Pamela Higgins, R.D., administrative section chief of nutrition and foodservices, says: Carlen excels in working with and motivating others. Carlen works effectively with her team to highlight areas for improvement and works diligently to find innovative approaches to correct deficiencies. She demonstrates a maturity beyond her years in her ability to lead her team effectively and calmly, despite the everyday calamities of foodservice life.
My favorite projects are those that significantly improve hospital processes, enhance patient care and involve multiple stakeholders. One great example was our transition from a legacy software system to our current, patient-centered Hospitality Suite software. I’ve had the pleasure of not only participating in the roll out but also conducting ongoing training sessions with inpatient staff to increase their comfort with the system and in turn maximize patient satisfaction.
I believe my relative youth gives me energy and motivation, as well as a fresh perspective on the field of dietetics. As a new dietitian, I do my best to constantly learn from scientific research and current best practices for our field.
Don’t choose a career based on the opportunity for personal gain or material reward–choose a path that will provide fulfillment and the opportunity to do work that makes you happy. If you follow such a trajectory, the other aspects will come to you in time.
I was very happy when I concluded my master’s degree while working in a clinical setting. I completed my M.S. while employed at another acute-care hospital, and I transitioned to the VA during my graduate studies. The workload was tremendous, but in hindsight I showed myself that I can handle far more than I would have guessed before successfully completing that effort.
I love working at the VA and with our veteran population. The opportunity to serve those who have given so much for our country is truly an honor.
I want to continue on the path of dietetics with a focus on management. I’d also like to gain clinical experience in an inpatient position to better understand the needs of my patients. Overall, I want to constantly strive to be the most well-rounded dietitian I can be. By always looking at the big picture and keeping my clinical knowledge current, I am confident I’ll be able to grow professionally in the coming years.
On the first day of my job as office coordinator, our diet office software crashed. It was obviously resolved, but in the moment it was stressful for a lot of people, including me.