Registered Dietitian Spotlight: Nina Crowley, MS, RD, LD, Bariatric Surgery
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on MAY 21, 2013
Amazing advice from Nina Crowley on how you can get involved in finding your dream dietetic career. Nina works with bariatric patients, manages social media outlets, and is completing her dissertation! Talk about a pro-active, energetic, and passionate RD! – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
Since high school, I have always been interested in not only the nutrition information and science of human nutrition, but the ‘why’ behind behavior. I was torn between science and psychology, and during my undergraduate years at Cornell, I looked for ways to apply the science I was learning in class to real people.
Combining nutrition and psychology has clicked for me in motivational interviewing and counseling bariatric patients for behavior change. I enjoy taking nutrition knowledge and helping patients figure out how it works in the context of their life.
Your Job Title?
Bariatric Surgery Outpatient Dietitian
Company you are with now?
I currently work for Sodexo at the Medical University of South Carolina Bariatric Surgery Program.
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I have a great deal of contact with our patients before, during, and after they have weight loss surgery. I work closely with a team of surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, psychologists, a program coordinator and another dietitian.
After my morning routine of Starbucks and downloading ideas with my office mate, I enjoy a combination of patient care, administrative work, and projects. In addition to seeing patients in a busy GI Surgery outpatient clinic three days a week, I conduct initial assessments over the phone, review nutrition lab work and manage vitamin/mineral supplements, teach pre and post-op nutrition classes, lead grocery store tours, and create special classes like ‘bariatric bootcamp’. In between, I enjoy creating new education materials and newsletters, facilitating support group, managing our website and facebook page, and coordinating a longitudinal prospective research study on health behaviors after surgery. Somewhere between work and bedtime, I work on answering emails and coordinating SC Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics committees; this year I am serving as President! Oh and procrastinating writing my dissertation!
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
After my internship at Stony Brook on Long Island and working as a WIC nutritionist (and at a restaurant), my husband and I wanted to move down south (aka not work 2 jobs and own a house!). We landed in Charleston at the Medical University of South Carolina, and I love it! I started in an inpatient position but found myself gravitating to teaching education classes whenever possible, so when a position came open with the bariatric program, I found my calling!
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I have always been a textbook ESFJ, which spills out into my counseling style and the way I work with patients. Patients consider me to be approachable and comfortable to open up to and I pride myself on being open and honest with both patients and co-workers. Being efficient and managing multiple priorities has become one of my better qualities in my current work environment, and I have become expert at managing office responsibilities and responding to patients while making time for projects, research, and counseling time in our clinic. My ability to manage and prioritize has helped me in my current pursuit of a PhD in Health Psychology while I continue to strive to balance my work, school, and personal life.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Don’t be afraid to explore all types of opportunities as you find your niche in dietetics. Say ‘yes’ to things outside your comfort zone and meet people! I have met the most remarkable dietitians while volunteering for our local and state dietetic associations, attending conferences, and networking with people who “just look like RDs” wherever I am!
Get involved with your district, state, or national Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or in your area of interest with DPGs or in your particular field/specialty. I am so impressed with all that people accomplish; it makes me want to work harder!
Connect people who you think would get along or help each other in some way, and walk away! Something I learned at the ADA Leadership Institute, and it works!
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
It would be nice to be paid with trips to Italy or with Puggle puppies!