Saint Louis University

Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni: Emily Carlson

Saint Louis University Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Emily Carlson

I will always remember my time in SLU's dietetic internship (class of 2010) as a challenging but rewarding experience. Participating in the pediatric track helped to confirm that I wanted to work at a children's hospital, and I was fortunate to have some great mentors along the way. One of the things I came to appreciate most about SLU's internship was the focus on sustainability and the importance of choosing local food. I also enjoyed the diversity of our internship class and our many adventures-from running a half marathon to gardening to attending FNCE in Denver.

Since graduation, I have been working as a pediatric clinical dietitian. I started at the University of Michigan (despite being a proud Buckeye fan) and transitioned into working as an outpatient pediatric dietitian at Helen DeVos Gastroenterology Clinic. I see a variety of patients, including those with short gut syndrome, eosinophilic esophagitis, inflammatory bowel disease, failure to thrive, and Celiac disease, among other GI related disorders. I also help manage our TPN population with our fantastic team of physicians. One of my specific interests is using exclusive enteral nutrition to induce remission in pediatric Crohn's disease-there is some really exciting data out there, and I love the concept that nutrition (in some instances) can be as effective as a pharmacological treatment.

If I could offer one piece of advice to current interns, it would be to work hard, keep an open mind, and take advantage of opportunities you have during the internship to learn from your preceptors. There will be times when you will feel stressed beyond belief, but after you complete the internship, you will be prepared to handle any work situation that may come your way. Don't be afraid to go after the things you really want to accomplish as a dietitian.

Nutrition is a field that is constantly expanding and changing. My goal is to always pursue innovation and creativity, to keep asking good questions, and to use the difficult moments in practice to make me a more effective dietitian. I'm incredibly grateful for the guidance received and the friendships formed during my internship experience at SLU, as these are things that have shaped me and my career decisions.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite Wendell Berry poems, which I think summarizes my philosophy in continuing to seek opportunities that both improve and challenge the way I practice nutrition.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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