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Making a Difference: Mary Litchford, PhD, RDN, LDN, February 2016

Mary Litchford Webinar Speaker

What is your mission/vision?

The mission of my professional career in dietetics and of my company, CASE Software & Books, is to reignite RDNs original passion for medical knowledge, to think beyond their current level of practice, and update their clinical practices accordingly. The scientific literature is filled with new findings, clinical practice guidelines, health care-related government technical reports, and consensus guidelines. Nutrition plays a role in many of these guidelines. My mission is to shape the future of clinical practice by teaching RDNs be proactive to ‘connect the dots’ between new findings in the medical literature and current clinical practice. Moreover, I want to challenge RDNs get out of their ‘comfort zone of current clinical practice’ to demonstrate his/her value to the medical team.

Making a difference in the lives of older adults.

Two areas that I am passionate about in my professional speaking and writing are Laboratory Assessment of Nutritional Status and Nutrition Focused Physical Assessment. Think about what you learned in school on these two topics. Think about what you are currently doing to integrate this body of literature into your in clinical practice.

The focus of my work as an author, speaker and clinician is to take a global look at the current medical literature to identify ways in which nutrition assessment and medical nutrition therapy intersect. In addition, I identify applicable components to incorporate into the practice of prevention and treatment of nutrition-related medical conditions.

While the primary focus of my career is on speaking and writing, I also work part-time as a clinician in a retirement community that provides different levels of care, i.e. rehabilitation unit, and long term care for dementia and skilled level residents. Having hands-on contact with residents, family members, and medical team members in a health care setting keeps me grounded in what is realistic for an RDN to do in a healthcare setting. It gives me the opportunity to practice the things I’m teaching others to do as a valuable member of the healthcare team. It also gives me a glimpse of the potential pitfalls on the road to changing ‘the way we have always done things.’

What inspires you to continue your mission/vision?

I am inspired to pursue my mission of ‘raising the bar’ of the practice of dietetics because I know that one day my loved ones (not to mention myself) will be the ‘sick person’ in the hospital or ‘old person’ in the nursing home. I want up-and-coming professional to be engaged in clinical practice looking for ways to be leaders on the medical team. We will not achieve this goal practicing with a 20th century model.

What advice would you give to other RDNs who are trying to make a difference for older adults?

Every time you visit a resident or patient, visualize your face on their body! Take a moment and think…How do I want to be treated by the RDN? Am I expecting an engaged professional who takes a global look at all the components of a nutrition assessment? Am I expecting a RDN who is familiar with the latest clinical practice guidelines and uses these in practice?

My goal is to use all the clinical tools available to me to provide the highest level of care for each resident. Strive to connect with family members to ensure that they know how hard you are working to improve the quality of life of their loved one.

What one tip would you give nutrition care professionals that work with older adults?

It is never too late in your career to learn something new! Lifelong learning keeps your mind sharp and energized. We bring value to the lives of older adults by advancing our clinical expertise to improve the quality of their lives.

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