• By Andrea Barnes
  • In Uncategorized
  • September 8, 2020

September Research Spotlight – Catherine Carter, MS, RDN, LDN

RESEARCH CORNER:

This month our Research Spotlight focuses on Catherine Carter, MS, RDN, LDN who is currently an inpatient dietitian at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA.

Read below to find out more about her journey in nutrition and research.

Where do you live currently? 

I currently reside in Emmaus, PA just three miles outside of Allentown.

Is there anything you love about where you’re located?

The Lehigh Valley as a whole is quite beautiful and has something to offer for everyone: music, art, athletics, shopping, delicious food and beer – what else could you want?? Emmaus is a quaint town that reminds me of the setting of a Hallmark movie during Christmas.  It has some of the best Thai in the valley and an awesome 100-year-old movie theater where I’d often unwind after finishing papers for grad school.

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from Binghamton, NY, and moved to the Lehigh Valley five years ago.

What are you currently working on/researching?

My efforts over the past four years or so have been geared towards malnutrition including pathway development, indicator validation, effectiveness of the physical examination, reimbursement, and reviewing alternative malnutrition tools such as GLIM and ESPEN criteria.  I’m now working with both adult and pediatric teams to review and implement updated malnutrition pathways to promote accurate documentation, nutrition-focused physical examination, and proper intervention and follow up for patients.

Where did you go to school? College, internship, etc.

I completed my undergraduate degree in nutrition at Marywood University (Scranton, PA) where I was able to complete my internship as part of their coordinated program.  I interned at several different sites throughout the area and was given the opportunity to travel to duPont Hospital for Children where I discovered my passion for pediatrics.  I also completed my master’s degree in nutrition with Central Michigan University’s Global Campus program in October 2019 where I spent nearly three years studying adult malnutrition, nutrition-focused physical examination, and the relationship between handgrip strength and respiratory muscle strength.  

What did you want to do after your studies were completed?

After completing my undergraduate degree and internship, I knew my goal was to become a pediatric inpatient dietitian.  After providing temporary coverage at an LTC facility, I was given the opportunity to join the team at Lehigh Valley Hospital and train further in pediatric and neonatal dietetics.  Fast forward to the present and I’ve been the general pediatric dietitian for two years.

Have you published anything professionally?

I am currently in the process of publishing my recent work with adult malnutrition, but this work will also be featured in two posters during the FNCE virtual poster session on October 18th.  I’m excited that FNCE is still offering this opportunity.

How do you feel that your work in research has helped in application to real people?

During the three years that I spent studying malnutrition, I felt incredibly motivated by my patients’ stories and experiences.  As dietitians, we read the research and attend the CEU sessions, but I had the opportunity to strip away the statistics and terminology.  Meeting actual people who are suffering from the effects of malnutrition brought a sense of urgency and passion behind the work.  The time I spent with each of my participants inspired me to keep moving forward to be able to tell their stories, especially for the 29% of my population who passed away during data collection.  I hope that the continued research and advocacy – despite Medicare’s stance on reimbursement – will help us to prevent and alleviate the burden of malnutrition on our patients.

Why did you decide to focus on nutrition as a career?

What amazes me the most about nutrition is that it is as universal as music and religion.  Our eating habits are impacted by our culture, experiences, beliefs, and numerous other factors, medical status being one of them.  Being a dietitian is almost like a ministry and being able to connect with people regarding something so personal and impactful during a time of vulnerability was exceptionally appealing to me.

How do you like to spend your free time?

The pandemic has been a blessing for me in that I’ve been truly forced at times to rest which is something I struggled with pre-COVID.  I’ve been spending a lot of time trying new recipes, reading books, journaling, and getting more of a chance to chat with friends and family.  My goal is to bring this into my “new normal” and to avoid the manic pace I was keeping before.

What is your favorite food? 

I recently learned how to make homemade pasta and because I love carbs so much, it doesn’t get much better than fresh pasta with chicken, broccoli, oil, and lots of garlic.

Is there anything people would be shocked you like or hate?

Something that surprises people is that I am also an actress/singer.  I performed through high school and college and founded an amateur theatre company with my friends in Binghamton.  After COVID is over, I’ll be making my Lehigh Valley debut as Cinderella with a local company.