Karla Moreno, MDA, RD
Karla came across a tweet sharing the "What RDs Do" interview series and loved the idea of sharing this with the public and showcasing the diversity of our field. She works in a career where quality of life, nutritional value, and food safety all play a role. Karla also blogs and I of course love the name, Nutritious Vida, since I too have nutritious (nutrishus) in my brand. She has a unique Master's Degree and discovered clinical nutrition was her path by first experiencing a different area of dietetics (because we know there are many - we're not just handing out meal plans and putting people on diets!).
Why did you become a RD?
During my undergraduate studies, I was studying pre-medicine with the intention to go into medical school. As one of my elective courses, I took a sports nutrition science class and from that point on I was hooked on the subject matter of nutrition! I researched careers in nutrition and realized that becoming a Registered Dietitian was something I wanted to do.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
I currently work in long term care and foodservice management. I oversee both the clinical side and foodservice systems of skilled nursing homes.
How would you explain what you do?
On the clinical side, my main role is to assess the nutritional status of our residents and implement interventions that are aligned with the resident’s wishes to help meet their individual nutritional needs. This means I assess their diet order, meal and fluid intake, weight status, medications, lab values, past medical history, skin integrity, and eating habits to help me identify how I can best meet resident’s quality of life with nutrition.
On the foodservice side, I conduct quality assurance and audits to help facilities meet both state and federal regulations. This ensures that our residents receive meals that are nutritious and are prepared in a safe and sanitary manner.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
On a typical day, I see residents and perform initial/quarterly or annual assessments. This is perhaps my favorite part of the day because I love talking to the residents and assist with feeding during their meal times. I also participate in interdisciplinary meetings, collaborate with the kitchen manager to plan a week’s menu, and perform an audit for quality assurance.
What has been your career path?
My first job as a Registered Dietitian was with a school meal vendor. I realized that this path wasn’t the right path for me. It was clinical dietetics that was more of a calling to me, and so I accepted a job as a consultant dietitian for skilled nursing homes to gain experience. Since then, I have worked in skilled nursing homes and always find that there is something new to learn or expand on.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
I received my Master of Dietetic Administration from the Utah State University to further my education. This has really enabled me to hone my managerial and leadership skills within the field of dietetics. I am also certified as a ServSafe® Food Protection Manager.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Five years from now, in my ideal world the field of nutrition would recognize and respect Registered Dietitians as the leading experts in food and nutrition science. In addition, RDs would be paid a much higher salary and insurance companies would pay for more nutrition services to those who need the assistance of a nutrition expert.
What would you like people to know about RDs?
You don’t ever have to justify to an RD about what or why you’re eating a particular food item or beverage. We will never judge!
What do people think that you do for a living?
Many people think I do meal plans and help others lose weight. Although there are skilled RDs who do this for a living in a particular setting, not all RDs do this as their primary job.
What is your favourite meal?
This is a tough one. My favorite meal of the day is dinner. I love to cook every meal for us and have a variety of cuisines throughout the week. One of my favorites lately has been Thai food. As a vegan, this cuisine offers many different and delicious plant-based recipes.
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
If you’re looking for any nutritional information or advice, make sure that what you’re reading comes from a reputable source. Look for the authors credentials to see if they have a ‘RD’ and ensure that the information is derived from scientific research – not an opinion.
More about Karla:
Website/Blog: Nutritious Vida