Meet Jillian Smith, RD, a clinical nutrition specialist for the Liver, Intestine and Multivisceral Transplant Programs.
Why did you choose to become a dietitian?
I became a dietitian because I have always been interested in medicine, as well as food, health and well-being. During high school, I shadowed a dietitian at Maine Medical Center, near my home in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. And between semesters in college, I started a catering business out of my mom’s kitchen — it was quite successful. Being able to connect with people and patients through food and nutrition has helped me thrive in this profession.
How did you get involved with transplant nutrition?
I worked with transplant patients during my internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which sparked my interest in this patient population. When I found out this job was open, I wanted to learn more. After speaking with the dietitian who was in the position at the time, my interest turned into a desire to work with pediatric transplant patients. I then met the liver, intestine and multivisceral transplant teams, and I was sold. I was very lucky this position also allowed me to pursue my other interest — critical care.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best part of my job is seeing the growth and the nutrition rehabilitation and optimization after a patient receives a transplant. To be a part of that remarkable transformation is so rewarding. It’s such a significant progression. I see their concern and frustration before transplant — particularly with biliary atresia patients, who are often nutritionally deprived and malnourished — and then, after transplant, nutrition is seen in such a different light.
What are you most proud of as it relates to your work?
I didn’t have much experience before I became a dietitian at Boston Children’s Hospital. It was my first job after my internship. So, what I am most proud of is that I have learned a lot of over the past year and a half. It was difficult in the beginning, but I have been able to establish myself in this role and contribute to the transplant team, as well as to the patients. I have formed great connections with the families I’ve evaluated and followed through transplant.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I enjoy running. I run a lot, and I enjoy doing all different types of road races. I also like to cook. I recently catered a 60th birthday party, but I usually just cook for friends and family.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I still like to teach and enjoy working with interns and students as part of my job.
If you weren’t a dietitian, what would you be?
If I had gone to medical school, I would have gone into surgery. Or, I might have gone to culinary school and started a “real” catering company. My sister is in event planning, so we’ve always talked about starting an event and catering business. Who knows? Maybe we will someday.