I get asked this question often and it's a good one! Ever since I decided to become The Nurses' Dietitian, I get asked "why do you want to help nurses?"
So I wanted to share here my why and how I became The Nurses' Dietitian.
First, I have a personal love for nurses.
My own mama has been a NICU nurse as long as I can remember. I remember growing up going to visit her at the hospital, getting to see all the tiny babies and all of my mom's nursing friends. Funny enough as well, my mother-in-law is also in nursing.
But on a professional level, I also spent many years working in clinical settings.
When I first became a Registered Dietitian, I went the route that many RDs do and I went to work in clinical nutrition.
My very first job as an RD was in a relatively small hospital. The type of hospital where everyone knew everyone and most of the doctors were very old school and were not always very open to change. It was a challenge in many ways, but the nurses always had my back.
Then I worked in a very large teaching hospital, where over the years I covered just about every unit possible at some point - from med-surg, telemetry, ortho, oncology, ICU, MICU, CCU, PICU, Neuro, step-down units, acute rehab, mental health, I covered our outpatient center and taught community health classes.
After I left the hospital scene I did some work for a Skilled Nursing Facility, but I mostly moved back to a focus of health coaching, which I had done before becoming a dietitian. Preventative health and wellness was my passion, so it was a good fit for me.
Now, during all the years of working in various settings, I met a ton of AMAZING nurses!
I honestly could not have done my job in any of these settings without them. The nurses were the ones I would go to for updates on any patients, ask questions about the patients, and share what I was going to be recommended to the doctors (because let's face it, I would page the doctors but many of them didn't follow up with what we recommend).
I also just found so many truly caring and friendly nurses who I enjoyed spending time with. While I loved my fellow dietitians, I spent more time during the day on the floors in the units I was covering hanging out with the nurses on those floors. The nurses were the ones I knew I could count on.
But I also can remember so many nurses asking me questions about diets, fads, weight loss, supplements, and other nutrition-related questions.
I know all of these nurses were highly educated, but many of them were susceptible to fads and quick fixes because they just didn't have a lot of time to spend on themselves.
I saw the nurses working long shifts, not getting their breaks, running around, dealing with patients, the patients' families, doctors, other departments (such as us dietitians), passing meds, running codes, and so much more.
They were so busy taking care of everyone and everything else, that they weren't always taking care of themselves.
Plus, I know many of these nurses also had families they would return home to after work. Which as I know as a mom of two, being a parent is essentially like working a couple of full-time jobs on top of everything else.
Thinking back about my mom working as a nurse when I was growing up, I only now realize how much she had on her plate. My mom knew we weren't always eating the healthiest (as unfortunately nutrition or healthy eating wasn't really something we talked about at home), so she would try and help give us ways to get extra fruits and veggies in. But I have seen over the years how giving all the time (to work, to my family, and everyone else) impacted her health and wellness as well.
Even now as I work as a health coach when I have a nurse I am working with, I hear so many of these same struggles. I realized that there aren't many people out there looking out for the nurses! So I decided that needed to change!
And with that, I decided to become the Nurses' Dietitian.
While I want to help as many people as possible be as healthy as possible, I decided to find simple, healthy changes that nurses can make in order to boost their energy and feel better overall.
It's not about weight (although, I know that might be a goal for some nurses and something I can help with). It's about taking care of yourself. Finding simple, sustainable, healthy habits that help nurses focus on their own self-care. I know that all of this can help nurses can have more energy to keep up with everything AND work towards any personal goals they may have.
I look forward to connecting more and supporting those in the nursing field, as The Nurses' Dietitian.