Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
Dietitians recognized at state level
The Louisiana Dietetics Association, a state-level affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is recognizing two dietitians of Overton Brooks VA Medical Center— Elizabeth Ollendike and Emily Walker.
In a ceremony scheduled for April, the LDA will honor Ollendike as the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year while Walker will be recognized as the LDA’s new state secretary.
Inspired by the dietitian who treated her father, Ollendike decided to treat others, eventually obtaining a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics.
“A dietitian changed my father’s life, our lives. I asked her, ‘How do I do what you did?’ She said, ‘Go to (Louisiana) Tech.’ I never considered changing my major.”
The Shreveport Dietetics Association, or SDA, is one of ten districts under the LDA. They nominated Ollendike who then had to compete with nine other nominees across the state for the award.
Meant to “recognize the competence and activities of younger dietitians in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics…,” the award is given to those dietitians who “demonstrate leadership in legislation, research, education and management,” among other criteria. Recipients must also be 35 years old or younger, according to LDA literature.
“I was shocked,” Ollendike said. “I never even considered getting the award.”
Ollendike commits much of her personal time to her local and state-level associations— giving advice, teaching classes and fundraising for various levels of the Academy family.
“As a dietitian, you don’t have to be involved in your local, state or national institution,” Ollendike said, “but participation is highly encouraged.”
Ollendike is the dietitian for Home Based Primary Care at Overton Brooks VA and also assists with the MOVE! Weight Loss Program for Veterans, a VHA sponsored outpatient program that targets obesity among Veterans. Emily Walker, dietitian and MOVE! coordinator, is also being recognized by the LDA.
“I was recently appointed as the Louisiana Dietetic Association Secretary,” Walker said.
“Emily does the MOVE! Program,” Ollendike said. “She meets people on the weekends and gets them enrolled the following Monday. She’s an inspiration and someone I look up to. She’s a friend and mentor.”
Since Walker’s tenure as coordinator, the MOVE! Program has had to create another group, bringing the total number of groups to three. MOVEmployee, the VA employee counterpart to MOVE!, has also created an additional group.
Walker, a former Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award recipient, will be responsible for keeping staff minutes of all proceedings of Executive Committee and Board of Directors, among other duties. She will serve as LDA secretary for a two-year term.
Both Ollendike and Walker engage in SDA activities when not at work, activities that have garnered recognition from the rest of the nutrition and dietetic community. They have also served as past presidents for their local association.
“I’ve been president of the SDA twice,” Walker said. “Elizabeth is president this year. I’ve been a member since I was an undergraduate. I’ve also been a membership chair for the state-level association. ”
Laura Ivy, service chief for the Food and Nutrition Service at Overton Brooks VA, says Ollendike and Walker perform beyond the scope of their duties at the hospital.
“I’m hearing a lot of this for the first time,” Ivy said, laughing. “They don’t like to brag about themselves, but it’s no surprise to me, I know they’re hard workers and it all lines up with who they are. They’re very important people to the organization.”
“We also work with other groups in the community,” Walker said. “For instance, we’ve put on food demonstrations as a part of the ‘We Grow Together,’ a program, which is sponsored by Greens on the Red.”
The LDA will present Ollendike with a plaque at the LDA Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition, an event scheduled to take place in April. The president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will also send her a congratulatory letter. At the same event, Walker will be recognized as the next term’s LDA Secretary.
Ollendike and Walker both have master’s degrees within the dietetics field with Walker maintaining certification in gerontology, specializing in diet needs for seniors. It’s a certification acquired by logging numerous hours of work involving seniors and passing an exam. Ivy says both dietitians have greatly influenced both the nutrition and dietetic community by taking their work beyond Overton Brooks VA.
“They’re just doing what they feel they need to do for their organization.”