When she’s not teaching students or seeing nutrition patients at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, remains immersed in the world of nutrition through her involvement with the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
She has been so involved, that this year she was named the organization’s “Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year,” an annual award reserved for one dietitian age 35 or younger in each state who actively participates in national, state or district dietetic associations.
“It was a pleasure to support the nomination of Amy Frasieur for this award,” says Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair of the Bastyr University Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science. “As an educator, Amy is consistently well-prepared, vibrant in her delivery of material, supportive of student development, and constantly incorporating new technologies and approaches to actively engage students.”
Frasieur’s hard work at the state level isn’t ending anytime soon. She noted at her interview that she has been named president-elect for the 2014-15 academic year, and will be the organization’s president in 2015-16.
When and why did you decide to pursue a career in nutrition?
I was originally pre-med with the goal of becoming a surgeon. Then a really good friend of mine started on renal kidney dialysis, and he also had a dietitian who worked with him a lot his diet. That was where I learned the impact you can make as a dietitian.
It was really the perfect balance between the medical side and the more holistic food side, since I’ve always loved cooking. It just sort of clicked.
What are some of your focuses and areas of expertise?
After my early experience with renal nutrition, that remained an interest that I worked in for a number of years.
I also have a real interest in “Health at Every Size,” which is looking at making long-term behavior changes that are based on health rather than appearance. Often weight gets in the way of looking at how our health changes, such as blood pressure, self-esteem and improving blood sugar.
Another interest is food service, such as food served at schools and how it relates to childhood nutrition, or food service in hospitals.
How did you end up teaching?
After I received my undergraduate degree at Oregon State University and became a dietitian, a professor asked if I would teach a class. I’d never taught before, so I said OK not knowing what I was getting myself into. I ended up teaching for a while, then went to grad school where I was a teaching assistant the whole time. It was great getting that much interaction with the students.
Then I moved to Seattle three years ago and started consulting. I had always been interested in Bastyr, and I had even considered studying there, so when I saw a posting for a core faculty position in the nutrition department, I applied.
You were recognized partly because of your participation in the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Tell me about the work you do for them and why?
I originally got involved in state associations when I was in Oregon, so when I moved to Washington I still really wanted to be involved. It’s such a great way to meet other dietitians in the state, and hopefully students see me as a role model and are encouraged to also get involved.
For the past two years, I’ve been the conference chair, which means I am in charge of developing and coordinating our annual Washington state conference. It’s hard work, but I think it’s really important to be involved at a state level whenever we can. Realistically, that’s how you make change to our profession and to policy, which is especially important because of the integrative nutrition approach Bastyr offers.
What are your goals as an educator?
As an educator, my goals are really to foster students’ passion for this field, to really just try and keep them encouraged to find something they’re really passionate about and to facilitate their learning. I try to bring a lot of real world experience into the classroom from experiences that I’ve had, and provide them with as many insights to the opportunities that they have as dietitians.
I’m also the co-supervisor of Bastyr’s weight-management program “Weigh to Go,” which emphasizes long-term health behavior changes utilizing the Health at Every Size model. I love that the students in this program are able to combine counseling and nutrition, particularly because a persons’ relationship with food is so vitally important to their health and well-being.
What are your goals as a nutritionist?
My main goal as a nutritionist and dietitian is to support patients in making health behavior changes that are long-lasting. One way is to teach people about whole foods and ways that they can incorporate them in their diet.
I’m also really passionate about focusing on hunger and how to help people get access to healthier food options.
Who should make an appointment to see a nutrition team under your supervision?
Anyone! I really think that nutrition appointments are a gem of the clinic. People have the opportunity to learn about whatever topics are coming up for them around nutrition. We can address a particular focus, but realistically our goal is to be able to accommodate anybody who comes in for nutrition advice or information.