Spotlight on: Michele Keeling, PDt.
Michele is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and she completed her internship at the General Hospital in St.John’s, NL. She has had the pleasure of working in long term care for 26 years and has been a preceptor for dietetic interns for the past 17 years. Michele enjoys the challenges and rewards of working with residents with dementia, swallowing disorders and frailty and she strives to provide a pleasurable dining experience for all!
-Program Planning and Evaluation
What has been your favourite experience as a dietitian?
I am so fortunate to have chosen a profession that is challenging, rewarding and always evolving. This makes it difficult for me to choose one favorite experience but I would have to say that being a preceptor tops my list! In 2012, it was a great personal honor to be asked to participate as a member of the coordinating committee “Collaborating for Enhanced Dietetic Education Atlantic (CEDEA) as a preceptor and our journey continues today! Working side by side with dietetic interns invigorates my passion for dietetics and helps keep my practice current. My proudest moment is when I see interns apply their knowledge and reach that “Ah hah” moment of achieving a competency, demonstrating professionalism and confidence as a member of the care team and recognizing the importance of the role of the dietitian in long term care. Some even choose to follow my path!
What is the most frustration thing about being in the nutrition profession?
I think I share the same frustrations as other dietitians related to the fact there are many “nutritionists” marketing their “expertise” without the science background and training that we achieve and maintain. I recently participated in the Brand Insiders’ Conversation/Survey that will help define our role as dietitians and build our brand. I believe we need to be able to successfully market ourselves as the nutrition & food expert and educate the public on what we can offer to fulfill DC’s vision of advancing health through food and nutrition for our clients and the health of our communities.
Is your current position something you've always imagined yourself doing, or far from it?
Yes...and no! When I first started working in long term care, our role was not what it is today! The nursing department were in charge of resident care and they would “consult” with us for therapeutic diets, usually “diabetic diets”, low sodium diets and constipation. We also conducted tray audits and nutrition assessments. I didn’t think I would stay in this role for 26 years!! Fortunately, I was able to network with other dietitians and together, we gradually began to formalize our role, develop and share resources and tools and build credibility along the way. Several years ago, we met as a group of long term care dietitians in Nova Scotia to begin the conversation of working together to develop standards and guidelines for our practice. Finally, in September 2015, the Nova Scotia Dietitians Continuing Care Action Group was established after much perseverance and dedication of a great group of dietitians “on the mainland”. For fear of forgetting anyone, I extend my sincere thanks and I am happy to participate in this group.
What is your most memorable meal?
My husband and I now have an empty nest so I have to say my most memorable meal is when we are lucky enough to have both our sons and daughter-in-law sitting around our dinner table sharing a meal of seafood chowder, fresh biscuits from the oven and a glass of Luckett’s Phone box white wine on their first night home...this has become a tradition in our family!
If you had to eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would have to pick yogurt because I have eaten it pretty much every day since the late 80’s! I love trying the wide selection available...my favorite right now is the Skyr brand topped with fresh blueberries and crumpled ginger snaps...just a tablespoon...I often serve a version of this, in martini glasses, to my dinner guests...always promoting healthy choices!!
Is there any food or nutrition related book or documentary that really changed the way you think about what you eat?
A few years ago I had the honor of preceptoring a dietetic intern who is a CanFit Pro Trainer. She inspired me to evaluate my food choices and introduced me to “clean eating” and focusing on healthy food, healthy lifestyle. I was just beginning menopause and she was brave enough to offer some suggestions to improve my energy level and ensure I was making the healthiest food choices possible. I also refer regularly to “The Diet Fix, Why Diets Fail and How to make Yours Work” by Yoni Freedhoff, MD. I love his no-nonsense approach to separating fact from fiction and his 10 day plan to reset your diet provides an approach to help change a person’s relationship to food focusing on healthy food and activity. Worth a read!