Built For Change: Q&A with Registered Dietitian, Kate Numer, MPS, RDN, LDN
A day in the life as a dietitian at ConnectCare3 usually varies, but my priority is our clients.
Kate Numer, MPS, RDN, LDN
I completed my undergraduate work at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Following this, I continued my pursuit of becoming a dietitian through an internship at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Recently, I completed my Master’s degree through Penn State. Prior to joining ConnectCare in 2021, I spent several years working for UPMC.
As a ConnectCare3 Registered Dietitian, can you describe some of your key responsibilities?
A day in the life as a dietitian at ConnectCare3 usually varies, but my priority is our clients. Whether it is connecting for a phone call, checking out food logs, creating resources, or researching recipes and nutrition topics, a good portion of my day is supporting the goals and lifestyle changes of my clients! I am passionate about being creative and providing education, so a day might also consist of researching or creating information for wellness webinars, education sessions, or other needs that arise for our clients and our groups. Of course, there are also snack breaks and chats about the best places to go for food or recipes to try among my coworkers as well (all in a dietitian’s workday).
Nutrition Education and the topic of “change” are very interconnected. Can you share more about how you’re able to educate your clients on why change is something they shouldn’t fear?
When my clients express fear or hesitation regarding change I like to dive deeper and talk through some of their thoughts and beliefs. Understanding where their fear is rooted is a great first step. Some of my clients express a fear of failure, some might fear the unknown or need education, or maybe the fear is about judgment or change in routine. The fears really vary. Something I often educate my clients on is that we are quite literally built for change. Our brains are built to adapt and survive which gives us many natural abilities to embrace change. Of course, we need to create a good environment for change both in our mindset and our surroundings. I encourage clients to build their support system, gain education and resources, and embrace the whole change process. Another approach is to educate clients on the change process and how to strengthen and build lasting habits. The process of change starts way before the actual action of change! I also encourage my clients to reflect on and share their motivators and goals. However, just because we have a level of motivation or desire to change does not always mean that we are ready to change right away. It really is a process and one that I love to help people work through.
With the popularity of fad diets and other unhealthy nutrition trends, it must be challenging for some people to change their way of thinking related to health or weight loss. How do you approach this?
It can often feel like “everyone” is a nutrition professional these days with so much information and varying viewpoints of popular nutrition topics and it can feel overwhelming. I get questions on these topics often. One thing I do believe is that even though not everyone is a nutrition professional, everyone is the professional of themselves. What I mean by that is nutrition and food are very personal and individualized. When people come to me with questions and information regarding fad diets or a controversial nutrition topic, I like to approach it by listening and having a conversation. It can be challenging for someone to open up and ask questions, so I am always willing to take the time to have a discussion with someone and acknowledge their interest. I always make sure that my answers are evidence-based while also trying to incorporate the person’s personal preference, needs, and health history. We may have a discussion and work through education, encourage the person to watch a webinar, or share additional resources and handouts regarding the topics of interest. As a dietitian, I find it important to encourage a positive relationship with food while working with them to meet their individual preferences and health goals.
Do you have a success story that you can share?
When I think of the change process, I am reminded of a client that reached out to ConnectCare3 in hopes of preventing a diabetes diagnosis. Her blood work was borderline for diabetes, and her family history put her at a greater risk of developing diabetes. She was connected with one of our nurses for education about diabetes. She then continued to work with a health coach on lifestyle health habits and with me as well for nutrition education and counseling. Over a period of time, she was able to make gradual changes and learn new things she was not aware of related to pre-diabetes and diabetes. After several months she saw improvement in her blood sugar and reduced her risk of developing diabetes. When I worked with this client she was surprised to see how her small changes made an impact in the long term. She continues to use her knowledge and mindset with the change process as a way to continue her health journey. Reflecting on her time working with us it was evident how building a support system and using her resources was beneficial to her goals. She showed resilience and self-awareness through the change process! Although her journey was not without barriers, she had built a foundation that allowed her to continue focusing on her health and wellness goals.
What do you like most about ConnectCare3?
One of the things that stood out to me when I started working at ConnectCare3 was the access that our clients had to various health care professionals. My background before ConnectCare3 really opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone has access to a dietitian or other health services. My clients that did have health insurance coverage for a dietitian might only get a handful of visits a year through their health insurance. I was so excited when I realized that my clients would have better access to a dietitian and other health professionals when I started working at ConnectCare3. This allows for a more individualized approach that is conducive to education and behavior change. If I have learned anything about change it’s that it can take time, education, support, accountability, and follow-up. This is supported by the mission of ConnectCare3 as well as the team.
My other favorite things about ConnectCare3 are the many opportunities to be creative, share ideas, and collaborate with a great team. This has a lot to do with the culture but also the great team that I work with every day. I feel fortunate that I have found such a wonderful team and company to grow and learn with each day!