Susan Diniz, Registered Dietitian
After 8 years at Bacharach as a registered dietetic technician, we are pleased to announce that as of April 28, Susan Diniz has graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science, making her our second registered dietitian.
While working full time, Sue completed her course work in subjects like nutrition and statistics as well as completing clinical hours in various settings.
The difference between a registered dietetic technician, which requires an Associate’s degree, and a registered dietitian, which requires a Bachelor’s degree, is that a technician works under the supervision of a registered dietitian. A technician can perform a nutritional screen for all patients but must refer all moderate or high rist patients to the registered dietitian.
At Bacharach, every single patient is seen by a registered dietitian, and every patient on Renaissance Pavilion must have a care plan. Upon admission, Sue says that “I ask the patient how they have been eating, and if they answer not well, we figure out when did that start. If the patient has been in bed for a while and not moving around, and they are losing muscle mass, I explain the importance of protein for healing and ask if the patient is willing to take a supplement like Ensure.
“Trauma patients, even young ones, may need protein supplements. They have lost weight and muscle mass and need to be able to participate in therapy.”
“We see people with many different food allergies, like one woman allergic to corn and soy who had to eat only organic food. When people have a corn allergy, it is especially difficult for our cooks because there is corn syrup in so many products on the market today.”
“When it comes to allergies, we’ve got gluten free down pat now. And lactose allergies – although we still get people who say they are lactose free but order milk and ice cream on their menus!”
Registered dietitians work closely with the speech department when speech therapists identify deficits in swallowing or chewing due to stroke, brain injury or other conditions. The speech therapist may recommend thickened liquids to avoid the dangers of aspirating while drinking fluids. Similarly, a mechanical soft diet may be ordered, which means that the patient’s food has already been chopped or cut to assist with any chewing or swallowing difficulties. This helps the patient meet their nutritional needs.
Therapeutic diets include a heart healthy diet, low sodium diet, carbohydrate-controlling diet (for diabetics) and a regular diet.
Sue says the benefits of being a registered dietitian are many. “I feel like a complete and independent part of the team now, with no limitations as to what I can offer to our team.”
Does Sue have advice for someone considering a career as a Registered Dietitian? “Go straight through! Earn the degree all at once!” Sue took advantage of the tuition reimbursement program here to help her pay for her studies.
Asked why her job is so fulfilling, Sue says, “When you feel like you have helped someone, it is so rewarding. It is nice to see my patients when they want to eat.”