To commemorate National Nutrition Month, March, we interviewed Courtney Sahn, (one of the Berrie Center’s five certified dietitians/diabetes educators) about her chosen vocation. A 2006 graduate of Hunter College with a degree in Nutrition and Food Science, Courtney has a passion for food and children, a winning combination for her job on the pediatric diabetes team at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. Here’s what she had to say:
Is there a difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist?
To become a dietitian you have to complete a clinical internship. Some internships last six months, some last a year and they are typically in a hospital. Then you have to pass the registered dietitian exam. A registered dietitian is an accredited position.
What are your goals as an RD, CDE?
To give patients, family members and care takers the confidence and skills that they need to manage diabetes in their everyday lives by providing comprehensive assessment, reassessment, care planning, and education.
How did you get interested in diabetes?
I did my clinical internship at NY Presbyterian and we had an elective week where we got to choose any disease that we wanted to explore. I chose diabetes, and I was able to come to the Berrie Center and shadow with dietitians here. I fell in love with it. But there were no jobs at the Berrie Center for 7 years! Then one day I saw an opening on the pediatric team and applied.
What made you become a dietitian?
I love food. I love everything about it. I love to cook, I love to bake, I love to eat. I just enjoy working with, and talking about, food. I especially like that it’s kind of a preventative medicine. If you are eating healthfully, if you’re getting a balance of everything you need—then you’re replenishing your body on a daily basis.
I was also athletic growing up. I went to a nutritionist when I was 15 just to make sure that I was really a healthy person. Seeing a nutritionist really led to my career choice. I felt I had found an occupation that I could do well and enjoy doing it.
You became a certified diabetes educator six months ago. Congratulations! What made you become a CDE?
I love the Berrie Center. I spent three days here on an internship and thought it was fantastic and wanted to be a part of it. Once I started working here, a year and a half ago, I knew I wanted to become a CDE to better help the patients and families who come to the Berrie Center.
What’s the best part about the job?
I really love the population that I work with. I love pediatrics. Also, when I was an inpatient dietitian, I met with a patient only once or twice, and that was it. Now, I’m able to develop a rapport with patients seeing them multiple times a year. It’s nice to have that relationship and work continuously with somebody and be able to see the impact that you’re having. My favorite parts of the year include participating in our Winter Fun and Summer Fun Programs. I am camper at heart! It’s also an exciting time to be working in diabetes because of all the technology coming out.
You mentioned you love to bake…
I started a baking company out of my parent’s kitchen when I was a teenager. I love to create recipes, cookies, pies, cakes, everything. I used to have a lot of Thanksgiving orders and I did a lot of Sunday brunches. Now, as much as I’d love to cook all the time, I’m living in Manhattan and my kitchen is not conducive.
I have a niece and a nephew, 7-year-old twins, and a few years ago, I started “baking-sitting” because the word “babysitting” wasn’t appropriate any more. I love doing food science with them. They get to see and taste each ingredient before it goes into the mix, so they can see how various foods really affect the finished product. I ‘baking-sit’ once a week or once every other week. So it’s still something I do often but not as much as I used to.