Dietetic Career Spotlight on Lauren Pendergast, Clinical Dietitian and Blogger
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on APRIL 11, 2016
Meet Lauren Pendergast, RDN, CDN, a clinical dietitian who also has a blog and a strong social media presence. Lauren has found her niche on how to convey her message to the masses while being a dietetic mover and shaker in our field. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
When I visited the University of Delaware as a senior in high school, I attended a presentation by their College of Health Sciences. I was fascinated by how exciting they made the world of nutrition sound! I thought, “I’ve always loved to eat and exercise, why not learn more about how to fuel my body to perform and help others do the same!”
Your Job Title:
Company you are with now:
Other Social Media links you would like to include:
– Twitter: @nutritionlau
– Instagram: @nutritionlau4
– Facebook: www.facebook.com/laurenpendergastnutrition
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you:
Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are my clinical inpatient days. As soon as I arrive at work, I start the screening process to prioritize my workload for the day. After screening, I head up to rounds to discuss the ICU patients with the multidisciplinary team. When rounds are finished, the rest of my day consists of assessing patients, counseling on their diets, charting in the electronic medial records, making recommendations and discussing patient care with many other team members.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my outpatient days. There really isn’t a typical day in outpatient. If I have patients scheduled, I meet with them one-on-one, assess their diets and provide them with education based on their personal goals. Most of my patients are the management or bariatric population; however, I have also counseled individuals with gluten intolerances, diabetes, hypothyroidism, GERD and high cholesterol. Since I work closely with the bariatric team, I counsel bariatric patients before and after their surgery and I am a co-leader at the monthly bariatric support group. In addition to these tasks, I also write nutrition articles for the hospital, create education materials for my patients, teach nutrition classes that are open to the public or attend community events to share information with members of the community.
Each night, after I arrive home, I spend some time on my personal website, publish blogs or social media posts and work on any volunteer projects I’m involved with. I am an active member of SCAN and NE and the GNYDA PR committee and try to give them all as much of my time as possible.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
After graduating from my internship, I accepted a job at Christiana Care Health System, managing a grant for the Affordable Care Act in the state of Delaware and supervising the implementation of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace Guide Program. After a year of gaining an abundance of management experience, I decided it was time to move to a clinical position to allow myself to build a strong nutrition foundation. I applied to a clinical inpatient job with Sodexo, landed an interview and was offered the job. A few months in, someone resigned and I applied for her position – it involved both inpatient and outpatient work and I felt that it would allow me to cultivate my counseling skills and work more with weight management. In the past year and a half, I’ve gained so much knowledge and have truly grown as a nutrition professional.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was absolutely born with an outgoing personality! I feel that this has helped shape me as a professional and is a big part of why I do my job so well. I have the ability to talk to anyone, which really helps when I’m working with multiple patients, their families and many colleagues each day. I have also always been a self-motivated and hardworking person. If I set out to accomplish something, I won’t stop until it’s complete and done to the best of my ability.
I’ve had to learn counseling and presentation skills along the way. Working with patients every day has really helped grow my counseling skills and presenting to groups with individuals from the preschool age to older adults has helped develop my presentation skills. Finally, I was definitely born with some leadership qualities, but being in several different work environments, learning from some really awesome managers and being a manager myself has truly cultivated these skills.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Be excited about what you do and get involved! I would not be where I am today if it were not for my love of healthy food and my willingness to be as involved as possible with different nutrition based organizations and projects. I could talk about food and healthy living all day long, which is helpful when I’m discussing nutrition with patients all day and then come home and spend time blogging, meeting up with fellow dietitians or sharing food photos on social media. I’ve met lifelong friends, amazing colleagues and learned so much more about what my passions are from getting involved. Moving to the Greater New York City area has really forced me to come out of my comfort zone and attend meetings and networking events to meet other like-minded professionals. You’ll find that it’s such a great feeling to meet others who love nutrition and helping others as much as you do, and you never know what it can lead to.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Running shoes, Trader Joes gift cards, hot yoga classes, kitchen appliances and food photography classes!