Doretta Leung, MS, RD, LD/N, CLC
Biography: Doretta Leung has been a registered dietitian for about 15 years. She currently works at Nemours Children’s Health as a Clinical Pediatric Dietitian for the last 6 years in the GI and nutrition department. Her role is to provide medical nutrition therapy to conditions such as malnutrition, celiac disease, g tube status, overweight, EoE and etc… In 2023, Doretta and an interdisciplinary team of health providers developed an infant feeding clinic upon recognizing a disparity within preterm infants. The proposal of the feeding clinic is to provide a coordinated visit with GI provider, Registered Dietitian and Feeding Therapist within 2-3 weeks span post-discharged. Doretta also is working on a new research project that recently got IRB approved to evaluate the impact of pediatric interdisciplinary outpatient feeding clinic on preterm infant weight gain and caregiver compliance with feeding recommendations.
- What inspired you to become a dietitian?
I had an interest in nutrition since my early childhood. While I was walking down the street in Hong Kong, China, I see cases of fresh fruits and vegetables on one side of the street and live stocks on the other. I enjoy the taste of freshness since I was young. As I grew up and got my degree in nutrition, I realized that many things will impact the freshness of food. This is the reason why I became a Registered Dietitian and why I love working in the community to bring awareness of the importance of good nutrition.
- Could you tell me about your educational background and the path you took to become a dietitian?
I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees (MSDI program) from the University of Florida. Go Gators! Then, I got my full-time position starting as Public Health Nutritionist at the Duval County Health Department, 2 years later move up to Senior Public Health Nutritionist then became the WIC director at the Clay County Health Department. For the last six years, I worked as a Clinical Pediatric Dietitian at Nemours Children’s Health due to wanting to build my clinical skills as I am pursing my Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition at University of North Florida and hoping to graduate at the end of 2024.
- What does a typical day or week look like for you as a dietitian?
Each day is very fulfilling and different. A typical day would be returning patient call(s) and app messages in the morning before the first patient appointment. As patients are showing up for appointments, I will research the chart as they are being roomed and discuss patient case to other providers such as gastroenterology (GI) doctor, nurse partitioner, medical assistant and/or feeding therapist. The visit can be only with Registered Dietitian or coordinated with a GI doctor or nurse practitioner. After gathering and analyzing patient’s information, then a plan is developed. In between patients, I will return phone calls, emails and/or app messages. Due to the recent feeding clinic, I will have to prepare to schedule them in clinic and prepare charts due to it being a newly developed program.
- What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being a dietitian?
I feel that I signed up to become a Registered Dietitian is to provide educations to improve the health of others. I also wanted individuals to enjoy food in moderation as we must eat more than 3 times a day and making it an enjoyable moment is an important aspect in live. With my current role, it is challenging as some young individuals will need the extra calorie boosting to gain weight. However, the extra calories may make the food not enjoyable sometimes. It is important to stand by the caregivers along with patients’ side to keep everyone encouraged. It is a rewarding experience once the goal is met. Since the start of the infant feeding clinic, it is rewarding when providers are in the agreement of taking out the g-tube. There are three patients so far that got the g-tube taken out since the start of the feeding clinic in March 2023.
- What advice would you give to someone considering a career in dietetics?
I would recommend to research on the areas that a Registered Dietitian can be in along with salary range. I believe shadowing the profession is very helpful in deciding to pursue dietetics as a career.
- What do you see as the future of the dietetics profession?
I can see that the future of the dietetics profession is going to be more recognized as master’s degree is becoming a requirement for the profession. I also can see Registered Dietitians using advanced technology to improve the care of the patients.
- What characteristics/personality traits do you think are essential for your specific role?
If I have to pick a few characteristics/personality traits for my current specific role, they would be flexibility, patience, never give up on goals, and stay positive. I believe that you have to be flexible with changes, patience with others, never give up on goals even with a lot of barriers and stay positive and take one step at a time.