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Passion for Research

Registered dietitian nutritionist Jennifer Kerner, RDN, LD, discusses how her work as a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center has provided the opportunity to be involved in research projects.

When Jennifer Kerner, RDN, LD, was in college pursuing a chemistry degree, her advisor suggested the dietetics program to combine her passions for science and food. Now, as a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, she's delighted to be in a career that offers challenges, experiences and knowledge.

Kerner's current position has given her the opportunity to be involved in multiple research projects. "I enjoy research because it adds value to my work," she says. "When I worked on the Adult Malnutrition Clinical Characteristics Validation Pilot Study, I was able to advance my clinical skills. The current research I'm working with is increasing my knowledge of the Institutional Review Board process, improving my writing skills, engaging me as a preceptor of a dietetic intern and enhancing my involvement with the interdisciplinary team."

Tell us about your research work. What need does this work help serve?
It seems that every time I read an article, the conclusion includes a recommendation for more research to be conducted. Since the DPBRN study, I have been able to participate in other research at my workplace. I currently am on a team that is investigating the use of probiotics to help with quality of life in the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy.

How have you personally benefited from participating in research?
Participation in research has added interest and value to my job because it is outside of my normal routine. When I participated in the clinical characteristics validation pilot study, I received training that sharpened my technique in conducting the Nutrition Focused Physical Exam. I now apply the skills I learned from that training to my daily practice.

Would you recommend other RDNs get involved in research?
I feel like there are endless opportunities to learn more about food and nutrition, and so dietitians in all areas of practice should seek opportunities to contribute to the body of knowledge that drives our profession. I have been so fortunate to be involved in projects that foster my own development and contribute to the profession.

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