a holistic eating disorder treatment program. Alsana caught my attention almost two years ago because it is designed to empower everyone to achieve a fully recovered life. Alsana is beautiful program, one of top eating recovery programs in the country, where I get to work alongside world-renowned clinical leaders who are just as committed to helping individuals achieve a full recovery.

Throughout my years of working in this field, I know that to make the most difference, I need to build on my knowledge so I can fully advocate for the full dose of ED treatment. I turned to the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation (iaedp) for additional education. The iaedp Foundation is a well-know and recognized association for its excellence in providing first-quality education and high-level training standards to an international multidisciplinary group of various healthcare treatment providers and helping professions, who treat the full spectrum of eating disorder problems. This Foundation has a non-clinical and educational designation for those working in the field of eating disorders. It is an in-depth course of study that has been created to acknowledge and formally recognize those working in the field of eating disorders or affiliated professions who have completed the coursework. The designation signifies that the individual has a solid overview of eating disorders, current treatment modalities, medical and nutritional aspects of diagnosis and treatment. I jumped at the opportunity to study and learn more to achieve this. In March 2021, I received the Associate, iaedp Institute on Eating Disorders.

Moving forward, my hope is to continue to provide a safe place for clients and their providers to consult with me to help find the appropriate program model and proper level of care for their clients. I will focus on supporting clinicians who are not as familiar with working with clients who struggle with eating disorders and continue to focus on connecting them with the best resources I know. Interested in connecting to share resources or learn more about myself or Alsana, please contact me at Mandi.Rector@Alsana.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Developing leaders, cultivating a culture of equity, inclusion and relationships is an intangible asset and one I enjoy being part of.