Aaron Grobengieser, R.D.

Initiative and work ethic are the keys to Aaron Grobengieser's success.

Details

Supervisory Dietitian, VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Nashville, TN
Age: 29
Education: B.S. and a master’s in family and consumer sciences from Eastern Illinois University
Years at organization: 5

Why Selected?

Patricia Brown, R.D., chief, nutrition and food services, says: Aaron has truly set himself apart from other dietitians under the age of 30. Through his initiative and work ethic he has attained a level of authority and responsibility in the VA that usually takes more than two decades of service to achieve. 

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

We improved inpatient satisfaction scores by about 20% in my first six months on the job. We also have an employee survey every year. Upon getting here the employees had only responded at a little more than 10%. This year we had a rate of 93%. 

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

I’m good with computers. I run the national SharePoint, an online communication network for all the VA nutrition and food services chiefs across the nation. Also, networking. Other chiefs across the country really respond when you ask them questions because they want to help those of us just learning. 

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

The VA is a unionized entity. Being in management at this age, it really took a long time to find an effective way to deal with some of the stress when you’re dealing with a department that goes through big transitions. In my first year as a manager (while at the VA Medical Centers in Fort Wayne and Marion, Ind.), I was asked to decrease the budget by about 10% with a 10% staffing decrease. Those two issues combined really made for a tough year. 

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Watching the dietitians that I’ve either coached or supervised succeed and move up in the organization. 

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I want to improve our inpatient satisfaction scores by another 20% and improve employee satisfaction by 10%. 

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

Sometimes we inspect residential care homes that are affiliated with the VA. I was inspecting one place and this director’s refrigerator had gone out. She had bacon grease in there and I told her she had to throw it out. I thought she was going to throw me through a window. Everyone who was with me on that team still gives me a hard time about it.

Under 30