Our latest Distinguished Dietitian honoree is Patty Keane, MS, RD.
Learn more about Patty’s work below.
Registered Dietitian Since: 2010
Area(s) of Practice: Public Health, Community-based research, Policy
Website/Social Media Links:
Please note that my social media accounts are mine and do not reflect the opinions or views of the University of New Mexico or the UNM Prevention Research Center.
Brief Professional Bio:
At the University of New Mexico (UNM) Prevention Research Center (PRC), I conduct research and programs related to food and nutrition, primarily in early childcare settings in rural communities, but also have an evaluation underway of the barriers and facilitators toward the acceptance of federal nutrition assistance benefits (SNAP, WIC) at New Mexico farmers’ markets.
I act as the policy advisor on food and nutrition issues for the PRC. My main research interests include identifying and developing policy and environmental strategies for improvements in child health and nutrition status in New Mexico, particularly for low-income families with limited food access. I am also interested in furthering the understanding of how food and nutrition policies and environments influence dietary attitudes and behaviors, and subsequent chronic disease risk.
I am a preceptor for dietetic interns for their research rotation, frequent guest speaker, and previously taught undergraduate Community Nutrition at UNM. I currently serve as a volunteer policy leader for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where I am chairing the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Workgroup, and previously for the New Mexico Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
I also served on the board for the Albuquerque Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Other professional memberships include the American Society for Nutrition, and the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Prior to joining the PRC, I was a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) nutrition fellow in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)/ Leadership Excellence and Education in Pediatrics (LEEP) program from 2007-2009, at the UNM Centers for Development and Disability.
My graduate research project was a nutritional analysis of an emergency food backpack program for schoolchildren experiencing hunger in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
What does ‘professional integrity’ mean to you?
For me, professional integrity means remaining objective always, and taking the path that I know is the right one, even when it may not be the easiest one. I was faced somewhat early in my career with a big ethical dilemma in human subjects research conducted by other RDs.
I knew that I had two choices, and that my choice would define what kind of professional I was going to be from there on out. One choice would have been easier, but I would have hated myself for it, not to mention that it went against the Academy’s Code of Ethics. The other was the harder choice, but I knew it was the right thing to do, both as an RD and as a researcher.
While the RD community is small and we might hesitate to ruffle any feathers to be well liked, I think it’s always better to be well respected. I find it helpful to remember that my actions can reflect our entire profession and that honoring my commitment to the public is paramount.
What words of encouragement do you have for RDs-to-be looking to make a significant contribution to our profession?
I’ve had this John Ruskin quote since I was in school, and is on my office door: “The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” What served me well as an RD-to-be was to seek out advisors and mentors who supported me, and who also challenged me to always push a little further.
I learned the most from my toughest teachers. Also, as students and new professionals, take advantage of every single opportunity that comes your way, and if such opportunities aren’t coming your way, find them. Seek out what interests you, even if it seems a little bit outside of the norm.
The challenge however, which admittedly I don’t always manage well, is when you finally have an abundance of opportunities and you need to start saying no. That can be tough. I also have found it to be extremely important to fill the space where RDs (or RDs-to-be) should be at the table (e.g. food policy councils, community food systems projects), but aren’t.
We have so much to offer in our expertise and sound, evidence-based practice, but we need to make sure we are always educating others about what it is we do and how we add value.
What was the most blatant “conflict of interest” situation you encountered involving AND?
I wouldn’t single out one specific situation, but I welcome conversations about concerns from members related to our professional organization.
As with many in leadership roles (e.g. I don’t always agree with the president of my university or my elected officials), I appreciate when we are able to have open, informed dialogue about our concerns and engage members on a number of levels.
Again, we extend our congratulations to Patty and thank her for her important work and for representing the RD credential in such a positive light.