Marlene – perhaps like many others – suspected she had a future in healthcare, but wasn’t sure in exactly what capacity. From changing her career path to taking classes that led her to a career she loves, Marlene shares an inside look of what a future in nutrition support can look like.
With a love of science, a knack for numbers, and a desire for a career that involved helping others, Marlene always suspected that she had a future in healthcare. Initially destined for a physical therapy program, she later changed course to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Cornell University. As part of her coursework, she had the opportunity to take some courses in nutrition, which piqued her interest. When she eventually took a course in clinical nutrition, she knew it almost instantly: she had found her calling. Upon graduating, she headed south to Atlanta for her dietetic internship and to pursue her master’s degree.
Following the completion of her post-graduate studies, Marlene landed a role at Northside Hospital as Nutrition Support Dietitian in 1982. In this role, she had the opportunity to work on a multidisciplinary team that included a pharmacist, a nurse, and a dietitian working together to holistically treat patients. While this approach took some getting used to for her colleagues at the time, she and her team eventually won over their coworkers by achieving excellent results and displaying expert knowledge, thus proving their team’s value within the patient care spectrum.
A Day in the Life of a Dietitian
Fast forward to 2020, and Marlene is still just as passionate – and perhaps more – about nutrition support as she was on day 1. On a daily basis, she works with a wide range of patients that have a need for nutrition support services and develops enteral (via the GI tract) or parenteral (not via the GI tract, typically intravenous) nutrition support programs to help these patients along their medical journeys. This includes mapping out the nutritional needs of her patients based on their medical condition, developing formulations for them, monitoring them, and making adjustments to their programs throughout their care at Northside.
All of this requires a keen understanding of the science behind metabolism, the mathematical acuity to calculate a patient’s nutritional needs, and above all, a passion for helping others – all of the skills Marlene sought to exercise in a career, long before she knew she wanted to pursue nutrition.
What does Marlene feel has kept her at Northside for this long? In addition to the clinical excellence that Northside is known for, she added that she enjoys having new challenges to face as the face of patient care changes. “You are having to continually up your game in terms of your knowledge base,” she says.
While there are always patients to care for, Marlene hopes to give back at Northside in other ways as a seasoned nutrition support dietitian. As she watches the next generation coming up in the field behind her, she has a passion for mentoring and developing her younger colleagues. Her hope is that by sharing her knowledge and encouragement along the way, Northside’s nutrition support staff will have the greatest opportunity to succeed, thus carrying on the legacy of excellent patient care that Northside is known for.
Or In her own words, “If you want some of the best, you need to give back and help others along.”
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