Kathryn Kear

Kathryn Kear

Alumni Office, Nutritional Sciences

Kear's time in FACS helped prepare her well for a career as a clinical nutrition specialist


BSFCS, Dietetics 2018; M.S., Nutritional Sciences 2019

Current occupation/Location

Clinical Nutrition Specialist in the Cystic Fibrosis clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Mass.

What has been your proudest accomplishment since graduating?

During my dietetic internship, we were asked to conduct an independent study and literature review on a clinical topic. Inspired by my intensive care unit rotations, I wrote a review on micronutrient deficiencies in continuous renal replacement therapy. After completing the review, my preceptor invited me to publish my review in Support Line, the official publication of Dietitians in Nutrition Support, a Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To my knowledge, I was the first intern asked to publish this assignment.

What was your favorite class in FACS?

Aside from Medical Nutrition Therapy I and II, which proved to be fundamental in my internship, my favorite class in FACS was Optimal Nutrition for the Life Span with Dr. Rick Lewis. I enjoyed learning the ever-evolving and evidence-based approach to eating throughout one’s life. Plus, Dr. Lewis would often include personal anecdotes as a father and grandfather that were both endearing and helpful in understanding the material.

Did you have a favorite – or most memorable – faculty member?

I felt supported and encouraged by all FACS staff though particularly so by the staff and faculty in Nutritional Sciences. As the mentor to the Student Dietetics Association and a professor I had multiple times, Dr. Emma Laing was one of my favorites. Her unwavering support of her students and her undeniable love for nutrition are unmatched. We had the pleasure of spending many classroom and after-school hours together, and she always made my peers and me feel like family.

I also owe great appreciation to Dr. Caree Cotwright for seeing in me what I was initially unable to see in myself. I would have left the University with one less degree had Dr. Cotwright not approached me about joining her Childhood Obesity Prevention graduate lab and obtaining my master's degree. She supported me through my coursework and thesis and was integral to my success.

How do you think FACS prepared you for your career success?

In many ways, I have felt that my FACS education has put me two steps ahead in my early career. To start, I was able to go through the dietetic internship matching process with confidence and clarity. Dr. Laing was fiercely dedicated to teaching us about the application process early, created helpful guides and resources, and even read our personal statements if asked. Beyond the application process alone, I felt ready for my clinical rotations in my internship. Now as a young dietitian, the lessons I learned in FACS about networking, interviewing, and professionalism have taken me far.

What inspires or motivates you?

My current role involves two rapidly changing fields: nutrition and cystic fibrosis. Both healthcare specialties have changed immensely, even over the past five years of my early career. I’m inspired by the prospect that further research, quality improvement efforts and fundraising for both nutrition and cystic fibrosis will continue to improve the evidence-based care we provide our patients. I envision a life for adults living with cystic fibrosis that is full of supportive, multidisciplinary care – dietitians included.  

What advice would you give a current FACS student looking to pursue a career in your field?

Like many young graduates, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted after my internship. In the midst of COVID, I was grateful to accept a job at the hospital where I completed my internship. I thought my first job was my dream job. A few years later, particularly in a post-COVID world, I realized that the inpatient workflow and demands didn’t align with my professional and personal goals. I was scared to leave my first role, especially since I felt so fortunate to have a job so immediately. After many conversations and great support from mentors, I feel supported and fulfilled in my current outpatient role. Although it can be challenging, I would recommend all future dietitians look at the field with open eyes. Your first job doesn’t have to be your dream job and there are so many unconventional opportunities out there!

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