Dietetic Career Spotlight: Angie Hasemann, RD, Pediatric Dietitian
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MARCH 27, 2012
Meet Angie Hasemann, RD, who creatively works with children showing them fun and entertaining ways to eat more vegetables while inspiring families to gain healthier food habits.
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
The glamour and glitz of the profession. Just kidding… after 3 years of college studying pre-medicine, I realized I had no desire to go to medical school. Caught in that scary place of ‘what will I do now?’, where both my Nutrition and Exercise Science majors seemed to lead to dead-ends, I realized that adding Dietetics as a third major would open so many doors. I saw how RDs were pursuing a huge variety of careers and were really needed in so many ways. I felt inspired and excited about the endless possibilities that having “RD” behind my name would lead me.
Your Job Title?
Resident Food Lady (to my patients) or Clinical Dietitian (on my business card), UVA Children’s Fitness Clinic.
Company you are with now?
Morrison Management Specialists (contracted in to work at the University of Virginia’s Children’s Hospital).
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you.
Most of my days are filled with seeing a circus of patients… the 3 year-old who just wants to eat chicken nuggets and French fries for the rest of her life, the 7 year-old boy who thinks eating a vegetable might be the death of him; the 12 year-old who drinks her entire weight in soda each month and sees no problem with it; the teenager who prefers to eat the entire large pizza by himself and gets angry at his mother if she tries to disagree; and the parents who are either struggling to try to make all of the changes on their own, are lost in the sea of the recommendations of what a ‘good parent’ should be doing, are completely unfamiliar with the topic of nutrition, or who are clueless that their child is even slightly unhealthy. It’s an exhausting job working with obese children and their families in an intense counseling session, but I try my best to make it fun—teaching the 3 year-old to cheer for fruits and flex her muscles when she names a vegetable, after all, they do give her superpowers J; engaging the 7 year-old in a fun game of ‘Fear Factor’, seeing what fun ways we can not only challenge him, but also other family members to try that scary asparagus; showing the 12 year-old the awesome sugar-free drinks out there that she’s never even tried; educating the teenager on how to trick his body into feeling fuller and having more energy from not being weighed down with excess food; and empowering parents to take the lead in creating a healthy lifestyle for their family by being a positive role model.
When I’m not counseling patients, I dabble in media work, guest lecture for many classes and community groups, mentor students, and work on community outreach projects
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
While in my internship, I met the President of my current company. I approached him, introduced myself, and told him I wanted to work for him, preferably in corporate wellness (as the thought of working in a hospital at the time was incredibly unappealing to me). He gave me the name of one of the top RDs in the company, who passed my resume on to a job that was “a perfect fit” in Virginia. I hesitated to okay this move, as the job was described as clinical, but I couldn’t tell her no. Low and behold, she was right. This job was a perfect fit—combining my passion for wellness and my love of working with kids in creative ways—and I’ve been here ever since!
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born with an easily bored personality, which has been a huge help in understanding that kids need fun and entertainment to keep them interested in nutrition education. My creativity is by far my biggest strength in my job. My mom has been known to “try to save the world” in helping others, and having some of that quality has helped me as well. I’ve learned the importance of listening to what people are truly saying (even if it doesn’t come out in the words they speak); patience, patience, patience; and the power of support and praise. One of the most useful skills I’ve learned is the concept of Teflon and Velcro: not every patient is going to have a perfectly delightful experience with you, so when you struggle with a patient who has many barriers or psychological or social problems that interfere with progress, think of that experience as Teflon—let it slide out of your memory; when you have an incredibly productive and motivating visit with a patient, hold on to it like Velcro.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
I always tell students and interns to advertise themselves. No one will ever know where you want to go and what you want to do unless you tell them, and we all know most great opportunities are found through networking. For others already in job positions, I would encourage them to strive to be an innovator in their field.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Gift certificates to clothing stores or plane flights home to see friends and family or hugs.