From left to right: Senior Clinical Dietitians Sarah Masukewicz, Lauren McAvoy, Kathryn E. Kear, Noora Barzegar, and Aliza Miller Etka

When patients cannot eat on their own, their nutritional needs must be met another way. This is especially important for critically ill patients, who may need nourishment through an IV line. To better support the complex needs of these patients, five senior clinical dietitians in the Department of Nutrition recently passed the Certification Examination for Nutrition Support Clinicians (CNSC).

Noora Barzegar, RDN, LDN, CNSC; Aliza Miller Etka, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC; Kathryn E. Kear, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC; Sarah Masukewicz, RD, LDN, CNSC; and Lauren McAvoy, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, said their decision to pursue this certification earlier this year was a no-brainer.

“Working at a teaching hospital fosters so much growth individually and as a group. We pursued this opportunity to expand our personal knowledge in the realm of nutrition support and to better support our patients and teams,” they said. “We are always seeking new opportunities, and this was the perfect next step.”

The group advises anyone else considering CNSC certification to pursue it. “The content taught for this certification directly relates to the care we provide in our day-to-day practice. This certification allows us to provide a higher level of care to our patients,” they said.

CNSC certification extends the scope of practice for dietitians, particularly around patients requiring total parenteral nutrition (TPN), which is when nutrients are provided through an IV line into the blood.

“Patients on TPN are some of the most critically ill in the hospital, often classified with severe protein-calorie malnutrition,” explained Director of the Department of Nutrition Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN. “At the Brigham, all inpatient dietitians care for these patients, but we only extend the responsibility of entering TPN orders to CNSC-certified dietitians. These dietitians are truly the most expert nutrition practitioners in their field. They help us provide better care to our critically ill patients.”

All five recently certified dietitians agree that obtaining this certification has enriched their practice. “Using the wealth of information we learned about nutrition support, we are more confident in our decision-making process and discourse with teams,” said Barzegar, Etka, Kear, Masukewicz and McAvoy. “This certification also places us in a senior dietitian role, allowing for more mentoring and responsibility within the department. The certification allows for additional autonomy in our practice, as it confirms our role as experts in nutrition support, especially with regard to ordering privileges.”