As a clinical dietitian at a local long term care facility, I interact daily with a number of individuals in all stages of the aging process, including many who have numerous health co-morbidities and mental illnesses such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Dementia. My role as clinical dietitian is to monitor their weight, food and fluid intake and adjust their diets to best meet their nutritional needs while overcoming a variety of feeding obstacles. Many residents need special therapeutic diets or modified consistency diets, adaptive equipment at meals, nutritional supplements or assistance with eating to optimize their nutritional intake.
More so than encouraging adequate food and fluid intake, I am an integral part of an interdisciplinary medical team that works to not only optimize the health and well-being of these residents, makes it a priority to interact with these residents on a daily basis, helping them to feel loved, cared for and special. In a time in their life when many have lost most of their loved ones, we step in and serve as their adopted family. Needless to say, I love each of them!
Weight Management Counselor
As a weight management counselor for a fitness center in West Virginia, I meet with clients who are participating in a state-funded weight management interventional program. Each session we talk about a client's nutritional strengths and weaknesses, interventions for improvement, nutritional tips and strategies and set intermediary "baby steps" towards meeting their long term goals. I definitely enjoy the one on one interactions with each of my clients, the satisfaction of knowing I'm making a difference in their life and that they are becoming more empowered by each session to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Wellness Dietitian & Blogger
I partake in various other "consulting" jobs 'that have included speaking/presenting at wellness fairs, health screenings and other educational sessions designed towards building healthier workplaces, individual nutrition consultations and writing this blog!
Dietitians across America have the opportunity to play a number of different "roles" throughout their career -- really the opportunities are endless -- which is one of the biggest factors that attracted me to becoming a dietitian from the get go. It suits my need for variety quite well!! My hope for my career is that I may continue to reach out to others in a way that inspires and empowers them to take the reins of their health, make sustainable lifestyle changes and live a more invigorated life.
Of course, I cannot forget to mention the most important/ fun role I play as a dietitian... feeding my husband!! Keeping this guy fed is almost a full-time job in itself.
Happy National Registered Dietitian Day to all the RD's out there!!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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