Member Highlights

Members Highlights is proud to present our next Highlighted Member

Corey Hawes MS, RDN, CNSD, LDN

I received my Bachelors of Science in Dietetics from the University of Kentucky in the Coordinated Program in 2013 and went on to get my Masters of Science in Nutritional Sciences with a focus in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Currently I am working on two doctorates – a Doctorate of Clinical Nutrition (DCN) from Rutgers University with an expected graduation date of October 2022 and a PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky with an expected graduation date of December 2022.

How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing since 2013 with a home DME company for about a year and then transitioned into the clinical role in 2014. I have worked in mostly adult Nutrition Support, Oncology, and BMT until 2017 when I transitioned into Pediatric Oncology and Congenital Heart Disease.

Have you held any leadership positions within KAND or a local affiliate organization? If so, what positions and years of service?

I have been the Tellers Chair (2017-2019) and on the Nominating Chair Committee (2019 to present). I am also part of many committee groups within AND and A.S.P.E.N.

Why did you choose to study dietetics or nutrition? What are your specific areas of interest? 

I always loved science and the way the body functions and moves. I came to UK with a goal of medical school but after shadowing a few physicians, I quickly realized their lifestyles didn’t match my goals. I started to look around at every major that UK offered. When I got to UK, I really didn’t know that Dietetics was a major, much less a job. I was always very active and loved to cook, research foods, etc. I had a really good friend at the time say I should look into Nutrition and when I did, I found the track of Dietetics and fell in love with the thought of the coursework once I looked into transferring.

My specific areas do lie within Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Nutrition Support. However, I love pharmacology, nutrigenomics, and body composition. I’m extremely interested in looking into body composition and prediction equations as well as how body composition affects drug metabolism, drug and nutrient interactions, and vice versa (how drugs, specifically cancer related drugs, alter body composition).

What does a typical day in the life look like for you in your current job?

The typical day is a bit abnormal from that of many dietetic positions as I cover two very different outpatient clinics (Ped Hem/Onc and Ped Cardiology) while also covering inpatient Ped Hem/Onc and rounding/working with the pediatric cardiology ICU team and dietitian. I often round with the inpatients early in the morning and then return to clinic to see patients (running back and forth between the clinics at times☺). Later in the afternoon, I’ll often go back to check on the inpatient kiddos to see if the changes that were made were effective.

The children in the Peds Hem/Onc clinic are often coming in for either count checks and/or outpatient chemotherapy. I’ll look and see where they are at in their protocol/regimen and see what chemotherapy they’re expecting to get along with the side effects they should expect from those drugs. Then I education the parents/patients on how to modify their diets to optimize their nutrition during that time. Specifically in Hem/Onc, I will also help the physicians manage the use of our appetite stimulants to ensure optimal symptom control while maintaining adequate weight gain. Most of our kiddos will come to clinic at a minimum of once a week, so you get to know them very well and can almost anticipate their weight trajectory and intakes based on rapport and treatment regimen. While in cardiology my biggest goal is growth, in Hem/Onc my biggest goal is optimization of nutrition with symptom management.

In cardiology many of these kiddos will come in once a week at the most, some will come in more just to see me and get a weight check, but often just the ones that are really struggling. My biggest goal in cardiology is to get the baby growing and optimize them for surgical repair while minimizing intolerance to nutrition interventions. There is a lot more enteral nutrition support in cardiology and most of the families with tube feedings or growth concerns (especially the critical ones) have my cell to call or text any time as telemedicine and adjustments to tube feedings happen on an almost daily basis. This prevents them from having to come in every day to troubleshoot issues or to adjust feeds based on growth/symptoms. In cardiology, I’ll often see the patient and family to come up with a plan to ensure that they are not only having an appropriate growth velocity currently but to continue appropriate velocity until their next follow-up, which can be up to 3-6 months at a time. If they are not a patient that is coming back weekly, I’ll send them home with an advancement plan to ensure appropriate growth. They are often required to converse with me throughout those 3-6 months with primary care weight checks to ensure appropriate adjustments along the way as well.

What do you enjoy most about what you do as a nutrition professional?

In really enjoy the way I connect with my patients over food and helping them navigate the truths through a field where there are thousands of opinions and hundreds of different avenues to find information on anything regarding nutrition. The moment where a patient can connect with food on the same level that I connect with it, is what this field is all about.

I also love when a child gets excited to see me to tell me all about what they’ve done and ate all week. When you walk in a room and don’t hear “Oh, here comes the Dietitian” in a dreadful voice, you know you’re doing it right.

What do you hope to see in the profession in the next 5 years? (This could be something you would like to see change, additional research to be conducted, etc.)

I would love to see more evidence-based practice. I think over the last few years there has been great growth in that area – to push evidence-based practice and to practicing ethically based on evidence rather than historical practices or personal beliefs. I feel as a field we need to do more research and gather more data to tell us how we should manage, more definitively and optimally, a condition. We as nutrition professionals often get trapped into treating one nutritional problem when we need to look at the patient as a whole to become a true and better nutrition clinician. I would also love to see even more professional recognition. The Academy has done wonders improving our recognition as the field experts but with the expansion of social medial and access to information, further work will always be necessary.

What is your best piece of advice for students or new RDs? 

Try anything and everything while you’re a student. There are so many different avenues for a Dietitian – you may be surprised at the things you find.

What is your favorite food?

Any type of ethnic food to be honest, however, my absolute favorite is paella! So good (even better if you pair it with a mojito).

What is at the top of your bucket list? 

That is a hard question because there is so much that I have yet to experience that I really want to. Currently, I think my biggest goal is to make it to Ironman World Championships. I love competing in triathlons! It really helps keep my life sane. I’m currently ranked in the top 10% of my age-group in the world for half Ironman triathlons, so I’m really hoping to continue improving my abilities and get to the Championships before I’m too old.