Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I loved the nutrition field. Disease process and how diet could affect it fascinated me. I also had 5 little children at home and knew that I needed a career that would lead me to a better salary.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I oversee the dietary department, assist with assessments and care plans, participate in Interdisciplinary Team Meetings for skin issues, weight loss, falls, and behaviors. I am responsible for inventory, ordering, scheduling, and quality assurance audits. I assist in writing menus twice a year.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I have certain responsibilities scheduled for specific days and times. There are times that I must adjust my schedule due to unseen issues that arise.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
We have a high-functioning special needs unit. I implemented family-style dining to improve oral intake and allow choices. The first step was to make sure we had the equipment that was needed. Then I educated dietary and nursing staff on specialized diets and portion control. Patients are able to make their choices at each meal with the assistance of staff to dip and serve the food due to sanitation control. We have seen better intake, increased participation with meals, and more conversing between our patients and staff members. We also do not worry about food temperatures by using a heated cart to transport and maintain food temps.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
A waitress, then in healthcare I hired on as a dishwasher/tray aide.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
Kimberly Ledden RD, CD. She encouraged us to learn all that we could. She mentored me through the dietary managers course. She was so smart and inspirational. She is now a diabetic educator, which was her passion.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Staffing has to be the biggest challenge in the industry. Finding the right person with the love of foodservice is not an easy task. I try to bring opportunities for advancement to my staff. Encourage them to excel and learn new things, just as I was encouraged.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The patients, I love talking with them. We share stories and recipes. Food is a universal connection.
I was even fortunate enough to be the President of the Indiana Dietary Managers Association for a term. What a great experience.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
Continuing education through the University of North Dakota, US Foods magazines and sales reps, Food Service Director Magazine and other various ways.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
I see it turning more and more toward patient-based choices. I see more restaurant-style dining that offers flexible hours and a large variety of different foods.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Stay up to date on the latest trends, and equipment that is available. Honor patient choices, and always treat your staff and patients with the utmost respect.