Kimberly Hyatt, RD, LDN graduated with a dual degree from IUP in 2007 with a BA in psychology, honors and a BS in Nutrition/ Dietetics. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in public health practice from the University of Massachusetts.

Kimberly Hyatt, RD, LDNWhat is Kimberly's Current Position?

Kimberly is the bariatric program coordinator for the Nanticoke Weight Loss and General Surgery, located in Seaford, Delaware. This practice is associated with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. She has held this position as coordinator for the last two and a half years. Prior to this, Kimberly had worked in long-term care, community nutrition, and critical care.

What are the Challenges Associated With Kimberly's Position as Bariatric Program Coordinator?

The bariatric program is located in a lower socioeconomic area with the highest rates of obesity in the state of Delaware. The program has both medical weight loss and surgical weight loss options. Pediatric patients are accepted into the medical weight loss program and are seen exclusively by the dietitian. Kimberly is fortunate enough to work with all types of patients that come to the clinic. It is a challenging position that requires her to be strong in both clinical skill and behavioral counseling. She says that there is still a stigma around bariatric surgery, but it is well-recognized as the strongest treatment option for obesity. It requires a lifelong dedication by the patient to be successful. A patient's quality of life can be restored as soon as the day after surgery. Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and certain GI disorders can improve with bariatric surgery. Obesity was once thought of as a condition that occurs when someone consumes more energy than they expend. Medical experts recognize now that obesity is chronic and progressive in nature and involves complex hormonal and metabolic pathways. The treatment of nutrition related disorders is always evolving and changing.

What Does Kimberly Enjoy Most About Her Job?

The best part of her job is watching a patient who has struggled to maintain a healthy weight reap the health benefits of their weight reduction. She is lucky enough to witness patients participate in a life that they have been absent from due to the restrictions that their weight has placed on them. Even with a relatively small amount of weight loss, patients are able to partake in daily activities that were previously limited. Moreover, mental health often improves with patients as well, as the stigma of obesity fades away. From the psychological support to the hormonal and metabolic imbalances that affect obesity, the field of bariatrics is extremely complex, but equally rewarding.

How Has Kimberly's IUP Education Benefited Her Career as a Bariatric Dietitian?

Her time at IUP was invaluable in terms of education and networking with others in the field. She decided to combine nutrition and psychology in order to explore human behavior as well as human physiology and nutrition. IUP is a wonderful institution that provided her with an excellent curriculum as well as post-graduate opportunities. The relationships and networking that she developed during her undergraduate degrees were extremely beneficial after graduation as she began to pursue a career in nutrition.

What is Kimberly's Advice to Prospective and Current IUP Food and Nutrition Students?

She recommends that all students pursuing a career in nutrition/dietetics acquire working experience in the field prior to starting their dietetic internship or advanced degrees. Kimberly had taken two years immediately after graduation to teach nutrition in the School District of Philadelphia prior to applying to an internship. She says that this hands-on experience was extremely beneficial to her. Not only did it help her to shape a strong work ethic, but it also refined other skills like social awareness, public speaking, and cultural sensitivity. Teaching in the public schools gave her direction as far as what field she would be interested in after her internship, and she was able to provide concrete working samples during her internship interview.

Kimberly suggests that students choose a geographical area or field of nutrition that is outside of their comfort zone after graduation in order to truly be a well-rounded professional. Always be open to new ideas and schools of thought. The things that she learned in her undergraduate career are not the same things that are widely accepted and practiced today. If you are not willing to grow with the times, then you will stunt yourself professionally.

What Does the Future Hold for Kimberly?

Kimberly hopes, in the near future, to initiate a pediatric and adolescent weight management program into her current program. Obesity medicine is a burgeoning field and requires the care and attention of multiple disciplines. A strong dietitian can bring a great skill set to any area of healthcare.