March 2017 Member Spotlight

As the current LVDA district president, Andrea Barnes, MS, RD, CSG, LDN, FAND is challenged with finding new ways to increase member retention and engagement while ensuring that the objectives and strategic plan of the district are successfully carried out. A member of AND and PAND since 2005, it was not until 2013 that Andrea decided to take on a leadership position with the LVDA district as the organization’s Nominating Chair-Elect, moving into the position of Nominating Chair in 2014. Since becoming involved as a leader, Andrea has worked with the district to focus on ways to be more modern; they have implemented a new website with online tools and registration and have redesigned the layout of their quarterly newsletter. In the future when she is the Immediate Past President, Andrea hopes to develop a greater social media presence for the district.

During her more than 10 years with AND and PAND, Andrea has experienced many benefits from her memberships. Andrea reflects, “the biggest benefits of being an AND and PAND member are having the support of those professional organizations behind us as RDs and RDNs – whether it’s in regards to practice or education, the AND and PAND provide the backbone and also offer the resources to build on our profession”. Andrea further feels that her memberships have enable her to learn valuable leadership techniques and have strengthened her clinical skills. Andrea also enjoys going to the conferences/expos as they have helped her gain knowledge and CEUs as well as provided her with opportunities to network with other nutrition professionals. Additionally, Andrea a member of the Clinical Nutrition Management, Dietetics in Health Care communities, and Dietitians in Business and Communications DPGs.

Andrea’s interest in nutrition originates from her 20 plus years as a ballet dancer where she watched her peers struggle with eating disorders. Andrea received her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science with a concentration in Gender Studies from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA. She then completed an internship through the University of Delaware. During her time in school, Andrea educated seniors on healthy eating and portion sizes, provided cooking demonstrations, taught preschools and elementary-aged children, and counseled teenagers through an online volunteer program. Andrea also helped write a grant for Cedar Crest College that allowed nutrition students to continue to provide nutrition education to the surrounding community.  It was through these experiences that Andrea gained a passion for working with the geriatric population and improving their quality of life. Andrea has also completed her master’s in Clinical Nutrition through the New York Institute of Technology and is working on completing her doctorate in Health Administration, with a focus on Health Care Quality and Analytics.

In addition to being the LVDA district president, Andrea works for Cura Hospitality as the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Phoebe Allentown Healthcare Center, a role she has held for the last 9 years. Within this role, Andrea works to provide a patient-centered clinical nutrition program that also promotes better outcomes in memory support, LTC, and short-term rehab. In this position, Andrea reveals, “I am dedicated to fostering team engagement, while striving to keep the clinical team compliant and on top of emerging trends, and promoting the use of best practices”. Part of Andrea’s job includes participating in task forces and projects that aligned with the company’s strategic plan. Recently, Andrea recently led a task force that worked to implement clinical protocols and policies regarding insulin management. Aside from her management duties, Andrea performs nutrition focused physical examines, assesses the nutrition status of residents, and provides nutrition education to residents and their families. Through her work in dementia care, Andrea has received several awards. She has also been awarded the distinction of Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Andrea grew up in an Italian-American family “where food and family were synonymous”. As a child, she was not very adventurous with foods, but this is something Andrea is hoping to change with her children. As a family, Andrea and her husband try to introduce their children to as many foods as possible while also focusing on the culture behind the food. Andrea’s family tends a large vegetable and herb garden and participates in Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), both of which have been rewarding experiences.  As she regularly experiments with new flavors and cultures, Andrea does not have one single favorite food, but certain foods that she can tie to great memories. Andrea aims to maintain a diet that is rich in whole and locally sourced foods, avoiding foods that are overly processed as much as possible. One of Andrea’s struggles as a busy nutrition professional is to keep herself hydrated, stating “I often keep a full water bottle with me at my desk, but I’m horrible at actually drinking it”. Luckily for Andrea, she has supportive co-workers who will play water “drinking games” with her at work to keep her properly hydrated.

Regarding the future of our profession, Andrea has great hopes for the impact we can have in the healthcare field. Andrea expresses, “I would love to see more acknowledgement and recognition for the path to becoming a registered dietitian, the overall role of the RD and the significant part we play in preventing and managing chronic disease. I’d like to see dietitians in executive positions at the healthcare facility level, and in federal government positions, helping to shape our nation’s healthcare.”